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South Cotabato is next major tourist destination in Mindanao
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: -
Date: 2007-10-05
he Department of Tourism (DoT) is eyeing the province of South Cotabato as a major tourist attraction that will help sustain the growing international traveler and investor interest in Mindanao.

"Mindanao is very rich in terms of culture and natural attractions. The region is also steeped in history and tradition. It is only fitting that we share this with the rest of the world, and offer a unique and unforgettable experience," Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said.

He cited Davao Cityís capability to host foreign tourists with charter flights from South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore. With this, the department is currently exploring other areas in Mindanao that can generate interest and spread the economic benefits of tourism.

The secretary was recently in the province for an ocular of major attractions and to discuss with South Cotabato District 2 Rep. Arthur Pingoy, Jr. and Gov. Daily AvanceFuentes the opportunities in the area.

Cultural gem

South Cotabato is currently accessible to foreign visitors via the international airport in General Santos City. It is known primarily for the tranquil Lake Sebu, one of the countryís major watersheds and a rest stop for migratory birds.
Tinalak weaving (Source:

The area is also home to the indigenous highland Tíboli people, whose culture and traditions are ardently protected with the help of an international non-government organization.

The tribe is further famed as the creators of tínalak cloth made of abaca fiber woven into symbolic patterns in black, red and white. A skill passed on from mother to daughter, tínalak is still created by hand and takes months to accomplish. Other crafts include colorful and intricate beaded and brass headdresses, belts and other ornaments.

Historical, archaeological and ethno-cultural artifacts of the Tíboli people are showcased in the Lake Sebu Museum, a native bamboo thatched house located within the tribal village.

Outside this homely institution, visitors can witness craft-making, cultural celebrations, tilapia fishing and the Tíboli way of life in general.

Durano has pledged to provide assistance to the provincial government in developing the areas surrounding Lake Sebu through the Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Employment in Tourism program (GREET). Implemented by the DOT, GREET provides financial grants to small and medium businesses engaged tourism-oriented livelihood projects. Proponents need to ensure that their enterprise guarantees environment protection and sustainable use of the ecotourism site.

"The Tíbolis are very skilled people who produce a wide and unique range of native arts and crafts. We plan to set up artisan villages with homestays around Lake Sebu to feature the tranquil environment, the colors of the Tíboli culture and the creativity and hospitality of the people," Durano shared.

Magnificent water attractions

The province further holds a variety of magnificent land and water forms that can easily attract adventurers.

The Seven Falls provide good swimming spots and nature trails. The Lonon Falls, the largest of the group, pours thousands of cubic meters of water to a natural pool.

Mt. Matutum, which towers at 2,286 meters above sea level, offers mountaineers with breathtaking views.

South Cotabato also boasts of practically typhoon-free weather, good roads, as well as warm and hospitable accommodations.

To jumpstart efforts to promote the province as the newest destination in Mindanao, Durano announced that the winning groups of the 8th Tínalak Festivalís street dancing competition will be invited to participate in the DoTís overseas promotions.

"The studentsí amazing interpretations of their time-honored traditions would no doubt make an impression among foreign travelers and draw them to South Cotabato," he said.

As of May 2007, the DoTís Research and Statistics Division recorded a total of 74,562 foreign and local travelers that have visited South Cotabato. This figure is 14.45 percent higher than the 65,147 arrivals attained in 2005.

[ Lake Sebu Wiki | Mt. Matutum Wiki ]

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