Traveling for work really has its perks. Here I am again in the south of the Philippines. Where? The place where everyone thinks is a hostile area. Well, not really. So, before heading back to Manila which is 4 hours before our flight, we decided the night before to take a quick look of what is Cotabato City.
How to get to Cotabato City?
The easiest way to get here is to book a flight from Manila to Cotabato Airport or Awang Airport.†It is an airport serving the general area of Cotabato City, located in the province of Maguindanao. Yes, Maguindanao. Do you feel a bit worried that it was located near†the Baluarte of the Ampatuan or maybe you’re just thinking that you’re just a kilometer away from Mamasapano?
No worries! The place is highly guarded by the†Armed Forces. I hope and I guess.
Where to go?
Bangsamoro People Complex
At that time, we were just buying some Pashmina on the Barter trade and our first stop is the Bangsamoro People Complex or†Office of the Bangsamoro. Located behind this office is a Cultural Park or a Museum about the Muslim culture and there is no entrance fee. They are willing to tell you their story from the first Sultan†until the present one.
One of the stories they told us is that of Sabah. If I recall correctly, our guide said that Sabah is really a part of Sulu, Philippines and not Malaysia. Way back before the Spaniards came, one of the Sultans†of Sulu mortgaged it to Malaysia. Then the new generation of Sultans came of Sultan and he tried to claim the Sabah with also the help of our Government. But I can’t remember which administration, Marcos or Quezon.
The good thing is, we are not still giving up on claiming Sabah.
Barter Trade Center
Just in front of the Bangsamoro People Complex, is a Market place or much famously called as the Barter Trade where you can buy “Pashmina” or Scarf for pasalubong. The price starts at Php. 80.00 depending on the design.
The People Palace (The New City Hall)
A majestic structure located at Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10, combining ethno-modern architecture with Muslim-inspired roof symbolizing its royalty and Roman art symbolizing the existence of Christianity in the City. The entire bureaucracy of the Executive Department are now housed under one roof.
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (The Grand Mosque)
This one caught my attention because I never got a chance to visit the mosque in Marawi City last time when I was in Lanao del Norte, which is just 2 hrs away.†It is also known as the Grand Mosque of Cotabato and is the largest in the Philippines. Its reported cost is US$ 48 million. How many burgers is that? This is the first time I’ve got a chance to do some quick tour at a mosque and it is worth it.
Km. 12 is actually a military post/patrol base where you can see the whole Cotabato City from above.
In conclusion, Cotabato is such a nice place full of history and culture that should be celebrated and not be labeled as being a hostile area.