SOCCSKSARGEN stands for 4 provinces and 1 city in South Central Mindanao: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City. This region of Mindanao is home to vibrant coral reefs, white sand beaches, cascading falls, and the one and only boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao. Amidst the conflicts in several areas of Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN is a diamond in the rough, waiting to be explored.
Witness the life and culture of the T’boli people, an ethnic group in the province of South Cotabato. Take a trip to see the dreamweavers in Lake Sebu, who produce loom-woven T’nalak cloths. The designs on the tapestries are dreamt by the weavers, and are made with symbolic red and black threads of abaca.
The cool climate of South Cotabato is best enjoyed while ziplining over the Seven Waterfalls, two of which can be accessed by foot. Also in South Cotabato is the active yet climbable volcano, Mt. Matutum, which has an elevation of 2293 kilometers (1425 miles) above sea level.
Visit the largest mosque in the Philippines, the Grand Mosque, in Cotabato City. The mosque stands at 15 storeys high and was built with the help of the Sultan of Brunei, Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Right in the middle of this busy and urbanized city is the Kutawato Cave Complex, which forms a mysterious underground maze perfect for adventurous spelunkers.
Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the country, towers over North Cotabato. The trek to the peak starts in Kidapawan City, goes through the mossy and pine forests of Mt. Apo, and ends in the municipality of Magpet. It would take about 3 days to complete the hike, making this a major climb reserved for seasoned mountaineers.
The mountain is home to the endangered Philippine eagle, known to locals as “Haribon,” and Waling-Waling orchids.
The Rio Grande de Mindanao, which at 373 kilometers (232 miles) is the longest in the region, passes through the cities and barangays of North Cotabato.
Go white water tubing in the Pangi river in Maitum, Sarangani. Instead of riding a rubber raft, you can hop on an inner tube that fits 4 to 6 people. Laze on the white sands and witness the jaw-dropping sunsets of Gumasa Beach, which was nicknamed “Boracay of Mindanao.” The waters of Sarangani Bay are great dive spots where you can spot cabbage coral, white tip sharks, sea turtles, and tropical fish.
The mansion of the world renowned boxer, Manny Pacquiao, can be found in General Santos City. Pacquiao’s mark can also be found in the Roadhaus Hotel, which he owns with his wife, and the Pacman Wild Card gym.
When visiting SOCCSKSARGEN, be sure to try the delicacies of the area. Koronadal in Sultan Kudarat is famous for their buko (coconut) halo-halo, a yummy twist on the classic Filipino snack. Also in Sultan Kudarat is the marang fruit, a durian-look-alike without the smell and a sweeter flavor. Grab a bite of fresh yellow fin tuna in the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, General Santos City, or bring home some tinagtag, a crunchy snack made of ground rice and sugar.