Three Wonders Of COTABATO!

December 2015

Cotabato City, North Cotabato (also known as Cotabato), South Cotabato: they all have the same root, COTABATO– a word derived from Maguindanao word ‘kuta wato‘ and the Malay word ‘kota bato’ which means City of Stones. A place that is very rich in tradition, culture and nature.

Let’s start first in my Hometown, Cotabato City!

1 – SULTAN HAJI HASSANAL BOLKIAH MOSQUE

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Grand Mosque

Also known as ‘Grand Mosque’ and currently dubbed as the largest mosque in the Philippines. The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah funded this mosque, thus its name is taken after him. It is located at Barangay Kalanganan Dos, Cotabato City, approximately 30-45 minutes away from the down town area.

Getting There

To Cotabato City

From Manila, the quickest way of getting there is via Airplane. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines offer a 1 hour and 45 minute direct flight to Cotabato City (Awang airport).

From Davao City, I personally recommend taking a van going to Cotabato because the travel time is shorter (around 4-5hours) compared to Bus which can take up to 6-7 hour travel time. The van terminal is located along SM Ecoland Davao and the fare is 350 php.

From Gensan City, you can take a 4-5 hour Bus (Husky Bus) ride directly to Cotabato City for 300 php. Van transfer (A.G.P van) is also available. The transit time (3-4hrs) is shorter compared to bus and the fare is around 280php. Just ride a tricycle and tell the driver that you are heading to Bus/Van terminal bound to Cotabato City.

To Mosque

From Cotabato City, ride a jeepney or a town ace (larger version of multicab) via Highway-Awang route for only 12 php and tell the driver to drop you off along the motorcycle/ habal-habal terminal going to the mosque. The round trip fare for the habal-habal is around 100-150 php good for 2 persons.

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Front View- ‘Grand Mosque’

Note

  • You will not be allowed to enter the mosque if you are wearing shorts and sleeveless shirt.
  • Dating and intimate activities are strictly prohibited inside the mosque
  • No Entrance fee is collected.
  • Grab some snacks and drinks before heading to the mosque since the availability of stores nearby are very limited.
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Inside the ‘Grand Mosque’
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Inside the ‘Grand Mosque’

Where To Stay

  1. Pension Rafael

Address: San Isidro Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421-2941

  1. Fiesta Cotabato

Address: Dr. Rabago Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421-5491

  1. Hotel Cirilo

Address: Sultan Makakua Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421-3583

  1. Hotel Filipino & Restaurant

Address: Sinsuat Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421- 2307 | 421-3232

  1. Vision Inn

Address: Bonifacio Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 7289 | 421 – 1364

  1. Citi Plaza

Address: Makakua Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421-9148

  1. Pacific Heights Pension House

Address: San Vicente Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421- 5832

  1. Hotel Castro

Address: Sinsuat Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 7523

  1. Sardonyx Pension House

Address: Gov. Gutierrez Street, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 1364

  1. Azaleas Pension House

Address: Sinsuat Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421- 8122

  1. Diamond Hotel

Address: Cor. Makakua & Jose Lim Sr. St., Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 5118

  1. El Manuel Hotel

Address: Quezon Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 9883

  1. Estosan Garden Hotel

Address: Gov. Gutierrez Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421 – 6777 to 81, (064) 421-5488 (Fax)

  1. Grand Rio Hotel

Address: Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue, Cotabato City
Contact Info: (064) 421-8770

  1. Alnor Hotel and Convention Center

Address: Alnor Commercial Center, Sinsuat Ave, Cotabato City.
Contact Info: (064) 552-01-88


 2 – ASIK ASIK FALLS

(From Religion to Mother Nature )IMG_6812

Located in Barangay Upper Dado, Alamada in North Cotabato is a unique spring waterfalls. Unlike the usual waterfalls where the water comes from a river and cascades down the cliff, its water arises from the rocks covered by lush greenery vegetation. The falls itself is a must see for every tourist visiting Cotabato.

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Alamada Rolling Hills
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Alamada Rolling Hills
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Again! Alamada Rolling Hlls

Getting There

From Cotabato City, ride a tricycle and tell the driver to drop you off at the Bus/Van Terminal heading to Midsayap. Upon reaching the terminal, ask for a bus or van bound to or will pass through Libungan terminal/public market. The travel time is approximately 30 minutes and the fare is 40php for the bus and 60php for the van.

