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North Cotabato

Capital: Kidapawan

No. of towns: 17

Land area: 6,565.9 sq. km.

Location. Bounded on the north by Bukidnon, and Lanao del Sur on the east by Davao, Maguindanao on the west and Cotabato on the south.

Overview. There's a mouthful to say about North Cotabato. First, the name. It is derived from a stone fort, called "Fota Wato".

Next, it was formerly a part of the old province of Cotabato. Aside from North Cotabato, there is a South Cotabato, Maguindanao and a Sultan Kudarat - all of them new provinces carved out from the old Cotabato.

Two of the natural attractions in North Cotabato are the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second largest river in the Philippines and the longest in Mindanao, as well as the Lanzones Forest.

Cotabato's plains takes pride in its fertile stretch of rich soils. The river overflows regularly and deposits its sediments making the land fertile.

At the center of the area is a large river valley traversed by the tributaries of Mindanao Rivers.

Cotabato is home to diverse ethnic groups and varied cultures and occupations result from this. Thus, the entire Cotabato province is a fast growing commercial and industrial center.

The entire Cotabato province used to be called the capital of both Mindanao and Sulu. "Mindanao" meant "inundated" or "that which ha been inundated" is derived from the word "danao", meaning "inundation of a river, lake or sea".

Political subdivisions. North Cotabato comprises the old municipalities of Pigcawayan, Libungan, Alamada, Midsayap, Kabacan, Carmen, Tulunan, Makilala, President Roxas, Magpet, Kidapawan, Pikit, Matalam and Mlang. The name Mlang was derived from the Muslim word "Tamlang" which means bamboo. There were lots of bamboo trees during the early occupation of the town. Mlang was a barrio of Kidapawan before it became a town. Matalam and Tulunan were barrios of Mlang.

Climate. The climate is cool and humid. There are no typhoon but rainfall is frequent. The plains of Cotabato also lie between long mountain breezes which are sources of cool breezes.

Major industries. The favorable climate of North Cotabato is responsible for its favorable productivity. Coconut, rice sugar, abaca, pineapple, cotton, coffee, tobacco and ramie are among the products of the North Cotabato province.

Likewise, livestock, hog and poultry raising, fishing and logging are industries.

Copper is a primary mineral resource. While timber and grazing lands are leading forest resources.

Economy. Old Cotabato was one of the richest provinces in the country. The potentials of the province, however, have not been fully developed because of the magnitude of the task of administereing such a large area and because of troubles that have long plagued North Cotabato. The division of the old province Cotabato into three is expected to result in more effective administration and hasten the development for all the three provinces.

The area was one of the principal theaters of the recent conflict in Mindanao. Normal economic activities were disrupted during the fighting, and the three provinces are just recovering and returning to normalcy.

Points of interest

Natural

New Israel. A barangay of Makilala which is 7 kilometers away from Kidapawan along the concrete national highway. This barangay is well known for its numerous monkeys.

Flortam Hot Spring. Once a legend, it has become a major tourist attraction. It is calle "Fountain of Youth" as visitors are mostly old folks who have arthritis and rheumatism. Blessed with a natural hot spring, it has become a week-end recreational as well as medical center. It is situated in Makilala, 5 kilometers from the national highway and is accessible by all kinds of transportation.

Pisan Cave. A cave in Kabacan which is full of bats and snakes. It is recommended site for snake and bat hunting.

Pikit Fort. An old Spanish fort in Mindanao located in the municipality of Pikit.

Man-made

Children's Educational Foundation Village (Dorolunan, Magpet).

Mit Campuz (North Cotabato).

Mit Amphitheater and Museum (Pikit).

Boy Scout / Girl Scout Camp (Makilala).

Firestone Rubber Plantation.

Camp Pauline Santos.

Festivals

Kalibongan. A Manobo term for a Grand Festival celebrated yearly in Kidapawan, Cotabato. In February, the Manobos, Bagobos, and other highland tribes from the different parts of the province go down to Kidapawan to show off and proudly display their tradition and cultural heritage.

How to get there. By air, Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Cotabato City daily. Travel time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.
By land, one gets to North Cotabato via Davao City. Philtranco serves the Manila-Davao City route. Travel time is about 48 hours from Davao City, one takes a bus bound for the capital, Kidapawan.
By sea, William Lines and Sulpicio Lines serve the port of Polloc in Parang, Maguindanao. From Polloc Port, take a jeepney ride to Cotabato City wherein one has to take a bus or jeepney to Kidapawan.