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Diocese of Kidapawan

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Diocese of Kidapawan
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In a land area of 724,189.19 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers 11 towns of the Province of Cotabato, 3 towns of the Province of Maguindanao, and 1 town of the Province of Sultan Kudarat.

The following cities, districts or regions are covered by the diocese: Magpet, Apo Sandawa, Makilala, Bulakanon, Kidapawan City, Carmen, Amas, Matalam, Kabacan, Tulunan, New Rizal, Columbio, Mlang, Arakan, Roxas, Antipas, New Cebu.

The province of North Cotabato lies on the eastern part of the Region XII and is strategically located in the central part of Mindanao. It is bounded on the north by the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon, on the east by Davao City, on the southwest by Davao del Sur, on the west by Maguindanao Province and on the southwest by Sultan Kudarat Province.

The Province of (North) Cotabato lies on the eastern part of Region XII and is strategically located in the central part of Mindanao. It is bounded on the North by the Province of Bukidnon, on the northwest by Lanao del Sur, on the East by Davao City, on the Southeast by Davao del Sur, on the West by Maguindanao Province and on the southwest by Sultan Kudarat Province. Mountains to the east peak at Mount Apo, a volcanic cone that is the highest mountain in the Philippines. In the west, the Piapungan Range separates it from Lanao del Sur. The fertile Pulangi River basin runs in the middle of these two highlands and spreads towards the southwest to the flood plains of Maguindanao. Typhoons do not pass through (North) Cotabato and rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year.


As of year end 2016 the total population of Kidapawan diocese is 908,577 of which 58 percent are Catholics or a number of 526,975.

More than half of the household population in North Cotabato were dominated by Roman Catholics comprising 547,895 or 57.23 percent. Others were 19.68 percent, Islam believers, 7.27 percent Evangelicals, 2.62 percent members of the Southern Baptist, 2.21 percent Iglesia ni Cristo members, 2.01 percent Aglipayans, and 1.85 percent United Church of Christ in the Philippines members. About 6.82 percent were from other religious affiliations that included Protestant, Seventh Day Adventist, or other religions.

Cotabato was inhabited by various ethnic groups namely: the Manobos, the Bagobos and the Muslims sometime in 1500 A.D. These various tribes are believed to be descendants of Indonesian immigrants owing to their similarity in physical structure and language.


Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano, Boholano, and Manobo are spoken. English is widely understood and spoken.

Of the 957,294 households population in (North) Cotabato, 31.68 percent classified themselves as Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, 22.64 percent as Cebuano, 17.75 percent as Maguindanaon, 6.88 percent as Ilocano, 4.70 percent as Karay-a, 4.37 percent as Manobo/Ata-Manobo, and 3.60 percent as Boholano. About 7.71 percent considered themselves as belonging to other ethnic groups.

English is considered as the medium of instruction in schools and other learning institutions. English predominantly used in major government agencies in their transactions and reports. Laws and ordinances in the city are all written in English.


Before the coming of the Christian migrants from Luzon and the Visayas which had accelerated the growth of settlements and subsequently gave rise to bustling municipalities, this area named Cotabato was inhabited by various ethnic groups namely: the Manobos, the Bagobos and the Muslims sometime in 1500 A.D. These various tribes are believed to be descendants of Indonesian immigrants owing to their similarity in physical structure and language. According to a Manobo creation myth, the fertile flood plain between the Kulaman and the Pulangi Rivers was the birthplace of life on earth. Soil stolen from another world was deposited in this place, which they refer to as pinamua or "land of the beginning".

When the Maguindanao Sultan acceded to Spanish sovereignty in 1861, the colonial government organized several districts to cover the vast plain of the Pulangi. Those who resisted the Spaniards fled towards the interior, to Pagalungan and continued resisting Spanish intrusion into the region. The district of Cotabato was formed in 1860. In 1871, the district covered the military areas of Polloc, Malabang, Reina Regente, Taceran, Babia, Illana, Baras and Lebac. What is presently Cotabato remained outside the area of Spanish activities.

