Cotabato City

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City of Cotabato
Eagle eye view of Cotabato City
Cotabato City Hall
Mall of Alnor (Robinsons Town Center)
Rio Grande De Mindanao River in Cotabato City
Eagle eye view of Cotabato City ; City Hall of Cotabato; Mall of Alnor (Robinsons Town Center); Rio Grande De Mindanao in Cotabato City
Official seal of Cotabato
“City of Cultural Charms”
“City of Rivers and Creeks”
“Stone Fortress of Mindanao”
“The Historical City of Cotabato”
“Halal Capital of the Philippines”
Sigay ka Cotabato! (Shine Cotabato!)
Map of Maguindanao highlighting Cotabato City
Map of Maguindanao highlighting Cotabato City
Cotabato is located in Philippines
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 7°13′N 124°15′E / 7.22°N 124.25°E / 7.22; 124.25Coordinates: 7°13′N 124°15′E / 7.22°N 124.25°E / 7.22; 124.25
RegionSoccsksargen (Region XII)
ProvinceMaguindanao (geographically only)
District1st District of Maguindanao
During Manobo period13th century
Founded as capital of Maguindanao Sultanatec. 1520
Founding of Pueblo de Cotabato1862
CityhoodJune 20, 1959
Founded byApo Mamalu and Apo Tabunaway
 • TypeSangguniang Panlungsod
 • MayorFrances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (One Kutawato)
 • Vice MayorGraham Guiani Dumama
 • Total176.00 km2 (67.95 sq mi)
(2015 census)[3]
 • Total299,438
 • Density1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Cotabateño (masculine) Cotabateña (feminine)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)64
Income class3rd city income class
Revenue (₱)899.754 Million Local Source Income plus Internal Revenue Allotment(2017) [4]
Electorate103,530 voters as of 2016
Climate typeTropical climate
LanguageTagalog, Maguindanaon, Chavacano, Maranao, Iranun, Cebuano, English
City Annual Budget for 2018 (₱)938 million (Approved)[5]

Cotabato City, officially the City of Cotabato (Maguindanaon: Ingud nu Kutawatu; Iranun: Inged a Kotawato) is a city in the Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 299,438.[3]

Although Cotabato City is the regional center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the city is administratively part of the Soccsksargen region, which is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, (North) Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani, as well as the highly urbanized city of General Santos. Cotabato City is an independent component city, not subject to regulation from the Provincial Government of Maguindanao where it is geographically located. The Philippine Statistics Authority also list Cotabato City as statistically independent. For geographical and legislative purposes, it is grouped with the province of Maguindanao but still does not belong to the ARMM.[6]

Cotabato City is distinct from and should not be confused with the province of Cotabato. The city was chartered by the virtue of Republic Act No. 2364.[7]


The Spanish fortress in Cotabato, El Fuerte Reina Regente, 1896

Prior to the arrival of Hindus and Muslims, the city was a vast swamp and rainforest landscape where numerous ethno-linguistic groups lived. Maguindanao vernacular architecture developed during this era, which included the architectural techniques of at least 10 ethno-linguistic groups. Later on, Hindu traders arrived and the people of the area embraced the practice of Hinduism. The set of moral standards and culture of present-day people of Maguindanao are seen due to this Hindu influence.[8][9]

Sultanate of Maguindanao[edit]

By 1515, after a successful Islamic colonization in Sulu, Muslim traders went to Maguindanao and converted many of the natives to Islam. Those that did not accept the arrival of the Muslims went into higher ground or the interior of the island. During the same year, the Sultanate of Maguindanao was formally established, with Kota Wato as its capital, and ruled a vast territory in Mindanao from until its total collapse in 1888.

Datu Piang, fourth from the left, with American officers circa 1899. He was the first governor of the Empire Province of Cotabato; Cotabato City was once the capital of the province from 1920 to 1967.

Following the Spanish evacuation in Jan. 1899, Datu Piang led the Moro's in a massacre of the remaining Christian community, enslaving those they did not kill.[10]:529–530 Americans arrived in Mindanao in 1900 after the Spanish–American War ended in 1898. Cotabato town was part of Moro Province and of Department of Mindanao and Sulu from 1903 to 1920, when the Empire Province of Cotabato, referred to as "Moroland" by the Americans, was founded with the town as the capital, with Datu Piang as its first governor.[6]

Cotabato Empire[edit]