At Libungan Terminal, hire a habal-habal (motorcycle) up to Asik-asik’s drop-off point. The usual fare is around 400php-500php ROUNDTRIP and already good for two persons. The price is still negotiable depending on your haggling skills. As of May 2015, some parts of the road going to the waterfalls are under construction, so please expect and be prepared for a VERY ROUGH journey ahead.

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Panoramic Shot of Asik-Asik Falls
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Mini Bridge at Asik-Asik Falls

Note

  • Restaurants and stores near the area are very limited. They are only located at the habal-habal’s drop-off point.
  • Bring snacks and plenty of water.
  • Bring extra clothes and towel.
  • Try Pastil (rice with minced chicken toppings), a local delicacy in Cotabato.
  • The area becomes crowded during the weekends, so it is best to visit on weekdays to avoid the crowd.
  • A 30-peso registration fee is collected at the drop-off point before the trek to the waterfalls.
  • Camping is allowed near the registration area.
  • Mobile signal is available up until the drop-off point.
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Shower with the Gang 🙂
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Asik-Asik Falls
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Early morning shot of Asik-Asik Falls
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Can you spot me??

Where to Stay 

            There are no available hotels near Asik-Asik falls. Tourists are either staying overnight in Cotabato City or in Midsayap North Cotabato. Or if you want, you can pitch your tent near the registration area.

Hotels in Midsayap, North Cotabato

  1. Hotel Angelo

Address: AH26, Midsayap, Cotabato, Philippines
Phone: 084 299 9436

  1. Twin Cubs Haven Hotel

Address: Poblacion 6, Midsayap, Cotabato, Philippines
Phone: 09184638608

  1. Hill Park Hotel and Restauant

Address: Pan – Philippine Hwy, Midsayap, Cotabato, Philippines
Telephone: (632) 662-1111

3 – LAKE SEBU

(From North Cotabato to South Cotabato)

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Lake Sebu

Situated 3,300 ft. above sea level is a town of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato. It is home to the indigenous tribes of T’boli, Ubo, and Tiruray. The place is surrounded by rolling hills and mountains and is known for its 7 stunning waterfalls, lakes and clean rivers. The main tourist attraction in the area is the two-way ‘7 waterfalls zipline’, which claims to be the highest zipline in Southeast Asia, measuring around 300 meters above sea level.

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One of the 7 Waterfalls in Lake Sebu
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On our way to the One of the 7 Waterfalls in Lake Sebu
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One of the 7 Waterfalls in Lake Sebu

Getting There

From General Santos City

            Coming from Manila, the nearest and the more popular jump-off point is General Santos City. Cebu Pacific and PAL offer direct flight to Gen San International Airport. From there, you can ride a tricycle or a habal-habal and have the driver dropped you off at Bulaong bus terminal. Catch the 1-hour bus trip bound to Marbel. The fare is 83 pesos, one way. From Marbel, hop on a bus bound to Lake Sebu. The travel time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and the fare is 55 pesos. Then you can ride a habal-habal for 50 pesos to your exact destination.

From Cotabato City

            If you are already in Cotabato City, there’s no need to go to Gen San just to catch the bus bound to Marbel. There are vans having direct trips to Marbel at Jose Lim Avenue. Just ride a habal-habal or a tricycle and tell the driver to drop you off at the van terminal. Travel time is approximately 2 hours and the fare is around 250php. Once you reach Marbel, just take on any bus bound to Lake Sebu.

Other Route (From Marbel Terminal)

            Buses from Marbel directly bound to Lake Sebu are limited at times. They easily get full and only a number of buses ply the route everyday. Alternatively, from the bus terminal at Marbel, you can hop on a van bound to Surallah for a fare of 28php. Travel time is about 30 minutes. Once you arrive at Surallah, take on a van bound to Lake Sebu. The estimated fare is 35 php. Then hire a habal-habal or motorcycle for 50 php to you exact destination.