The area covered by the empire Province of Cotabato is the territory presently occupied by the provinces of Cotabato (the mother province), South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat, including the area now covered by General Santos and Cotabato Cities. "Cotabato" comes from the Maguindanao "Kuta Wato", or "Stone Fort", and bespeaks of the long tradition of courage and resistance that marks the history of the Pulangi River basin. Its capital was then Cotabato (now a city, a town along the Rio Grande some five kilometers from where said river empties into the sea on the west).

The total land area of the original Cotabato before its division was 2,296,791 hectares or about one thirteenth of the whole country which has an area of about 30 million hectares. So big was the original province that its area was about the size of the central plain of Luzon and bigger than six states in the United States, including the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The total land area of the Hawaiian Islands (now a U.S. state) is only about three-fourths that of Cotabato.

The effectivity of the operation of the original province of Cotabato was on Sept. 1, 1914. The date when the creation of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu took effect pursuant to the Philippine Commission Act No. 2408 dated July 23, 1914, an Act providing for a temporary form of government for the territory known as the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, making applicable thereto, with certain exceptions the provisions of general laws now in force in the Philippine Island, and for other purposes.

Before the passage of the above-mentioned Act by the Philippine Commission, Cotabato was never called a province. It was just categorized as a mere district of the Moro Province. The Moro Province was composed of all the political subdivisions of Mindanao and Sulu, excluding the two Misamis Provinces and Surigao. The huge province (Moro province) was created by the Philippine Commission on July 15, 1903 in Act No. 787 and probably because no Filipino had any knowledge of surveying at the time, the territorial jurisdiction of the Cotabato District was roughly described, wanting in definiteness and usually giving rise to boundary conflicts with neighboring provinces.

The Moro province was governed by military governors, the last being General John J. Pershing, who was succeeded in December 1913 by the first civilian governor, Frank W. Carpenter. The early Filipinos were pagans - worshippers of the sun, the moon and some animals like Kalupindo (Parrot). Mohammedanism or Islam was the first "imported" religion in Cotabato. It was first introduced in the later part of the 15th century by Shariff Kabunsuan, a legendary Muslim missionary who later ruled Cotabato with his descendants and established the Sultanate of Mindanao.

Shariff Kabunsuan and his descendants ruled Cotabato until the coming of the Americans in the early part of the twentieth century. One important feature established by the reign of Shariff Kabunsuan was the introduction of a system of government called Datuism. The system of government is until today still being practiced by some Mohammedans who revere the datu as the dispenser or lawgiver of death. This system developed Muslim culture and kept Muslim united in their struggles against foreigners.

The northern part of Cotabato particularly along the boundaries of Davao and Bukidnon was relatively unaffected during the emergence of Mohammedanism in the province. The reason was that, as mentioned earlier, some of the datus had settled at the foot of Mt. Apo and inland transportation was still difficult during those days so that the only convenient way was thru the river. Even then, the tribes who occupied the highlands, along the Pulangi river, which extends up to the province of Bukidnon were not converted to Mohammedanism. When the Muslim converts and missionaries migrated further north thru the river, the Malayan highlanders just went upward to the foot of Mt. Apo in different groups, which then developed into different ethnic groups.

The influx of Spanish "conquistadores" also did not affect the northern part of the province. The Spaniards came to subdue the "Moros" or Muslim pirates who attacked several islands of the Visayas and Luzon, at the turn of the 17th century. To prevent the further penetration of Muslim pirates, a fort was established at Tamontaka.

The Spaniards arrived in Cotabato way back in 1696 when Captain Rodriguez de Figueroa obtained from the Spanish government the exclusive right to colonize Mindanao. On Feb. 1, 1596, he left Iloilo and landed at the mouth of Rio Grande de Mindanao, in what is known today as Cotabato City. With Cotabato as the base, the Spanish "conquistadores" attempted to enter the interior region following the Rio Grande and reached as far as Pikit to protect the Spaniards from continuous harassment from the Mohammedans. Today, the Spanish Fort in Pikit still stands as the only relic of Spanish colonial power in the province.

The American forces arrived in the early part of the twentieth century. The Mohammedans under Datu Alamada and Datu Ali put up a very strong resistance in Midsayap, which hastened the coming of General Leonard Wood, then Military Governor, to personally lead the assault on the stronghold. But with the capture of the fortress in Midsayap, the Mohammedans engaged the military forces in guerilla warfare.