Cotabato Empire Map

Several towns were carved off from Cotabato town since the year 1913, with Pikit being the first one founded by Cebuano Christian colonists. Dulawan (now Datu Piang, Maguindanao) and Midsayap were incorporated as regular municipalities in 1936. In 1942, at the beginning of the Pacific Front of World War II, the Japanese Imperial forces entered what is now Maguindanao province. In 1945, Maguindanao was liberated by allied Philippine Commonwealth troops and Muslim Maguindanaoan guerrilla units after defeating the Japanese Imperial forces in the Battle of Maguindanao during the Second World War.[6] In August 18, 1947, just two years after the Second World War and a year after the official inauguration of Philippine independence, the number of towns in the gigantic Cotabato province were multiplied by Executive Order No. 82 signed by President Manuel Roxas, namely: Kidapawan, Pagalungan, Buayan, Marbel, Parang, Nuling, Dinaig, Salaman, Buluan, Kiamba, and Cabacan, a total of eleven (11) towns added to the previous four towns; the newly founded towns of Kabuntalan, Pikit (conversion as regular municipality), and Glan added up in September 30, 1949. More and more newly created towns added up in the province's number of towns as the province entered the second half of the 20th century.[6]

Cityhood Status[edit]

Cotabato City Legislative Building

The city used to be part of the original Province of Cotabato and was its capital from 1920 until 1967, a year after the separation of South Cotabato; since then the city was the administrative center of the ARMM when Maguindanao was carved out in 1973. However, the city broke off administratively from Maguindanao as it rejoined Soccsksargen in the 1990s. Now many sources consider the city as part of the present Cotabato province, although geographically it is still considered part of Maguindanao.[6]


Cotabato is approximately 698.9 nautical miles (1,294.4 kilometres) from Manila, the country's capital, and is bounded by the municipalities of Sultan Kudarat to the north—with Rio Grande de Mindanao separating the two—Kabuntalan to the east, and Datu Odin Sinsuat to the south. The city faces Illana Bay, part of the Moro Gulf, to the west.

Cotabato City has a total land area of 176.0 square kilometers, located at the mouth of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and Pulangi River.[11]


The city is situated in the lowest portion of Maguindanao province. The City of Cotabato with its 37 barangays spans an area with marked landscapes of flat, level to nearly level, very gently sloping to gently undulations to moderately sloping or rolling. It is basically a delta formed by two big rivers, the Tamontaka River and the Rio Grande de Mindanao. Basically 70% of its total land area is below sea level. There are only 2 existing elevated areas in the city, the PC Hill and the Timako Hill with an altitude of 90 and 150 feet, respectively.

Concentration of settlements and other urban uses are in the central portion while the southwestern and southeastern portion have mixed uses of agricultural land settlements. The city is criss-crossed by meandering and braided creeks and rivers like the Matampay, Parang, Timako, Esteros and Miwaruy.

These water bodies serve as sources of both agricultural, industrial and domestic water requirements of some rural barangays. These rivers also serve as the natural drainage flow of the city’s wastes.


Cotabato City is politically subdivided into 37 barangays.[12][13]

Cotabato City Map
  • Bagua Proper
  • Bagua I
  • Bagua II
  • Bagua III
  • Kalanganan
  • Kalanganan I
  • Kalanganan II
  • Poblacion Proper
  • Poblacion I
  • Poblacion II
  • Poblacion III
  • Poblacion IV
  • Poblacion V
  • Poblacion VI
  • Poblacion VII
  • Poblacion VIII
  • Poblacion IX
  • Rosary Heights Proper
  • Rosary Heights I
  • Rosary Heights II
  • Rosary Heights III
  • Rosary Heights IV
  • Rosary Heights V
  • Rosary Heights VI
  • Rosary Heights VII
  • Rosary Heights VIII
  • Rosary Heights IX
  • Rosary Heights X
  • Rosary Heights XI
  • Rosary Heights XII
  • Rosary Heights XIII
  • Tamontaka Proper
  • Tamontaka I
  • Tamontaka II
  • Tamontaka III
  • Tamontaka IV
  • Tamontaka V


Under the Köppen climate classification system, Cotabato City features a tropical rainforest climate (Af), falling just short of a tropical monsoon climate (Am).

