South Cotabato

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Province of South Cotabato
Ph seal south cotabato.png
Ph locator map south cotabato.png
(Region XII)
Governor Daisy P. Fuentes
Barangays 198
Physical characteristics
Area 3,705.89 km²
(26th largest)
Total (2000) 690,728
(21st largest)
Density 186/km²
(30th highest)

South Cotabato (Filipino: Timog Kotabato) is a province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region of Mindanao. Its capital is Koronadal City. It is bordered by Sultan Kudarat to the north and west, Sarangani to the south and east, General Santos City to the southeast, and Davao del Sur to the east.

General Santos City used to be part of the province until it was declared a highly urbanized city on September 5, 1988. The province of Sarangani also used to be part of South Cotabato until it was made an independent province in 1992.



The province of South Cotabato has a total land area of about 3,706 square kilometers. Lake Sebu is the biggest municipality in terms of land area, with approximately 891.38 square kilometers. T'Boli is next with an area of 809.00 square kilometers, followed by Polomolok with 339.97 square kilometers. The smallest municipalities are Tantangan and Sto. Niño, with an area of 126.00 and 109.04 square kilometers, respectively.<ref name="test1">Provincial Government of South Cotabato website. (accessed November 19, 2007).</ref>

The province is mainly divided into two areas, the Alah Valley (also spelled "Allah") and the Koronadal Valley, which together form the Cotabato basin. The two valleys are separated by the Roxas Mountain Range. The Daguma Mountain Range, on the other hand, separates the Allah Valley from Sarangani Province. It contains the upland lakes of Sebu, Lahit and Siloton, and Mt. Parker, the second highest peak in the province at 1,756 meters, with its crater lake, Holon (formerly Lake Maughan). The highest peak in the province is Mt. Matutum in the Quezon Mountain Range, at 2,286 meters.<ref name="test1">Provincial Government of South Cotabato website. (accessed November 19, 2007).</ref><ref name="test2">Notre Dame of Dadiangas College website. (accessed November 19, 2007).</ref>

The largest river in the province is the Allah River, which originates in Mt. Parker and flows northwest through the Allah Valley, joined by the Banga and Lonon rivers, to Liguasan Marsh. It has a total watershed area of 102, 350 hectares and a discharge capacity of 1.5 million liters per minute. The Marbel River, on the other hand, flows north through the Koronadal Valley to Buluan Lake. It has a watershed area of 58,668.5 hectares.<ref name="test1">Provincial Government of South Cotabato website. (accessed November 19, 2007).</ref>


South Cotabato is a relatively young province. At the turn of the 20th century, it was a sparsely inhabited area, its few inhabitants those members of various Filipino Muslim and Lumad tribes such as the Maguindanao, T'boli and B'laan. Since the area that is the present-day province of South Cotabato was mountain-locked and accessible only by sea, it had remained largely unaffected by the advent of Islam in Mindanao and even the long colonization of the rest of the Philippines by the Spaniards.

Then, as a result of the agrarian unrest in other parts of the archipelago, immigrants from Luzon and the Visayas began to arrive in the area during the American occupation of the Philippines.

The first batch of settlers set foot in the area in October, 1914. They were from Cebu, led by Tranquilino Ruiz Sr. They settled along Sarangani Bay, in Colony No. 9 of the government colonization project, now the municipality of Glan, Sarangani. In March 9, 1920, the first batch of Ilocano settlers landed on the other side of the bay, at Kalaong, Kiamba, Sarangani, brought there by the steamer "Tablas". Their leader was Crisanto Hidalgo of San Fernando, La Union. On February 27, 1939, another batch of settlers from the Tagalog region of Central Luzon, led by General Paulino Santos of Camiling, Tarlac, set foot in what would become General Santos City, named after their leader.

These pioneers worked their way inland with the aid of the now defunct Land Settlement and Development Corporation (LASEDECO) formerly the National Land Settlement Administration, created by Commonwealth Act No. 441 in June 3, 1939. They blazed a trail as far as Koronadal Valley in the north and Alah Valley in the northwest, clearing the forest, breaking ground and planting --in the face of tremendous odds like malaria, poor communication and lack of transportation. Despite these hardships, the pioneers found the climate and soil to be so ideal for agriculture that some of them were said to have remarked "You throw a seed into the field and nature will take care of the rest." When news got back to Luzon and the Visayas about the richness of the new land, settlers began pouring in. They established communities like the ones they had left behind, so that many places in the province are called after places in the settlers' homes of origin. The flow of immigrants stopped when World War II broke out, but resumed after the war ended and the Philippines had been granted its independence from America. New municipalities were established in the area, then the southern part of the province of Cotabato.