One important thing that the Americans did which caused a great impact in the province was their policy of attraction. This policy was aimed at convincing the Muslims of the sincerity of the American rule in the country. It was also aimed at restoring peace and order and implanting political advancement and training in the art of self-government.

Though Islam was the first religion, Christianity also was introduced later in 1596.

The first Christian settlers in Cotabato from outside of Mindanao-mostly came from the Province of Cebu and arrived in Pikit on June 17, 1913 at the behest and as a result of the efforts of the late Pres. Sergio Osmeña who was then Speaker of the Philippine Commission. Expenses of their transfer to the "land of promise" were subsidized by the government. The Administrator of the "Colono" (name given to the settlers at that time) was a Superintendent by the name Maximo Abad, a government-appointed official, who took care of the settlers' needs, like food, farm implements, etc. There were six more batches of "colonos" that arrived after June 17, 1913. From Pikit, children and kin of settlers later moved westwards to Midsayap and eastward to Kidapawan.

Other settlements were organized later in General Santos, Marbel, Kiamba, Tupi, Banga and neighboring places. Most of the settlers came from Luzon and were better attended to by the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA) and the Land Settlement Development Corporation (LASEDECO). Succeeding entry of enterprising Visayans and Luzonians came later at their own volition and expenses.

It was not always all smiles and happiness for the people of Cotabato. The years between 1941 and 1945 were unhappy years. Cotabato was not spared the ravages of war. Atrocities and destruction of the Japanese Imperial Forces was experienced by almost every Filipino. The second World War was a black chapter in our history but development albeit slow-paced, and the normal functions of government resumed after we were liberated by the American Forces led by General Douglas McArthur.

The biggest province in the country (Cotabato) had only one municipality when it was created a province on Sept. 1, 1914: Cotabato Municipality, its capital, which became a city in 1959. Before the outbreak of World War II on Dec. 7, 1941, Cotabato province had only three (3) municipalities: Cotabato, Dulawan (later named Datu Piang, in honor of Amai Mingka, the father of Governor Ugalingan Piang and Congressman Gumbay Piang) and Midsayap. The latter two were simultaneously created on Nov. 25, 1936.

While the original Cotabato had an area of some 2,299,791 hectares, the present Cotabato territory covers only 731,102 hectares or a bit more than one-fourth of the size of the Original Cotabato.

The original Cotabato first experienced its first "slicing" or reduction of size in 1966 when South Cotabato was separated from the empire province. The first "slice" (South Cotabato) before belongs to Region XI. After the reduction, the reduced empire province still had 34 municipalities left, one of which (Carmen was bigger than the Province of Tarlac.

Our remaining province, after the separation of South Cotabato was effected in 1966, was again divided into three (3) district provinces, namely: North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 341, dated Nov.22, 1973. The Batas Pambansa thereafter renamed North Cotabato to just Cotabato in BP No. 660 on Dec. 19, 1983, striking off the word "North."

The province became part of an autonomous government for Region XII following the Tripoli Agreement of 1976. In 1989, following a plebiscite to determine the extent of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the province declined inclusion.

The province, therefore, by virtue of the foregoing, is the mother province of the provinces originally belonging to the original Cotabato including South Cotabato, which was the first to be "sliced" there from.

The province is bounded on the North by the Province of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon, on the East by Davao del Sur, on the Southwest by Sultan Kudarat and on the West by Maguindanao province.

The opening of the National Highway from Cotabato to Davao and Cotabato to Bukidnon brought government attention to the need of immediately utilizing unopened lands for organized settlement. This was the time when settlers coming from Luzon and Visayas streamed into the province opening new vistas for agricultural lands including mountains. And as elsewhere the formed communities patterned after those in the old home. Thus barangay today predominantly occupied by Ilongos, Cebuanos, Ilocanos and Tagalogs are named after those names that were prevailing in the old homes.

When the 2nd World War came, in other places, especially in Luzon and Visayas, it meant evacuation and stoppage of all activities, especially farming which was the main economic activity of the population. This was not true in some municipalities that comprised the province. In Kidapawan, for instance, the war brought more people as evacuees from Davao which was then occupied by the Japanese came to settle thereat.

