Cotabato City

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Independent Component City
City of Cotabato
Cotabato City Hall
Cotabato City Hall
Official seal of Cotabato
Nickname(s): Stone Fortress of Mindanao
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
Country Philippines
Region Soccsksargen (Region XII)
Province Maguindanao (geographically only)
District 1st District of Maguindanao
During Manobo Period 13th Century
Founded as capital of Maguindanao Sultanate 1520
Founding of Pueblo de Cotabato 1862
Cityhood June 20, 1959
Founded by Apo Mamalu and Apo Tabunaway
Barangays 37
 • Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (NPC)
 • Total 176.00 km2 (67.95 sq mi)
Population (2015 census)[2]
 • Total 299,438
 • Density 1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP code 9600
IDD:area code +63 (0)64
Income class 3rd city income class
PSGC 129804000
Electorate 103,530 voters as of 2016

Cotabato City, officially the City of Cotabato (Malay: Kota Batu; Maguindanaoan: Kuta Wato; Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Cotabato; Hiligaynon: Dakbanwa/Syudad sang Cotabato; Filipino: Lungsod ng Cotabato; Spanish: Ciudad de Cotabato), is a city in the Philippines located in Mindanao, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 299,438.[2]

Although Cotabato City is the regional center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but 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.

Cotabato City is distinct from and should not be confused with the province of Cotabato.


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

The name Cotabato was derived from the Maguindanao word kuta wato and the Malay Bruneian word of Kota Batu, or City of Stone; kota mean city or fortress, and batu mean rock or stone.

Cotabato City had witnessed more history than any other place in Mindanao. Its history dates back to the 15th century when Shariff Kabunsuan, a Johore-born missionary of Malay and Arab descent, landed along the banks of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and introduced Islam to the natives. Islam was the faith that moved the early settlers to communal life, and to establish the Sultanate of Maguindanao with its golden age ushered in by Sultan Dipatuan Qudarat during the 17th century the time when Cotabato City developed as the capital town of Maguindanao.

In the nineteenth century, when Sultan Makakua ruled, roads and wharfs were constructed which gave rise to the birth of modern-day Cotabato. However, the then Municipality of Cotabato was first organized at the later part of the 19th century when the Spaniards established a military post at what is now Barangay Tamontaka, one of the earliest Christian settlements founded south of the Philippines. The Spaniards already took with them, the Chavacanos and Chavacano-speaking Muslims (from Zamboanga City and Isabela, Basilan) and Visayans (mainly Cebuanos and Ilonggos). Chavacano speakers being brought by Spaniards are the reason of the existing Chavacano dialect in Cotabato City called Cotabateño, which evolved from Zamboangueño. Cotabato was then officially founded in 1862 when the Pueblo de Cotabato was established; Christianity was introduced in the area in around the year 1870.

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.[3]: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, known as the Grand Old Man of Cotabato, as its first governor.

Several towns were carved off from Cotabato town beginning in the year 1936, with Dulawan (now Datu Piang, Maguindanao) and Midsayap being the first ones which were incorporated as regular municipalities.

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.

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 towns in 1936. 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.

On July 1, 1950, the then Municipality of Cotabato was made first class municipality under Executive Order No. 466. Nine years later, it became a city on July 10, 1959, and on June 20, 1959 it was officially created into a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 2364.

During the beginning of the 1950s up to the mid-1970s, Cotabato City was by far the second largest and most progressive city in Mindanao, after Davao City, with its population of more than 200,000 people residing in the city that time. However, mass insurgencies and much disorder between Christians and local Muslims in the region, began in the mid-1960 during the Marcos administration, capitulated into the city's economic decline, so the provincial government moved its provisional capital to Pagalungan in 1967 to avoid internal strife in the city. This made the city mostly isolated to other important economic centers in Mindanao.

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.


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.[4]


Cotabato City is politically subdivided into 37 barangays.

  • 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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32
Average low °C (°F) 21
Average precipitation mm (inches) 60


Downtown Cotabato City
Population census of Cotabato City
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1990 127,065 —    
1995 146,779 +2.74%
2000 163,849 +2.39%
2007 259,153 +6.53%
2010 271,786 +1.75%
2015 299,438 +1.86%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[2][6][7]

The majority of the inhabitants of Cotabato City are Maguindanaoan, comprising about 66% of the city's population. There are sizable ethnic populations of Maranaos (8%), Tagalog (9%), Cebuano (8%) and Ilonggo (6%). The remainder of the population belongs to other ethnicities (e.g. Iranon, Binisaya, Tausug, Chavacano).

The main language is Maguindanao. Other languages spoken in Cotabato City are Cebuano, Ilonggo and Chavacano, spoken by both Christians and Muslims as well as Tagalog, Maranao, English and Arabic. The dialect evolved from Chavacano native to Cotabato City is called Cotabateño.


