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South Cotabato

Capital: Koronadal

No. of towns: 18

Land area. South Cotabato comprises a land area of about 7,910 sq. kilometers (including Gen. Santos City), with an increase of approximately 77.60 sq. kilometers from its original area. This is due to the newly turned-over barangay from Davao del Sur which form part of the territories of the municipalities of Glan and Malungon.

Location and bounderies. South Cotabato is located in the southernmost part of the island of Mindanao and lies at a latitude of 6 north and 125 east longtitude. It is bounded by the province of Sultan Kudarat in the north and west, in the east by the province of Davao del Sur and in the south by the Celebes Sea. Its main access is through the Saranggani Bay where the modern part of General Santos City is located.

Map of South Cotabato + Davao del Sur (135k) at European Philippine Services
with details like city names etc.

Brief history. The province of South Cotabato came into existence thru the Republic Act No. 4839 which was approved on July 4, 1966. It functioned as a regular province on January 1, 1968 and entered as PDAP province on February 4,1979. It is classified as First Class A province with a total land area of 769,712 hectares and approximately 3,000 sq. miles.

Marbel or Koronadal is the capital town of South Cotabato and is the seat of political, social and economic activities. It is considered a melting pot being peopled by citizens from different parts of the country - Ilocanos, Ilongo, Tagalogs and Bicolanos.

The word "Koronadal" is believed to be the union of two Maguindanao words - Koron or Kalon meaning cogon grass and Nal or Dalal meaning plain - an apt description of the place as first seen by natives. Marbel is a bilaan term which means "murky waters". The place being populated by Bilaans and Maguindanaoans each trivbe has its own name for it. The newly created municipality with a total land area of 89,139 hectares or approximately 891.39 sq. kms. Malungon has 87, 200 hectares area, Malapatan with an area of 84,000 hectares and Tantangan, with only 12,600 hectares.

Political Subdivisions

During its creation as a province, South Cotabato was only composed of 11 municipalities, namely: Balanga, Genaral Santos (now a city), Glan, Kiamba, Koronadal, Maitum, Norala, Polomolok, Surallah, Tantangan and Tupi. These municipalities were created long before the creation of the province. Other component municipalities were only created after it fully functioned as a province.

Today, South Cotabato is composed of 1 city and 18 municipalities. Among its municipalities, two are fast progressing, lide Koronadal, the capital town, and Polomok, which is adjacent to General Santos City. The city of General Santos is likewise very progressive. Including the 18 barangays of General Santos City, the province is composed of 318 barangays.

Climate. Based on climatological readings of the PAG-ASA Weather Bureau of General Santos City, South Cotabato as early as 1967 until 1982, was considered to have fallen under 4th type of climate with rainfall being more or less distributed throughout the year. The months of June, July and September have the most number of rainy days. The mean temperature is recorded between 27 to 28 degrees centigrade. The months from March to June were observed to be the hottest months. From December to January, the coolest months.

Language / Dialect. Major dialect are Ilongo and Ilocano. T´boli is mostly spoken in the hinterlands. There is also a mixture of Cebuano, Tagalog and Waray-Waray.

Major industries. South Cotabato is largely an agricultural province. Its fertile valleys and the presence of mountain ranges has kept South Cotabato from typhoons or tropical depressions. In Koronadal, 54% or approximately 15,450 hectares of the total land area is devoted to agriculture.

The major crops are rice, corn, coconut, pineapple and bananas, though 50% of the total farm area is devoted to rice.

South Cotabato is also known for fishing industry because of its rich fishing grounds particularly Sarangani Bay. Fresh-water fishes are also cultures in Lake Sebu.

Points of Interest


Glan Municipality. Settlement site where the group of Tranquiline Ruiz, Sr. settled in October 1914.

Lalhong Kiamba. Where the first bach of Ilocano settlers landed on March 9, 1920


Sta Cruz Mission (Lake Sebu, Surallah). Its attractions include T´boli handwoven "tinalak" made of dyed abaca, embroidery, basket weaving, beadwork and carving as well as brasswork using the ancient process of wax mold.