Thus, the pioneering settlers in the hinterlands of Cotabato were far luckier than their brothers in Luzon and Visayas since farming activities were not totally hampered by the outbreak of hostilities. Instead, some crops like abaca were introduced by evacuees coming from Davao because the volcanic soil of Kidapawan was suited to this plant.

With liberation, more people poured in and new communities were opened serving as the nuclei of the present 17 municipalities and 1 city comprising the province.

In some parts of the province, 1950 was a year of depression due to rodent infestation that plagued the province. Destitute settlers, especially in the towns of Pigcawayan, Midsayap, Libungan, Mlang and Kabacan who saw their crops ravaged by rats in one night and the fruit of their labor gone to waste, gave up and returned to their old homes in Luzon and Visayas.

Most of the settlers however preserved some of their crops and timely government assistance minimized the danger posed by the infestation. In spite of those bleak years, the people of Kidapawan, mostly small landowners, enjoyed a bonanza from the high price of abaca fibers. So great was the prosperity of Kidapawan that in due time many professionals, mostly lawyers, doctors, nurses and agents of all sorts arrived in the place and settled permanently.

This period also ushered in big investments for the province by wealthy entrepreneurs from elsewhere in the country. Seeing the progress and potentials of the area, especially in rich volcanic soil of Kidapawan and Makilala, they began to acquire large tracts of land and developed them thru mechanized farming. Thus, today stands the Pamintuan Development Corporation Rubber Plantation, the Overseas Agricultural Development Corporation and other several big industries. Some investors tapped other potentials that the province possessed. Its economic development was lagging far behind the provinces in Luzon and Visayas. There were hardly any significant infrastructure projects and utilities until 1966 when then President Ferdinand E. Marcos undertook a massive infrastructure program in the areas of Mindanao.

The concreting of Digos-Cotabato Road was completed. Several farm-to-market roads, barangay roads and bridges were constructed and several municipal buildings were completed. Artesian wells were installed in the different barangays of the province. In addition, the Kabacan River Irrigation Project, the M’lang Irrigation Project and numerous communal irrigation projects capable of irrigating 50,000 hectares were constructed.

The steady pace of development was interrupted when the province became a battleground of Muslim secessionists. The Muslim Independence Movement agitated for the independence of Mindanao. As a result, several homes were razed, millions of pesos worth of properties were destroyed, towns and barrios were deserted and hundreds of innocent civilian lives were lost.

It was this time that President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972 and the arrival of government reinforcements reversed the turn of events. Military forces under the Central Mindanao Command (CEMCOM) led by General Fortunato U. Abat gradually recovered the places captured by the rebel groups and restored peace as these lawless elements were one by one convinced to return to the folds of the law.

Numerous government programs were implemented with the aim of returning the evacuees to their residences. Foremost of these was the SPARE Program. Assistance and aid flowed to the province thru the Social Welfare Administration, now the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Red Cross and other agencies.

Since the original Cotabato was formally created as a Province on Sept. 1, 1914, the governors of Cotabato before that date could not be called "Provincial Governors." Before 1914 (1899-1913) our District Governors were all American Military Governors, all belonging to the Philippine Constabulary and all with the rank of major, except Don Ramon Vilo who ruled this area in 1898. As a province, Cotabato had its first Civil Governor in 1941.

The origin of the Diocese of Kidapawan goes back to the first Jesuit missionaries who introduced Christianity in Mindanao in the late 7th century.

The Prelature of Kidapawan was erected on June 12, 1976. Bishop Federico O. Escaler, SJ, was elected first prelate ordinary and took over the prelature on Sept. 6, 1976. In 1980, Bishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, was elected bishop-prelate, and ordained on Oct. 28, 1980 at the Cathedral of Kidapawan, North Cotabato. On Nov. 15, 1982 the Prelature of Kidapawan was elevated to a diocese. Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos was appointed diocesan bishop on Feb. 3, 1987.

Mindanao was generally peaceful at the time the first settlers from Visayas and Luzon arrived. Natives and Muslims were friendly to the settlers then. Forests, rivers and wild animals were as yet undisturbed. When the logging companies and the settlers later cleared many areas to open up the rice lands, a few rich settlers began the rubber plantations around Kidapawan. Then land-grabbing became a big issue.