Climate data for Cotabato City (1981–2010, extremes 1986–2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36.1
Average high °C (°F) 32.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.8
Average low °C (°F) 22.9
Record low °C (°F) 20.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 88.4
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 9 9 11 11 17 20 19 16 16 17 14 12 171
Average relative humidity (%) 75 74 74 73 74 76 76 76 76 76 75 75 75
Source: PAGASA[14][15]


Queen of Peace Church Cotabato
Population census of Cotabato City
YearPop.±% p.a.
1970 61,184—    
1975 67,097+1.87%
1980 83,871+4.56%
1990 127,065+4.24%
1995 146,779+2.74%
YearPop.±% p.a.
2000 163,849+2.39%
2007 259,153+6.53%
2010 271,786+1.75%
2015 299,438+1.86%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][16][17][18]

The majority of the inhabitants of Cotabato City are Maguindanaoan, comprising about 50% of the city's population. There are sizable ethnic populations of Cebuanos (14%), Tagalogs (9.7%), Iranun (7%), Hiligaynons (5.6%), Binisaya (2.7%) and Chinese (2%) . The remainder of the population belongs to other ethnicities (e.g. Tausug, Tiruray, Ilocano, Maranao and Indian).[19]


The main languages are Maguindanao and Tagalog. Cebuano and Chavacano, spoken by both Christians and Muslims, as well as Iranun, Maranao, English, and Arabic, are also heard in the city. The dialect of Chavacano native to Cotabato City is referred to as Cotabateño.[20]


As reported by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on 2015, 76.15% of the people of Cotabato City are adherent of Islam and mainly belong to Sunnites.[21] The followers of Islam are mainly Maguindanaoan, Iranun, Maranao, and Tausug people. The remaining proportion belong to non - Islamic belief such as Christianity, Buddhism and other sects.

Recognition and Awards[edit]


  • CMCI- In the recently released 2018 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), the City of Cotabato ranked 15th place on the Overall Competitive Component Cities in the Philippines. Cotabato was the only awardee in the entire Region XII being 3rd place on Government Efficiency. Also Cotabato was the most Competitive City in Region 12 and the 4th most competitive city in Mindanao.
  • Presidential Lingkod Bayan Regional Awardee.
  • PNP Report - Cotabato City has the lowest Average Monthly Crime Rate(AMCR) in the Philippines, with only 17.32 AMCR
  • 2018 Most Business Friendly LGU Award, Special Citation for assuring the business sector growth and confidence by supplementing the national government efforts to reduce prohibited drug abuse and criminality and efficient streamlining of business processes resulting in a 38% increase in the number of new business enterprises.
  • 2018 GAWAD KALASAG, Best Prepared City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (2nd place)
  • Best Performing Peace and Order Council (Regional award given by DILG XII)
  • Most Outstanding Sangguniang Panglungsod (Regional award given by DILG XII)


  • Seal of Good Local Governance 2017
  • Certification of Good Financial Housekeeping 2017
  • 2017 Most Outstanding City Executive given by Mindanao Federation of the Fourth Estate, Inc.
  • 2017 CMCI National Awardee 2nd place for Government Efficiency
  • 2017 Best Tourism Organization in the whole Region 12 given by Department of Tourism
  • 2016 Seal of Child Friendly Governance given by Council for the Welfare of Children.


CityMall Cotabato
Mall of Alnor Main Building Facade
Southseas Mall, Along Sk pendatun Avenue Facade


Cotabato City has one of the Highest Bank Deposits in Mindanao with total of Php18,736,523,000.00 deposits as of June 30, 2017 with 150,406 bank accounts[22] the city has 20 banks (Private and Government), due to high bank deposits and good economic dynamism. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas built its Central Mindanao branch in the city.

Alnor Suites Hotel

The city has local and national-based shopping centers. Local-based shopping centers like Superama, Sugni, Mall of Alnor, and South Seas Mall have been in competition with the national-based shopping centers like CityMall, Puregold, Robinsons Supermarket and Department Store, Centro Department Store, and SM Savemore. Cotabato City is one of the fastest growing economy in the Soccsksargen region.[23]

KCC Malls have confirmed their interest to build a mall within the City's Downtown. Construction will start after the clearing operations are finished.[24] NCCC Malls, a Davao-based mall corporation have also confirmed their interest to build their mall within the city.[25]


Downtown Cotabato City along Magallanes Street
Puregold 2nd branch in Cotabato City

Cotabato City has a more or less 1,700 hectares of fishponds which has an annual production of 85,000 kg of mud crabs, prawn and milkfish.[26][27][28]

Aiming to be the halal hub of the Philippines, the City Government and Malaysian Businessman built a Class AA halal slaughter house in Baranggay Kalangan II in the city primary serving the entire Central Mindanao.[29] The city also has different restaurants both local (Lesorelle, Kai’s lounge, Picante Pizza, Sugar Pappi, Chefmel, Cheraf, Maguindanaon Restaurant, Reese Restaurant, Las Hermanas, Aling Precy, Elcomedor, Tati’s, Mang gorio, Pritong Manok, Manong’s, Moro Cafe and Rebecca Buffet Restaurant) and popular restaurants like McDonald’s, Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Mang Inasal, Goldilocks, Red Ribbon, Chicken Deli, Mandarin Tea Garden, Queen Bee, Hukad, Calda Pizza, Bo's Coffee, Infinitea, Cafetribu and Turks Shawarma.[30]