In the early 1950's a rat infestation broke out which almost totally destroyed the settlers' crops. With the assistance of government agencies, the settlers recovered. During this same period, the people in southern Cotabato began to feel that they had no say in local government, as they were under the control of those in the northern part of the province. They petitioned the national government to allow them to separate and become an independent province. On July 18, 1966, Republic Act No. 4849, separating South Cotabato from its mother province of Cotabato, was passed and approved. However, it was not until the regular election in November 1967 that South Cotabato elected its first set of officials, including its first Governor, Sergio B. Morales. It only began to function as a regular province at the beginning of 1968.

South Cotabato as first established had 11 municipalities including its capital, Koronadal. In 1988, General Santos City became a highly urbanized city. In 1992, South Cotabato had 17 municipalities; however, its seven coastal municipalities (Alabel, Glan, Malapatan, Malungon, Kiamba, Maasim and Maitum) separated to form the province of Sarangani.

The province first sparked nationwide interest when its role as host of the 1993 National Secondary Schools Press Conference was aborted by then Education Secretary Armand Fabella one week before the activity was to commence. However, the province bounced back the following year when it successfully hosted the National Secondary Schools Press Conference in December 1994. Since then, it has been a favored Mindanao venue for conventions and national events, such as the Palarong Pambansa in 1996. On October 8, 2000, the capital town of Koronadal became a component city by virtue of Republic Act. No. 8803. On September 19, 2001, by virtue of Executive Order No. 36 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Koronadal became the regional center of Region XII.

Political Subdivisions

South Cotabato is subdivided into 10 municipalities and 1 city.



General Santos City is a highly urbanized city whose voters do not take part in the provincial elections of South Cotabato and which is not fiscally dependent on the province. However, it is part of the first legislative district of South Cotabato in terms of congressional representation.

People and Culture


The people of South Cotabato are multilingual, able to communicate in Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Filipino, and English. Kiniray-a and Ilocano are also spoken in the province. In addition, the local Muslim and Lumad groups have their own languages. The lingua franca of the province is Hiligaynon (commonly referred to as "Ilonggo"), but code-switching between the four major languages in one conversation is not uncommon.

The Filipino (commonly referred to in the province as "Tagalog") and English languages are the languages used for official transactions in the province.


The people of South Cotabato have learned to appreciate and respect the culture of their neighbors and to coexist peacefully with one another. As a result, they have developed an eclectic culture which retains many of the practices and traditions of their particular tribal heritages, infused with a flavor that is distinctly Mindanaoan and the product of cultural interaction between the immigrants and the indigenous peoples of the area.

The largest ethnic group (50% of the population, according to the 2000 census)<ref name="test3">South Cotabato: One Out of Two Persons a Hiligaynon/Ilonggo. Results of the 2000 Census (accessed February 16, 2008).</ref> in the province is composed of Ilonggos from Panay and Negros in the Visayas who settled mostly in the municipalities of Norala, Banga, Surallah, Sto. Niño and the province's capital, Koronadal. They brought with them the Hiligaynon and Kiniray-a languages and the Ilonggo culture. On the other hand, people from the Ilocano speaking regions of Luzon settled in Tampakan, Tantangan and Tupi, bringing the Ilocano language and culture to the province. The Visayan language Cebuano is also the major language of the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok, which are near to Cebuano-speaking General Santos City.

The major Muslim Filipino ethnic group in the province is the Maguindanao. Although many of its members still wear their traditional costumes and practice their native customs, others have come to adapt the more liberal practices of their Christian neighbors such as wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts, eschewing the use of the headscarf, and attending dances/mixed gatherings. In turn, the members of the other ethnic groups have come to appreciate the Maguindanao culture and cuisine, such as the tinagtag. The native malong, in particular, has come to replace blankets in many South Cotabato households.

Other indigenous ethnic groups in the province are the T'boli and B'laan in Lake Sebu and T'boli municipalities, famous for their brassworks, beadwork and t'nalak weave. The people of these tribes wear colorful embroidered native costumes and beadwork accessories. The women of these tribes, particularly, wear heavy brass belts with brass 'tassels' ending in tiny brass bells that herald their approach even when they are a long way off. The legacy of these tribes to South Cotabato culture is best exemplified in the T'boli t'nalak.


