Cotabato City is where land meets sea, traditions meet modernity, and Christian influences meet those of Islam’s. It’s truly a melting pot of different things that come together in harmony, making the city truly unique and exciting for those who wish to visit.
The chartered city is found on the northwestern side of Maguindanao at the mouth of Rio Grande de Mindanao, a popular site for boat racing and other water sports. It is home to numerous architectural gems as well as natural tourist sites for those in search of adventures.
Most exquisite of them all is the golden Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, which stands proudly at the heart of Cotabato City. Known simply as the Grand Mosque of Cotabato, it was built with the help of the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and is the largest mosque in the country. The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival held every December 15-19 in honor of the Arab missionary who introduced the Islam faith to Mindanao is an important occasion celebrated by the city.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception of Tamontaka is the center of the Christian faith in Cotabato. The fiesta of its patroness held every December 8 and the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Festival held every third Sunday of September are widely celebrated with fluvial processions, musical numbers, and cultural presentations.
The four caves of the Kutawato Cave Complex, after which the city was named, is famous among spelunkers with its numerous rock formations, saltwater ponds, and underground river. Its Bagua Cave is the most ideal entrance to the complex where visitors are welcomed by a saltwater pond and a gallery where exhibits and performances are commonly held.
This cave complex is found at the foot of the Pedro Colina Hill, another famous landmark of Cotabato City. Its stone fort and breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the Rio Grande de Mindanao are a must-see. A monument dedicated to Sultan Kudarat, a widely regarded hero of Mindanao, is found at the top of the hill.
Other famous tourist destinations in Cotabato City are the Timako Hill, a famous site for camping, snorkeling and diving, and the Takumi Butai Memorial Shrine, which was constructed in honor of a Japanese colonel who wanted a part of his ashes to remain in Cotabato upon his death as he considered the city as his second home.
No trip to Cotabato City will be complete without a visit to its many textile markets. Cotabato City is known for its inaul, a handwoven textile commonly used as sarongs or malongs. Choose from a variety of designs such as the binaludto (rainbow) or the makabimhan (stripes). Keep in mind that the colors have meanings when you buy an inaul. Green commonly denotes peace while black denotes dignity.
Have a taste of the many local dishes cooked using pigek, a type of seasonal fish, and the beef sinina, Cotabato’s take on the classic beef stew.