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One of the Lakes in Lake Sebu
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T’boli Children
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T’Boli Children

7 Things To Do in Lake Sebu

  • Ride the two-way Zipline
  • Appreciated the Indigenous T’boli culture
  • Visit the 7 Hikongs or Waterfalls
  • Try the native dresses and accessories
  • Visit one of the weaving houses
  • Visit the 3 lakes and watch the lotus to bloom during sunrise
  • Eat TILAPIA!!!!
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Yummy Tilapya Chicharon 🙂
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Up-close Look of the Beautiful Lotus
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My friends are ready to conquer the highest zipline in Asia
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Scanned photo souvenir at Lake Sebu (Waterfalls at the back) 🙂

Notes

  • ATM’s are not available in the area but major credit cards are accepted in some hotels and restaurants.
  • Zipline fee is 250php during weekdays and 300 on weekends.
  • Hire a tour guide or negotiate with the habal-habal driver if you want to visit all the waterfalls and lakes.
  • Mobile signal is available in the area.

Where to Stay

  1. Punta Isla Lake Resort

Address: Surallah-Lake Sebu Road, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Phone: +63 83 238 8503

  1. Dolores Resort

Address: Surallah-Lake Sebu Rd, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Phone: +63 83 236 1058

  1. Sun Rise Garden Lake Resort

Address: Sitio Outlet, Barangay Lake Seloton, Lake Sebu, 9506 South Cotabato
Phone: +63 936 416 9344

  1. Lake Sebu Mountain Log Resort

Address: 2020, Surallah-Lake Sebu Rd, South Cotabato
Phone: +63 83 236 1052

  1. Monte Cielo Resort

Address: Surallah-Lake Sebu Rd, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Phone: 63917 923 0957

  1. Bob Nowong

Address: Purok Rosas, Barangay Poblacion, Lake Sebu, 9512 South Cotabato
Phone: +63 917 908 4236

  1. Tolento Lodge

Address: Surallah-Lake Sebu Rd, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Phone: +63 63 236 1056

  1. FB Hotel and Convention Center

Address: National Highway, Koronadal City, South Cotabato
Phone: +63 83 228 7702

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Thank You Lake Sebu 🙂

AUTHOR’S RECOMMENDATION

  • Personally, I recommend that you start your trip down South of Cotabato. It would be best if you will be coming from General Santos City and visit Lake Sebu first.
  • If you are planning to visit Asik-Asik in Alamada, and you will be coming from Gen San, it would be best to go to Cotabato City first. You might find direct bus trip from Gen San to Midsayap but it is not highly recommended. The travel time is longer compared to if you’re coming from Cotabato City.
  • Once in Cotabato City, you can also visit the nearby town of Maguindanao. Tourist attractions include the Pink Mosque (Masjid Dimaukom), Blue Lagoon (must-see) and Kibucay Falls. (will be posting a quick travel guide in my page soon J)
  • The place is safe: I was BORN and RAISED in Cotabato 🙂
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Blue Lagoon in Barangay Margues, Maguindanao
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Pink Mosque in Maguindanao (Photo from my Friend)
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Kibucay Waterfalls of Upi, Maguindanao

IG: @tsetseflying

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8 Comments

  1. Hi, I had my SOCCSKSARGEN trip last September 2015 and it was definitely one for the books and the highlight of my 2015 trips, tho I didn’t got the chance to visit Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat, i managed to wander around GenSan, Saranggani and South Cotabato.. Have you tried paragliding at Maasim, Saranggani and White Water Tubing at Maitum, Saranggani? It was awesome. 😀

    Pushing my trip was a battle itself because you know how people depict Mindanao right? All i can say is MindaNOW is not really what the media seems to tell us.

    Anyway, my ever growing bucketlist includes Asik-Asik falls and the pink mosque also the blue lagoon, its just, my family won’t allow me to travel especially if its in Cotabato City because of safety issues. Frustrating but still hoping that one day I’ll be able to come back and finish my SOCCSKARGEN trip.

    Thanks for this! I’ll follow your adventures from now on.
    ALSO MALDIVES, Ahhhh!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! Thank you for the positive feedback ma’am 🙂 Mindanao is LOVE! haha. I was born and raised in Cotabato City and I must say that the place is really SAFE 🙂 I haven’t explored Maasim and Saranggani yet, but maybe one day! hahaha. Btw, thanks for the support! ❤

    Like

      1. Yes, definitely. My brother in law lives in Maguindanao and lived there for 2 years. There’s a lot to discover that hopefully the rest will be able to visit.

        Like

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