Cotabato City “Double A” Standard Halal Slaughterhouse

The city has different factories for cooking oil, coffee, corn starch, processed food and furniture operating within the city which helps in boosting its economy. Giant factories from neighboring towns has established their offices in the city like Lamsan Inc.[31] and Maria Makiling Coconut Resources Corp.[32]


Points of interest[edit]

The Sultan Hajji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque
Immaculate Conception of Tamontaka as of April 2018
  • Rio Grande de Mindanao: Second largest river system in the Philippines.
  • Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid: The biggest mosque in the Philippines that can accommodate approximately 15,000 worshippers.[33]
  • Kutawato Caves is only cave system found in the heart of a Philippine City, it is located in the foot of PC Hill.
  • Old Cotabato City Hall Museum: A century old structure which formerly houses Marines Camp. It is currently a museum which showcases the architectural design of the Maguindanaon Art.[34]
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception of Tamontaka: The oldest church, of Spanish architecture and design, was built by the Jesuits. This is where the old settlement was built in 1872. During the 1976 Moro Gulf earthquake, a portion of the church collapsed but the Oblate Fathers restored the ruin parts following the original design.
Cotabato Old Provincial Capitol located at PC Hill, Cotabato City
  • Old Provincial Capitol: An early American architecture which was the seat of then Empire Province of Cotabato. It houses now by the reserved Military Soldiers.
  • People's Palace: A structure located at Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10 combining ethno-modern architectural with Muslim-inspired roof symbolizing its royalty and Roman art symbolizing the existence of Christianity in the City. The entire bureaucracy of the Executive Department are now housed under one roof.[35]
  • ORC Complex: The regional seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao a 32 hectares compound regional center located at southwest of Cotabato City which composed of different government offices of the entire region of ARMM and some offices of the SOCCSARGEN. Most buildings are built with state-of-the-art Islamic architecture.
  • Tantawan Park: This park is build at the foot of Pedro Colina Hill which stand the huge golden statue of Sultan Kudarat.
Pedro Colina (PC) Hill May 2018
Baywalk in Cotabato City August 2018
  • Baywalk: The new emerging tourist spot in Cotabato, it was first to be just a riverbank protection project, but later on it was realize that it can be develop as a boulevard, facing the Tamontaka River part of Mindanao River and Mount Minandar, the boulevard is also named as a “sunset park” because of its beautiful scenery during sunset.[36]


  • Araw ng Cotabato (20 June): The celebration of City’s Charter Day.[37]
Kuyog Street Dance and Showcase Competition 2018 at Cotabato City Plaza
  • Shariff Kabunsuan Festival (December 15–19): A colorful festival celebrating the arrival of shariff kabunsuan via Rio Grande De Mindanao more than 500 years ago introducing the Islam to natives, the festival will features SK trade fair, batlle of the bands, mindanao business forum, cultural presentations, street dancing competition, fluvial parade and kanduli (thanks giving banquent).[38]
  • Our Lady of Peñafrancia Fiesta (3rd Sunday of September): Celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia hosted by the Bicolano Association of Cotabato City. This annual event is a replica of the same event in Naga City.
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8): The patroness of Cotabato City, the feast of the Immaculate Conception is held from the first day of December.
  • Pakarajaan Festival (March to December): Pakaradjaan is a generic term for celebration among ethno-linguistic tribes in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, highlights of the activity for 2018 are, ARMM Villages, April 16; Ramadhan Trade Fair, May 15 to June 15; Food Festival, July 23; MasterChef Competition, August 24; ARMM debate competition, September 21 to 23; Lanao del Sur cultural night, October 17; Tawi-Tawi cultural night, October 24; Sulu cultural night, October 31; Sheikh Makhdum Celebration, November 7; Basilan cultural night, November 14; Sayaw Street Dance Competition, November 19; Maguindanao cultural night, November 21; Moro Film Festival, December 4 to 7; Sports Peace Festival, November 7 to December 9; Shariff Kabunsuan, Closing Program and Awards Night, Fluvial Float Competition, December 19.


Arrival Area Cotabato City Airport

Cotabato City can be reached via Cotabato Airport in neighboring Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines maintains connecting the city to Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga.

Alnor Taxi at the Mall of Alnor, Cotabato City

The city is accessible by land from many parts of Mindanao. Buses, jeepneys and minivans link the city to Midsayap, Koronadal, Lebak, Pagadian, Tacurong, Kidapawan, Marawi, Iligan, General Santos, Davao City and to various points in Maguindanao.

