The title alone will drop eyebrows down, and more so, for people who had lived in Cotabato City for quite some time. I had settled my family there from 1987 to 2009 or in a span of 22 years. After that long span of years seeing the city seemed stuck with time, I decided to relocate my family somewhere, not really due to fear for our lives but for greener pasture. I am so thankful to God that we’ve never been into any trouble with anyone there. We are very friendly (I believe), and so despite the almost everyday killings years back, we were spared by the bullets.
People seemed so used to the killings before that it has come to a point where what is considered normal is that at least there is somebody killed in a day or two. And people seemed to poke joke on it that way.
Now I came across with this article with a slightly different title from an online news media. At first I didn’t know how to react to it. And so I should read to know if it was truth or joke. After reading the article, I realized that there is some iota of truth in it, and for Cotabato City, I must add that there is still much to be done about its peace and order situation before it can truly be a tourist destination. As always, any tourist would look for at least two perks in a place – enjoyment and security.
There is no doubt that Cotabato City offers a lot for tourism but tourists must feel secure first and foremost. Consider these amenities of nature: the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque in Tamontaka or the Grand Mosque for short; the City is criss-crossed by creeks and rivers and so it is often referred to as the ‘Venice’ of the Philippines; the old City Hall building and plaza; the city wharf, the Kutawato Cave touted as the only cave in the country located in the heart of a city; Tamontaka Grotto; the Barter Trade Center where one can buy Maranao-made souvenir items and malong – a handwoven craft used as skirt or simply as home decors, and many more. Not to be sidelined is the GINAKIT (fluvial parade) that is already a known tourist attraction every celebration of Shariff Kabunsuan day in December.
With more deliberate improvements and/or make-over for these tourist facilities and attractions plus sustained peace and security situation, Cotabato City maybe able to change its image overnight.