Today, the majority of the city's population is Muslim, comprising about 80% of the population. The majority of Muslims in Cotabato City are Sunnites. The majority of Christians in Cotabato City are Roman Catholics, most of whom are Cebuanos, Ilonggos and Chavacanos. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cotabato is headed by Orlando Cardinal Quivedo.


Cotabato City, historically, during its heyday as the capital of the Maguindanao Sultanate, has been the most economically prosperous city in the island of Mindanao. Its prosperity has been taken away by civil internal strife beginning in the 1970s. However, once it became part of Soccsksargen region in the 1990s, its economy began a radical economic recovery.

As of now, the city currently serves as the center for economic support activities, trade and finance, education and other support services such as social, physical, cultural and other basic services of Central Mindanao. It is now struggling to gain its lost glory.


Landmark and parks[edit]

Rio Grande de Mindanao at Cotabato City
  • Rio Grande de Mindanao: The second largest river in the Philippines and the longest in Mindanao crisscrossing, with its tributary, the city's vast area. Estimated to be 182 kilometers long and 96 meters wide. Water sports and boat racing are the popular attractions of the river, usually held to coincide with the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival and the Feast of Hariraya Puasa. It is known among the locals by its original pre-Hispanic name, the Pulangi River.
  • Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid: The grandeur of the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (Muslim center of worship), which reportedly costs $48 million, dominates the landscape of Barangay Kalanganan. Its minarets measure 43 meters (141 feet) high on top of which are pilot's lights to avoid aerial accidents at night. The height is equivalent to a 15-storey building. Crescent moons adorn the domes painted in gold. The mosque can accommodate 800 male and 400 female worshippers, A fountain will be among the main features of the courtyard.
Church of the Immaculate Conception of Tamontaka
  • 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.
  • Immaculada Concepcion Cathedral: It is the Central Mindanao center of Catholic Preaching. With the Huge Bell Tower and state of the art Building houses the Archdioces of Cotabato.
  • Lourdes Grotto: A replica of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in France. The compound is equipped with a retreat house for recollection and seminars, a mini zoo and a children's park which opens only every Sunday.
  • Kutawato Caves: The only caves in the country that is right in the heart of the city are the Kutawato Caves. Its various entrances; all within traffic is a rarity that can only be had in the "Heart of Mindanao – Cotabato City". These caves were also the source of the city's present name for "kuta" means fort and "wato" means stone, hence the name fort of stone, which later became cotabato. Kutawato caves with its walls of white, beige and brownish shade glitters in the dark and echoes a colorful past dating back to the days when no foreign foot yet trampled upon this island. This caves had given sanctuary to the natives when the Spaniards tried to convert them into the castillan faith and has thus served the purposed when Filipino guerillas fought the invading force of the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. When the Japanese firepower proved superior to that of the natives, the caves then used as an armory and even as a garrison. Within its confines, tortured and oppressed souls that thirst for freedom and democracy echoed their faint moans and cries

that were buried in its bosoms, muted for over half a century. Formally re-opened and blessed on September 19, 1996, the outwait caves of Cotabato city has once again reverberated the voices of the Cotabateños; this time however, in a peacefully happy tone. Located at the foot of the "Tantawan" or P.C. hill, the cave is reputed to be seven kilometers long and of formidable, solid rock. Having four major entrances, each gaping mouth offers unique experience to its visitors.

  • Old Cotabato City Hall: A century old structure which houses Marines Camp but soon to be a City Museum. It showcases the architectural design of the Maguindanaon Art.
  • Old Provincial Capitol: An early American architecture, it was the seat of then Empire Province of Cotabato. It houses now by the reserved Military Soldiers.
  • People's Palace: A majestic 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.
  • Parac Basketball Court (U/C open in 2017) : in events and entitled of the place in Kimpo nearly barangay history year 1993 before formerly Mayor Luvidico Badoy in year 1996 was elected begin to other City Mayors be soon now Barangay Hall of the property entitled