T´boli Cultural Minorities. Located west of Lake Sebu. In the mountain of Lake Sebu live a number of minorities. Among them are the Tasadays, a cavedwelling people who lived in isolation of high caves (4,800 ft. above sea level) of primary rain forest areas. West of Lake Sebu is the T´boli settlement. The T´boli have become famous for their colorful costumes, intricate beadwork, beautifully woven baskeys and traditional brass ornaments.

Other cultural minorities found in the area are the Manobo Blit and the Ubo or Tasaday.


Lake Sebu (Suralla, about 20 minutes ride from Marbel). A 365-hectare lake surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, some reaching 900 feet above sea level, home to the T´boli, a highland tribe that has its roots in South Cotabato. It has Falls which irrigate the Allah Valley. Giant tilapias are cultures in fish pans. Falls is noted for its high water discharge capacity.

The local tribesmen consider the lake not only a God-given food basket but also a miraculous body of water that never dries up.

Lumakot Waterfalls (Tantagan, Koronadal)

Matamos Falls (Tantangan, Koronadal). Water cascades from a 15-feet high basin. Ideal site for picnicking and camping.

Lambusong Falls (Norala, Koronadao).

Lumabat Falls (Manungon).

Narcon / Lucirene Falls (Koronadal).

San Jose 7 Badtasan Falls (Koronadal)

Lake Mughan (Municipality of T´boli). The source of 5 big rivers including Allah River. It is a part of the apprximately 50,000 ha. area proposed to be the provincial park and wildlife sanctuary. The lake abounds with wild fauna and flora endemic to South Cotabato. The rare specie of butterfly Graphium decolor tigris is found in Mogocayo and Lem-el-law.


Abiera Farms (Palkan, about 20 minutes ride from the city). Collection of ground and aerial orchids as well as indigenous flowers.

Kalsangi (Kalsangi, Polomolok). The site of Dolefil Clubhouse. It is laid out beautifully at the foot of Mt. Matutum. It includes the housing project of Dolefil executives, a shool, restaurant, swimming pool, golf course and guesthouse. It is also a jump-off point for climbing Mt. Matutum. To visit Kalsangi´s clubhouse, an appointment with the Personnel Manager of Dolefil should be done first.

Sarangani Cattle Ranch (Buayan, Alabel). It boasts of a piggery with five digit population and feedmill that products the ranch´s consumption from sorghum grains.

Dole Cannery (Polomok). A 10,000-hectare pineapple plantation and cannery with a view of Mt. Matutum partly dominating the landscape. It has a housing village for employees and hospital, as well as golf course for executives.


Lake Sebu Festival. Celebrated every November 19.

T´boli Tribal Festival. Celebrated every third week of September. This thanksgiving festival stems from the belief of the T´boli in a golden age which they call Lem-lunay, a sort of Camelot or paradise which they would like to rebuild for themselves. Each festival is a venue to reenergize the people and renew their vow to work for this coveted state of life. Features the convengence of the 6 major tribes of South Cotabato (T´boli, Ubo, Manobo, Kalagan, Maguindanao, Tasaday) together with representatives from the different tribes in Davao (Tirurays, Mandaya, Surigao tribes, Langilan, Bilaan, Bagog, Mansaka).

The festival was originally just a small town fiesta celebrating the feast day of Sta Cruz. However, starting in the 70´s, the religious feast has incorporated the features of the Mo-inum or thanksgiving ritual of the T´bolis. The commemorative mass held during the final day features a unique blend of Catholic ritual and ethnic color. Horse fights, traditional dances and games add more spectacle to this breathtaking and awe-inspiring festival. Here is one festival which one really has to see to believe.

Special interest

Mountain Climbing at Mt. Matutum and Parker. Located in the municipality of T´boli. Crystal-clear lake and wild duck hunting at Tantangan are among the attractions that the mountain climbers have to see and experience for themselves.

How to get there. One can either fly direct to Davao City. Travel by land to Lake Sebu is approximately 6 hours. Or one can take a connecting flight from Cebu Ciity to General Santos City where land travel takes two hours.