South Cotabato

South Cotabato is becoming one of the fastest growing provinces in the Philippines and is home to the ethnic group, T’boli.

It has a microclimate which makes it a whole lot of fun to go around. Marbel or Koronadal, the provincial Capitol of South Cotabato can get quite warm. Lake Sebu, on the other hand, has been described as “Little Baguio.” It’s nice and chilly, and a good place for a breath of fresh, cool air.

Getting here is quick one-hour plane ride from Manila, with General Santos as the main hub. Another 30-minute drive and you’ll hit the township of Polomolok and a 12,000-hectare field of pineapples.

The most prominent attracton is the majestic Mt. Matutum, soaring high at 2293 km above sea level. It’s considered to be one of the 22 active volcanoes in the country.  But no need to worry, the last time it erupted was in 1911, and it hasn’t made a sound since. From the town of Tupi, the camp to the summit is a four to five-hour trip and you’ll see a beautiful lush forest of various flora and fauna.

Koronadal or Marbel to the locals is much like any young city with its mix of provincial lifestyle with urbanized development. It has its fair share of restaurants like Sabalai Bistro and resorts such as the Farm at Carpenter Hill.

If you want to learn more about Philippine indigenous groups, visit Lake Sebu and stay at one of the many resorts such as Punta Isla or Estares.  Or have an adventure with Cultureight Travel and their version of sustainable eco-tourism, which means staying at a local long house with a T’boli family.

For a dose of excitement, go to Seven Falls—a must do.  Like a scene from the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings, each falls hides a secret little piece of splendor, as if the very spirit of the T’boli people rests here, among raging waters that have flowed for thousands of years. And to top it all off, the locals have added a zipline that soars above the falls and the river.

T’boli town is one of those under-the-radar places that have yet to be discovered. There is a geyser here called El Minit Geyser.

Mt. Parker is in the vicinity soaring 1,600 meters above sea level. At the foot of the mountain is Lake Maughan with its virgin forest and rare species of butterfly.

And of course, we’ll always go back to T’nalak, the most famous T’boli product produced by the women dreamweavers of Lake Sebu. Unparalleled in design and quality, there is a School of Living Traditions that enable the younger generation to hone and understand the craft of the T’nalak. Lang Dulay, the most famous weaver of them all, shares her skills with the younger generation here.