In the early 1970's, the Muslim-Christian conflict erupted. This was branded a religious conflict when in fact it was not. It was actually caused by incidents connected to land-grabbing and to unscrupulous politicians organizing armed groups. Many atrocities were committed and many communities destroyed. When martial law was declared in 1972, the National Democratic Front - NPA again made Mindanao a land of conflict.

It was against this background that the Prelature of Kidapawan was born. This was the term of Bishop Federico Escaler, and he lost no time in convening the First Prelature General Assembly of Kidapawan in 1977. This assembly articulated the prelature's thrust then as Education for Justice.

In 1980, Bishop Escaler was transferred to Ipil and Bishop Orlando Quevedo took over the prelature. This was a period of intense growth of the basic ecclesial units with an orientation for justice. Many BEC's became centers of hope and solidarity in the midst of the armed conflict. Most lay leaders became targets and some were killed. Included in this carnage was Father Tullio Favali, PIME. Every year Favali's death anniversary is celebrated as a Day of the Martyrs in the diocese.

The Formation Programs of the diocese cover the areas of Christian formation, lay leadership, family life, youth, vocational school ministry, and mass media. Service programs focus on tribal Filipinos, justice and peace, community-based health programs and social action.

The Social Action Center of the Diocese of Kidapawan has been institutionalized under the name of GKK-Kidapawan Foundation, Inc. It is the vision of the foundation to contribute to the total development of the people in the diocese, so that they may respond to the people's socio-economic needs, based on limited resources. People's cooperatives are now being established, skills and capabilities developed.


Cotabato was once part of the extensive realm of the Sultan Maguindanao with Manobo settlers as tributaries or subject to the Maguindanao Sultans until the second half of the 10th century when Maguindanao Sultans acceded to Spanish sovereignty in 1861, when the colonial government organized several districts.

Cotabato derives its name from the Maguindanao words kuta wato, meaning "stone fort." The former province of Cotabato was once the largest in the Philippines. In 1966, South Cotabato was created as a separate province. On Nov. 22, 1973, under Presidential Decree No. 341, the provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat were created out of the remaining old Cotabato. North Cotabato was renamed Cotabato under Batas Pambansa Blg. 660 approved on Dec. 19, 1983.

The province is divided into two congressional districts, one component city, 17 municipalities and 544 barangay, with Kidapawan city as its capital.

The provincial government of Cotabato is headed by the Provincial Governor whose Office provides the executive and policy direction, leadership and guidance mong the different agencies and organizations in the public and private sectors.

Different provincial offices of the province are mandated under Republic Act No. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.


The province has a total road length of 4,263.20 kilometres with all its major thoroughfares concreted or asphalt paved. Transportation vehicles such as buses, jeepneys and motorcycles are readily available in the whole province and a good number passing to and from Cotabato City, Cagayan de Oro City, Tacurong City, Kidapawan City and Davao City.

Cotabato province is strategically linked to the major "Arterial Road System traversing and connecting the province to Davao City- SOCSKARGEN- Cotabato Corridor and the Cotabato via Kabacan - Maramag - Kibawe, Bukidnon (Cagayan de Oro/Iligan City Corridor) Sayre Highway.

Local means of transportation is served by motor tricycles known locally as just "motor". Transportations to its barangays and other municipalities are served by Multicabs, Jeepneys, and L300 Vans. Bus serves the Davao City-Cotabato City Route which passes the cities of Digos and Kidapawan. Public Utility Vans also served routes to and from the cities of Davao, Cotabato, Tacurong-Isulan, Koronadal and General Santos.


According to the 2000 Census, the annual per capita income (in Philippines Pesos) of Cotabato is 17,871, as of October 2010 USD409.

Cutflower has become a good source of livelihood among Cotabateños, especially those residing in Kidapawan City, who have organized a cooperative on cutflower marketing and production. Roses, anthuriums, and orchids which are conveniently grown locally are highly promising and profitable businesses and sources of livelihood. Even at large scale production, ornamentals and forest tree seedlings have become a high-selling business.Ramie plantation in Kidapawan can be a future boom to the local textile industry.

