South Cotabato is one of the places in Mindanao that tourists keep on coming back to, amidst security threats that have clouded Mindanao. Like other regions in Mindanao, South Cotabato capitalizes on its rich and beautiful nature. Its fertile soil has paved the way to migrations as well as to agricultural industries. Known as the “ Land of the Dreamweavers”, South Cotabato is home to the T’boli tribe, known for their weaving art that bases its patterns on their dreams. Lakes, waterfalls, vast plantations and well-preserved tradition, South Cotabato opens the doors to the picturesque southern region of Mindanao. Enjoy these activities whenever you are in South Cotabato.
1. Visit Lake Sebu
The top attraction in South Cotabato is Lake Sebu and the town where it is located is also named after it. One of the three lakes in the town, Lake Sebu is more than just a tourist destination. The lake is a major watershed in South Cotabato and the lake paved the way for a progressive aquaculture industry, an economic ace in the region. Around the lake are restaurants where visitors can enjoy local dishes, specifically tilapia. For those who love some solitude, spend a night or two in any of its inexpensive accommodations. Likewise, enjoy a relaxing boat ride and see fish pens as well as the verdant forests of Lake Sebu.
2. Taste different Tilapia (St Peter's fish) dishes
Tilapia is the main product of Lake Sebu dating back to the 70s. Today, it plays a major role in the economic status, not just of the town of Lake Sebu but of the whole region. Because of this fish, Lake Sebu became a first-class municipality and people enjoy high quality living. Thus, when in Lake Sebu, expect to dine on different dishes from tilapia. Some of the tilapia dishes you can enjoy include kinilaw (ceviche), tilapia in curry sauce, tilapia in coconut milk, and chicharon tilapia (cooked like fish fillet). In Lake Sebu, you can enjoy 20 different tilapia dishes!
3. Zip line across the falls
The town of Lake Sebu is not only about lakes, do you know that there are 7 falls? Out of the 7 falls, only 2 are accessible by a quick hike or a short drive. If you want to see all the falls through a different perspective, why not take the zip line, flying almost 200 meters (656 feet) high! There are two phrases of zip lining in Lake Sebu. From falls 1-5, you will be zipping a total of 740 meters (2,427 feet) in 40 seconds and for 6-7, the line runs 420 meters (1,377 feet) in 20 seconds. Lake Sebu’s zip line is the highest in Southeast Asia. More than the thrill, taking the zip line lets you see scenic and breathtaking views of Lake Sebu’s falls, rivers, and forest.
4. Find solace in Lake Holon
With its lush forests and unspoiled nature, South Cotabato is the place to enjoy solitude. And if you want to totally detach, trek to Lake Holon. Experienced lake trekkers claim that this lake is not just one of the cleanest but one of the most beautiful. The lake is the crater of Mt. Parker, formed during its eruption centuries ago. Sacred among the T’boli tribe, the trek takes 3-5 hours and has two trails, but everything is worth it once you see this 300-hectare (742 acre) lake with deep blue colored water. Some of the activities to enjoy are swimming, kayaking, and camping.
Address: T'boli South Cotabato, Koronadal Proper, South Cotabato, Philippines
Price: from 11 USD
Duration: at least 24 hours.
Contact: +63 09976091773
Facebook: Lake Holon, South Cotabato
5. Visit the pineapple plantation
Mindanao is home to various plantations, from banana to pineapples. When in South Cotabato, a must-stop is the pineapple plantation in the city of Polomolok. Covering more than 18,000 hectares (44,478 acres), it is a recognizable area as your pass by with the imposing Mt. Matutum as its backdrop. Operated by DOLE Philippines, the plantation is one of the largest in the world. With this plantation tour, you will not only walk along the vast plantation filled with pointed leaves and golden fruit, you will lean more about how the pineapples are planted and harvested. The sweetest part is the free taste of pineapples!
6. Learn about T'boli culture and arts
From our earlier posts, we talk about how the T’nalak is a finely woven and dyed cloth made by the T’boli tribe. But do you know what conditions help create these wonderful pieces? Traditionally, the t’nalak is created on a backstrap loom called a legogong that consists of two beams – one attached to the ceiling, while the other is attached to the weaver’s lower back. They are usually woven in a longhouse, a horizontal structure made to accommodate the long length of the cloth. Do you have any photos of a legogong or a traditional longhouse? We’d love to see some of your photos! #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines #HelloParadise #12thParadise #VisitPH #ChoosePH #LakeSebu #SouthCotabato #Mindanao
One of the indigenous people that resided in South Cotabato are the T’boli. Get to know them by visiting the T’boli Museum set in a traditional T’boli house. See T’boli costume, musical instruments, and other crafts. The highlight of the tour is learning about the T’nalak weaving process, a unique weaving tradition where the T’boli only base their pattern and design on their dreams, thus the name, Dreamweavers.
More Information: T’boli Museum
7. Homestay at Lake Sebu School of Traditions
Lang Dulay was named as a National Treasure, an ambassadress of traditional art in weaving. It was through her that the world got to know T’nalak weaving, with no basis for design and patterns but from her dreams. However, Lang Dulay died in 2015 and the school she built to teach young T’boli to become weavers suffered, including their families. Now, revived by T’boli artist Maria Todi, tourists are encouraged to enjoy homestays and cultural immersion with the T’bolis. Here, tourists will learn not just about T’nalak weaving but the efforts in preserving their culture. Interact with the T’boli tribe, watch cultural performances, and volunteer in various chores in the community. Lang Dulay used to be Lake Sebu’s main attraction and with cultural immersion, the community still lives on.
Lake Sebu School of Traditions
Address: Barangay Poblacion, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Contact: +63 9354569359
Website: Lake Sebu School of Traditions
8. Stop by at Surallah Cultural Landmark
Before going to Lake Sebu, it is worth the time to proceed to the town center of Surallah and stop by at their artistic roundabout called the Surrallah Cultural Landmark. Made by artist, Kublai Khan, the Round Ball, as the locals call it, features the local economy of the province as well as the cultural blend of South Cotabato – T’boli, B’laan, Christians, and Muslims. It is worth the stop and a favorite photo opportunity venue. Beside it is a mini space with the same arts fit for those who need more time for a stopover. A lovely and a rare work of art in South Cotabato, make Surallah Cultural Landmark part of your holiday photos.
More Information: Surallah Cultural Landmark
9. Say hi to the tarsiers
When traveling along South Cotabato, you know you have arrived in the town of Tupi when you start seeing fruit stands along the road. But more than just these sweet fruits, Tupi is home to a tarsier sanctuary. Yes, tarsiers, the smallest primate in the world and the animal most synonymous with the island of Bohol in the Visayas. Called “Mal” by the B’laan people living in the hinterlands of Tupi, they first spotted these tarsiers in 2007. At present, 19 tarsier habitats have been recorded in Tupi, more than the inhabitants identified in Bohol. Visit the Linan Tarsier Conservatory and follow the Tarsier Trail, watching and observing these nocturnal creatures from a safe distance. Extend your trip to different activities offered at the Linan Forest Park.
Linan Tarsier Conservation Sanctuary
Address: City of Koronadal, Province of South Cotabato
Contact: +63 838782140
More information: Linan Tarsier Conservation Sanctuary
Nature and culture at its best!
For those who love to see unchartered terrains, the natural beauty of the Philippines, and learn more about traditional culture, one must visit South Cotabato. This is the place for those who want to absorb the experience, far more than taking photos and selfies – those who want to enjoy meaningful moments and create memories. Nature and culture, these two perfectly interweave in South Cotabato.
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