A Trip to the Twelfth

Philippines

One of my all-time favorite trips was to Region 12, also known as Soccsksargen. It’s a region in Mindanao island composed of four provinces and one city: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City. My friends and I spent about a week exploring the locale; and we encountered beautiful sights of natural wonders, architectural gems, and everyday cultural practices. Cameras ready!

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johnaustria

Updated 14 days ago

Editor's Pick

John’s recommendations make us want to rush to Mindanao! Consider this your next solo travel destination!

Lake Sebu

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Koronadal, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Lake Sebu is a marvelous natural lake in a municipality of the same name in South Cotabato. It’s primarily used for aquaculture; and is even home to some of the freshest tilapia in the country! Take a canoe out to the pool of water lilies nearby for picturesque snaps. In the morning, the area is often enveloped by fog so make an early trip to add a bit of drama to your photos!

  • South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines

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T'Boli Trade and Crafts

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Koronadal, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Nicknamed “Land of the Dream Weavers,” Lake Sebu is famous for the T’nalak weaving tradition of the local T’boli tribe. Drop by T’boli Trade and Crafts to grab a few pieces of intricately woven cloth as a souvenir! Go ahead and ask the staff any questions you may have about the cultural practice; and they may even show you how it’s made.

  • Sitio Tukolefa Road, Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines

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Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque (Grand Mosque of Cotabato)

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Cotabato, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Cotabato, is the Philippines’ largest mosque. Funded by the Sultan of Brunei, the magnificent structure features white and gold-colored domes adorned by crescent moons. To enter, you must wear a traditional Muslim outfit. Remember to maintain proper decorum while you appreciate the art and architecture within!

  • Tamontaka Bubong Road, Cotabato City, Maguindanao, Philippines

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Asik-Asik Falls

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Budta, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Hike up and down the stairs towards Asik-Asik Falls to behold a breathtaking ravine covered in lush greenery and cascading water. It’s a mystery as to where the water comes from, but many suspect it’s from a spring that’s covered by foliage above. It takes three to four hours from Cotabato City to Asik-Asik Falls, plus it requires a few different forms of transportation. My tip is to have a local to guide you around; but you can definitely DIY (do-it-yourself) it—just don’t be afraid to ask for help from the natives, especially when you need directions!

  • Sitio Dulao of Barangay Upper Dado, Alamada, North Cotabato, Philippines

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General Santos City Fish Port Complex

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General Santos, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Dubbed as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” General Santos City is home to its very own Fish Port Complex. Here, hundreds of sashimi-grade tuna are caught, processed, and distributed. Visit the giant facility early in the morning to capture the fishermen’s daily activities, including carriers transporting giant tuna from boats and merchants trading fish on the sale floor. You’ll need permission to access the compound, so contact the proper authorities before you make a trip. There are also strict rules that apply (e.g. you must wear pants), so make sure you’ve ticked everything off!

  • Barangay Tambler, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Philippines

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Gumasa Beach

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General Santos, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Also called the “Boracay of the South,” Gumasa Beach is a six-kilometer stretch of powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters in Glan, “The Summer Capital of Sarangani.” Most of the year, the beach is a quiet paradise with uncrowded shores—perfect for taking wanderlusty photos! However, during the Sarangani Bay (or “Sarbay”) Festival during the summer, the area transforms into a hub of festive activities!

  • Glan, Sarangani Province, Philippines

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Fikong Akil (Cabnot Falls)

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General Santos, Philippines • Recommendation • 

Cabnot Falls (or “Fikong Akil” to locals) is an untouched waterfall system in a secluded district in Glan, Sarangani. Traverse a serene forest with locals to reach the hidden gem. It’s a fairly easy trek for non-hikers; some of the local elders and children may even accompany you to the top! There are two more falls nearby, which are easily accessible from the first one. Take a dip in each one and bask in nature’s glory. Oh, and don’t forget to take lots of snaps!

  • Glan, Sarangani Province, Philippines

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About Philippines

The 7,107 islands of the Pearl of the Orient Seas boast of cultures, language, sounds, and sights that are as lively as its people

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