Multicab and tricycle are the usual means of transportation around the city, minimum fare is P7. There are also Taxis roaming around the city and Habal habal. Two taxi operators are currently operating into the city, namely Alnor Taxi and Wow Taxi. [39]

Bus operators:

  1. Mindanao Star daily route to Midsayap, Kabacan, Kidapawan, Digos City and Davao City
  2. Husky Tours daily route to Shariff Aguak, Isulan, Koronadal and General Santos City


Cotabato Light and Power Company Building along Sinsuat Avenue

Power is handled by Cotabato Light and Power Company, a private firm owned by Aboitiz who gets power resources from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. (NGCP). It also operates a bunker fuel-fired stand-by power engines to address emergency situations like power failures, trip-offs and fluctuations.[40]

Metro Cotabato Water District is the main water supplier in the city. It has an active connection of 29,960. It resources are located in Barangay Dimapatoy, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.[41]

Telecommunications are handled by PLDT or Philippine Long Distance Company, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and Sun Cellular. Internet service providers in the city are PLDT, Smart, and Globe. Cable services are being handled by local-based Cotabato Cable[42] and national-based Cignal[43] and Sky Cable.

Hospitals and medical facilities[edit]

United Doctors Hospital Cotabato along Notre Dame Avenue
Cotabato Regional and Medical Center

The city has one (1) government hospital and six (6) private hospitals. Below is the list of current operating hospitals in the city.

  • Cotabato Regional and Medical Center – Sinsuat Avenue.
  • Notre Dame Hospital – Sinsuat Avenue
  • Cotabato Medical Specialist Hospital – Quezon Avenue
  • United Doctors Hospital of Cotabato City – Notre Dame Avenue
  • Dr. P. Ocampo Hospital – De Mazenod Avenue
  • Cotabato Doctors Clinic and Hospital – Sinsuat Avenue
  • Cotabato Puericulture Center and General Hospital Foundation, Inc. – Jose Lim Sr. St.
  • Cotabato Polymedic and Diagnostic Center - Governor Gutierez Avenue


Cariño Building, Notre Dame University.

There are (1) public and (17) private educational institutions in the city, having a total of 14,228 enrollees for Higher Education (Colleges and Universities) in School Year 2017-2018.

Universities and colleges:

  • Notre Dame University
  • Cotabato State University formerly Cotabato City State Polytechnic College
  • STI Cotabato
  • St. Benedict College of Cotabato
  • Notre Dame – RVM College of Cotabato
  • AMA Computer College
  • Coland Systems Technology
  • Headstart College of Cotabato
  • A.R Pacheco College
  • Notre Dame Hospital and School of Midwifery
  • Doctor P. Ocampo College
  • Dela Vida College
  • Computer Aided Design and Information Technology Institute, Inc. (CAD.It)
  • Jamiat Cotabato - Cotabato City University
  • Academia De Technologia in Mindanao
  • Mindanao Capitols Colleges
  • Shariff Kabunsuan College, Inc.
  • Kutawato Darusallam College


Radio stations[edit]

FM Stations

  1. DXYC “Brigada News FM” 89.3Mhz
  2. DXWD “iFM” 90.9Mhz
  3. DXOL “Happy FM” 92.7Mhz
  4. DXFD “Star FM” 93.7Mhz
  5. DXPS “MOR For Life!” 95.1Mhz
  6. DXTC “Hot FM” 95.9Mhz
  7. DXJC “Voice FM” 99.0Mhz
  8. DXJN “Radyo Bandera” 105.3 Mhz

AM Stations

  1. DXCH “DZRH” 567 kHz
  2. DXMY “RMN Cotabato” 729 kHz
  3. DXMS “Radyo Bida Cotabato” 882 kHz
  4. DYHL “Aksyon Radyo Cotabato” 999 kHz

Free TV stations and local programs[edit]

  1. ABS-CBN Channel 5 Cotabato – TV Patrol South Central Mindanao and Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao
  2. GMA Channel 12 Cotabato
  3. ABS-CBN Sports and Action Channel 23 Cotabato
  4. GMA News TV Channel 27 Cotabato
  5. PTV Channel 8 Cotabato

News Papers[edit]

Cotabato City has two newspapers, which are Mindanao Cross owned by Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation[44] and Luwaran, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front official news magazine.[45]

Notable People in Cotabato City[edit]

  • Orlando Quevedo - Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop of Cotabato
  • Sheriff Abas - The first Cotabateño to be a COMELEC Chairman
  • Yacobnor Enca - topped the Philippine National Police Academy “Masidlak” Class of 2017

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Cotabato City Marker in City Hall

Cotabato City is twinned with:




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