Ilonggo cuisine predominates in the province. Staples on a typical carenderia menu include balbakwa, kinilaw, and laswa as viands, and La Paz batchoy and halo-halo as "short orders".

Music and Arts

The Ilonggo, Ilocano, and Cebuano people have brought their own folk songs, dances and games to the province. South Cotabato children are taught not only the culture of their origins, but also the culture of the other tribes in the province. They learn not only their own folk songs and dances, but also the Maguindanao, T'boli, and B'laan songs and dances.

The native Maguindanaon of South Cotabato have a fascinating culture that revolves around kulintang music, a specific type of gong music, found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines. The T'boli and B'laan tribes have their own distinct beautiful dances.

Official song

South Cotabato March
This is the land of South Cotabato
a place on earth that all should know
the hopes and joys of all with love aglow
between the hearts of high and low...
The Mt. Matutum towering high
that seems to reach the bright blue sky
prosperity doth signify
the hearts and emblems to passersby...
Beautiful province South Cotabato
the land and seas that all should know
beautiful towns are all around you
and gleaming streams of Lake Sebu...
The busy trade in Sarangani
do all bespeak of prosperity
wonderful land of long ago
awaits a love for life anew...
Martsa ng Timog Kotabato
Tayo na sa Timog Kotabato
ang lupain ng pangako
pag-asa at ligaya ng lahat
mayayama't mahihirap...
Bulkang Matutum ang sagisag
ng mabilis na pag-unlad
masaganang pamumuhay
sa atin ay inaalay...
Ito'y mapalad na lalawigan
lupa't dagat ay mayaman
mauunlad na mga bayan
dito ay matatagpuan...
Lawang Sebu'y nakabibighani
kalakal sa Sarangani
nagsasaad ng pag-unlad
at kabutihan sa lahat...


The following are some of the tourist attractions in South Cotabato:


  1. Filipino-Japanese Memorial Shrine
  2. South Cotabato Community Musuem & Tantoco Memorial Hall


  1. T'boli Tribal House-T'boli
  2. Lake Sebu Museum
  3. Sta. Cruz Mission-Lake Sebu
  4. B'laan Community-Landan, Polomolok
  5. Muslim Community-(Datu Utto) Polomolok
  6. Lake Sebu School of Living Traditions
  7. Lake Sebu Cultural Village (Brassmaking & T'nalak Weaving Community)
  8. South Cotabato Community Museum Ethology Showcase


  1. Seven Falls (Lonon Falls)-Lake Sebu
  2. Trank-Kini Falls-Lake Sebu
  3. Lake S'loton
  4. Lake Sebu
  5. Lake Lahit
  6. Lake Maughan-T'boli
  7. Mt. Parker-T'boli
  8. Mt. Matutum-Polomolok
  9. Matimus Falls-Tantangan
  10. Mambukal Hot Springs-Koronadal City
  11. Supon Falls-Koronadal City
  12. Tablu Falls-Tampakan
  13. Linan Falls-Tupi
  14. Polomolok Caves-Polomolok
  15. Lake Sebu Mountain Caves-Lake Sebu
  16. Sarabia Falls-Koronadal City
  17. Lambusong Falls-Norala


  1. Trappestine Sisters Monastery-Polomolok


  1. El Gawel Resort & Wildlife Sanctuary-Koronadal City
  2. Norala Swimming Pool & Hotspring Resort-Norala
  3. Dole-Kalsangi Golf Course-Polomolok
  4. Mariano Blossoms-Tupi
  5. Rem Ching Swimming Pool-Koronadal
  6. Media Villa Spring Hill
  7. Nature's Bounty-Polomolok
  8. Dole Pineapple Plantation-Polomolok
  9. Polomolok Asparagus Plantation-Polomolok
  10. Tampakan Pine Grove Resort-Tampakan
  11. Precioso Swimming Pool & Resort-Koronadal City
  12. Alberto's Power Drive-Koronadal City
  13. Reyes Rare Animal Farms
  14. Estares Resort - Lake Sebu
  15. Punta Isla Resort - Lake Sebu

Special Interest

  1. Golf Tournaments
  2. MPSA Shootfests
  3. Mountain Climbing at Mt. Matutum & Parker
  4. Boating at Lake Sebu & Lake Maughan
  5. Agri-Tours at Dole Pineapple & Polomolok Asparagus Growers
  6. Agri-Tours at Global Fruits Banana Complex


<references />

External links

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