begin lanuched in 1999 and 2000

ARMM Regional Building
  • ORC Complex: The regional seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao 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.
  • Takumi Butai Memorial Shrine: A monument in honor of Takumi Butai and the Japanese soldiers who died here during the Second World War. Takumi was the Provincial Commander of the Japanese forces assigned in Cotabato City. Before he died, he requested that some of his ashes be buried in Cotabato City. This shrine was put up by the Lion's Club of Kyoto, Japan in cooperation with the City Government of Cotabato.
  • 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): A stone fort towering over the city with a height of 90 feet, now houses the Cotabato city Internal Defense Command. This is Cotabato City's famous landmark, this historic hill served as a watch tower for the natives in their defense drive to detect and repel assaults by enemies. From this hill, one can have a panoramic view of the city, its surrounding areas, and the Rio Grande de Mindanao.
  • Timaco Hill: Overlooking the Illana Bay, it is protected by Bongo Island. The place is a good resort with bluegreen waters, sandy white beach, lake and cave, wooded park and a river, is ideal for camping, skin diving, snorkeling, boating, fishing and other water sports. It likewise offer nature lovers and ideal place for trekking, bird and white monkey watching and other lesure activities. The cultural village which will be set at the foot of the hill is a typical Maguindanao village where people practice the traditional crafts such as brassmaking, malong weaving, mat and basket weaving, boat building and bamboo crafts. It is also a sanctuary for oral and written traditions of the people including lores, legends, dances, songs, rituals and other metaphysical culture of the tribe.
  • Metal and Brass Foundry: Located in Brgy. MB Kalanganan, Cotabato City, this traditional working foundry manufactures brassware such as kulintang gongs, traditional Muslim jars, and decorative souvenir items. As the oldest and the only remaining brassware maker in Cotabato City, operated by the Mang family, it is the primary source of kulintang (traditional gong) instruments in the region. The foundry has a showroom located in downtown Cotabato City.
  • Inaul Weaving Center: Located just outside Cotabato City (across the bridge, take the first road to the left), in Tamontaka, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao province. Established by H. Bai Aleizzah Albaya B. Wampa, the center is a Peace Project which employs women weavers, and concentrates on non-traditional floor-loom weaving of synthetic threads in traditional designs. The workshop displays examples of local weaving and patchwork, including a number of vintage pieces.
  • Barter Trade Center: This marketplace in the south side of town caters to tourists and locals alike, and features different native goods, accessories and souvenir items.
  • South Seas Mall: Cotabato City's first mall, a family-owned business serving the consumer needs of Cotabato City and its outlying municipalities. The business started in the early 1950s, when 2 families (originally from the Sulu / Tawi-Tawi province and from Cebu City) formed the Cotabato South Seas Trading Company.


  • Araw ng Kutabato (June 12–25): It is the biggest celebration in all of the city’s festivals. It commemorates the city’s charter anniversary. Officially commencing on Independence Day (June 12), the two weeks of merry making is dotted with events like agri-aqua product showcase, exhibits of photographs and artworks, sports and traditional games and other modern day athletics. Capping the celebration is the selection of the city’s fairest maiden in the Search for the Mutya ng Kutabato and the mammoth civic/military and cultural dance parade dubbed as the Lilang-lilang Festival".
  • Our Lady of Peñafrancia Fiesta (3rd Sunday of September): Celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, it is preceded with a Holy mass and procession from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral to a waiting landing craft (barge) decked with colorful buntings, banana trunks, flowers and a brass band for its traditional fluvial procession at the Rio Grande to watch or join the procession in fulfillment of a vow, hosted by the Bicolano Association of Cotabato City. This annual event is a replica of the same event in Naga City.
  • Immaculate Conception Fiesta (December 8): The patroness of Cotabato City, the feast of the Immaculate Conception is held from the first day of December and it is marked by a trade fair, musical presentations, cultural presentations, drums and bugle corps contest and the nightly novena mass in honor of the patroness.* Shariff Kabunsuan Festival (December 15–19): Celebrated in honor of Shariff Mohammad Kabunsuan, an Arab missionary from Johore who planted the seed of Islam in Central Mindanao. With his arrival came the Sultanate form of government and Royal houses, the Madrasa system of education, trade, commerce, to name a few. On this event, dances, traditional games and sports are the regular activities. Highlights include a Dance Parade, Banca Race and the re-enactment of his arrival.



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

Sister cities[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Cities". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Region XII (Soccsksargen)". Census of Population (2015): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Foreman, J., 1906, The Philippine Islands: A Political, Geographical, Ethnographical, Social and Commercial History of the Philippine Archipelago, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  4. ^ Disaster Preparedness of Schools by Abdul Raffi A. Abas
  5. ^ "Historical Weather for Cotabato, Soccsksargen, Philippines". Retrieved 2011-08-15. 
  6. ^ "Region XII (Soccsksargen)". Census of Population and Housing (2010): Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay (Report). NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  7. ^ "Region XII (Soccsksargen)". Census of Population (1995, 2000 and 2007): Total Population by Province, City and Municipality (Report). NSO. Archived from the original on 24 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "Cotabato City in Sisterhood with Sultan Kudarat Municipality". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  9. ^ "Malaysian investors in Cotabato City". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  10. ^ "Mindanao LGUs emulate best Indonesian city – The Standard". 2016-08-15. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 

External links[edit]