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Capital: Sultan Kudarat

Chartered city: Coatbato City

No. of towns: 18

Land area: 5,474.1 sq. km.

Location. Bounded on the north by Lanao del Sur, on the east by North Cotabato, Mooro Gulf on the west, and Sultan Kudarat on the south.

Overview. The name "Maguindanao" formerly referred to the old Cotabato province in the southwestern portion of Mindanao. At the endo of the 15th century, Islam was introduced to the area by Sharif Mohammed Kabungsunan.

The Cotabato plains constituted one of the largest lowland areas of the country. The Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second largest river in the Philippines, and its numerous distributaries crisscross this vast plain area. The silt deposited by these rivers, has produced one of the richest river lands in Mindanao.

The new province of Maguindanao is proposed to be the home for the Muslim Maguindanaos, known to be the largest group of Muslims in the south. More than the land, the main attraction is the people, the Maguindanaos, themselves.

During the pre-Spanish times and through the entire period of Spanish colonization, Cotabato was a scantly settled region.

Muslim, mountain tribes, Chinese traders peopled the land. The dominant ethnic group was the Maguindanao Muslims.

People. The Maguindanaos belonged to the Maguindanao sultanate, and independent political state centered on the lower valley of the Rio Grande de Mindanao. Traditionally, the Maguindanaos were inland, dwelling Muslims who cultivated rice as their basic food crop. For centuries, they lived in relative peace with the Tirurays, a Pagan tribe that inhabited the uplands of Cotabato.

The Maguindanaos used the Tiruray upland as a place of refuge and source of slaves. The Tirurays looked to the Muslims as their principal market and only contact with the outside world.

Like the Maramos, the Maguindanaos posses an intense degree of Islamic consciousness. They were never actually cornered by the Spaniards up to the middle of the 19th century.

The Maguindanaos, like their other tribal brothers, are musically inclined. One of their instruments is the "kulintang". They use ensemble of eight, nine or eleven gongs of graduating sizes suspended horisontally on a frame. Melodious sounds are produced by the gongs tuned differently from each other but all weaving in and out of a pentatonic scale reminiscent of the court music of Europe and the Middle East. The Maguindanao "kulintang" is usually suspended by three other gongs: the balmdir for a metallic sound, the a "gong" for short cut off sounds, and the gandingan for long low sounds. The ensemble is completed by a vertical drum called Abakan which has an animal skin top. The kulintang is almost always played by woman. The tribe also has a "ring flute" or "suiling" a wind instrument.

Climate. The climate of Maguindanao is generally characterized by more or less even distribution of rainfall throughout the year. Compared to other regions of the Philippines, Maguindanao has the lowest frequency of very cloudy or over-cast days.

Points of interest


Takumi Butai Memorial Shrine. Located at San Sebastian Compound. A monument in honor of Takumi and the Japanese soldiers who died here during the second World War. Takumi was the Provincial Commander of the Japanese forces assigend in Cotabato City. Before he died, he requested that some of his ashes be buried in Cotabato City. This shrine was put up by the Lion's Club of Kyoto, Japan in cooperation with the city of government of Coatabato.

Tamontaka Church. Located at Barangay Tamontaka, it was built in 1872 of Spanish architecture and design. The oldest church in the city, it is relic of the living past.


P. C. Hill. A stone fort towering over Cotabato City with a height of 90 ft. now houses the Cotabato City Internal Defence Command. This is Cotabato City's most famous landmark. This historic hill served as a watcch tower for the natives in their defensive drive to detect and repel assaults by enemies. From this hill one can have a panoramic view of the city and the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Rio Grande de Mindanao. The second largest river in the Philippines and the longest in Mindanao crisscrossing with its tributary the city's vast area. Estimated to be 182 kilometers long and 96 meters wide. Water sports and boat racing are the popular attractions of the river, usually held to coincide with the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival and the Feast of Hariraya Puasa.

Timako Hill. Located at the southwestern part of Cotabato City, adjacent to the entrance of Rio Grande de Mindanao. The hill overlooks the Illana Bay graced by the resorts of Linik, Kushiong and Tapian Point. It is a good resort considering its blue waters and sandy white beach. Ideal site for camping, boating swimming and fishing.


Cotabato City Hall. Located at the heart of Cotabato City's downtown area fronting the City Plaza. A century old structure which houses almost all the city government offices. It showcases a unique and antique architectural design depicting the Muslim Art.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. Located at Barangay Awang. A replica of our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in France. The compound is equipped with ideal retreat house for recollections and seminars, a mini zoo and a children's park.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Compound. Located on Gov. Gutierrez Avenue. It houses the Shariff Kanunsuan Cultural Center, the Regional Museum, the Regional Library and almost all regional offices of Region XII. The buildings and offices in the compound showcase a unique blend of modern and Muslim architecture.


Shariff Kabunsuan Festival (December 19). A colorful festival commemorating the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan via Rio Grande de Mindanao more than 500 years ago to introduce Islam to the natives. This festival is highlighted by a fluvial parade along the Rio Grande de Mindanao followed by the re-enactment of his arrival. Water sports, boat racing, ethnic sports competition, cultural dances, and sports competitions, and a week-long trade fair makes the festival more colorful.

Araw Ang Kotabato (June 20). It commemorates the creation of Cotabato as a charter city. This is marked by cultural presentations, trade exhibits, athletic competitions and other events such as the drum and bugle corps and "saranggolahan" (Kite Festival). The highlight of the affair is the "Mutya ng Kotabato" pageant on the eve of the foundation day.

How to get there. By land, one has to get to Maguindanao via Davao City. And from Davao City on has to take Mintranco Bus Line to get to Cotabato City.
By air, Philippine Airlines flies to Cotabatao City daily from Manila.