Cotabato is primarily an agricultural area (50 pecent of total land area devoted to agri-production) with major crops that include rubber, grains, sugarcane, and exotic fruits like durian, rambutan, mango, banana, lanzones and mangosteen.

Crops abundantly grown in the area include abaca, rubber, corn, rice, coconut, and vegetables.

Of Cotabato's total land area of 656,590 hectares, 149,972 hectares or 22.84 percent are classified as alienable and disposable while the remaining 506,618 hectares or 77.16 percent are forest lands.

Of the total forest lands, 3,825 hectares or 0.76 percent are unclassified public forests while 502,793 hectares or 99.24 percent are classified public forest. Forestlands are preserved for timber production, grazing and marshes, national parks and bird sanctuaries. Forest reserves and timberlands take the biggest share of the total classified forestlands.

Mineral products found in the province consist of non-metallic products defined as limestone, sand and gravel, soil and white clay. The first three items are considered as construction materials while the white clay is a good raw material for porcelain production and considered as one of the best white clay resource in the country. It is abundant in the municipalities of Banisilan, Pres. Roxas, Mlang, Makilala and Magpet particularly in the barangays of Dolis, Inac and Nowa.

The province has several ceramics processing which are either unregistered or registered enterprises. Magpet Ceramics located at Magpet, Cotabato is an LGU-managed enterprise that specializes in the making of pots and jars, table wares, novelties and art wares.


Telecommunication in the province is provided by telegraph services available in every municipality while telephone services are established in areas with close proximity to national roads in almost all areas of the province.

Major private telephone carriers are serving the province such as the PLDT, Bayantel, Smart and Globe, among others. Cellular sites, as well as, Internet service providers and cable TV, are generally present.

There are two TV stations and eight radio stations in North Cotabato.


The province's terrain varies from flat, fertile plains to irregular landscape of wide valleys, scattered hills and extensive mountain ranges such as the Kitubod Range, Mt. Apo which forms the natural boundary between (North) Cotabato Province and Davao City and Davao del Sur Province and the Tuael Range, which joins the municipalities of Pres. Roxas, Magpet and Matalam.

A big portion of the land of North Cotabato province is classified as upland with a topography ranging from level to nearly level to gently sloping to undulating; undulating to rolling; rolling to moderately steep; steep to very steep. Areas with level to nearly level are found in Kabacan, Matalam, Libungan, Carmen, Pikit and parts of Tulunan, M'lang and Midsayap.


The literacy rate (simple literacy) of North Cotabato as of 2000 is 86.69 percent.


The major power source of the Mindanao Grid is the Lanao Lake-Agus River hydro-electric power complex with a total power potential of 1,000 megawatts. Supplementing the hydro-potential power of the Mindanao Grid are the Cotabato and Agusan River Basin. The basins have potential of 1,605 megawatts and 991 megawatts, respectively or an aggregate total of 2,596 megawatts.

In support to the province's growing economy, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) has commissioned the generation of at least 52-megawatt sourced out from the Mt. Apo Geothermal Project. An additional capacity of 50 megawatt from the project is currently worked-out to ensure a stable energy supply for the province and its neighboring areas.

The drainage condition in the province is generally poor with some portions classified as good to fair drainage. These conditions are mostly found along the plains and valleys. In the upland areas the drainage conditions range from good to fair to excessive erosion as a result of massive forest destruction.

Irrigation in the province has a total service area of 29,068.74 hectares covered by the National Irrigation Systems and Communal Irrigation Systems of National Irrigation Administration.


celebration of a Festival which falls annually in the month of August called Timpupo or the fruit festival. This festival first held in 2002 (the 2007 festival was the 6th occurrence of the festival) celebrates the fruit harvest, the city purchases large quantities of local fruit which is laid out on tables along the streets for visitors and residents. Dubbed "Timpupo" from the Manobo word "harvest", the celebration signifies the people's thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and richness of the exotic fruits that thrive in the area. The Timpupo Festival is the best venue to savor the sweet, rich, and healthful banquet of tropical fruits which usually falls during the harvest season - August to October - depending on the ripening of fruits. Activities featured during the annual event include the Fruit Galore, Fruit Float Parade, Fruit Arrangement and Street Dancing Competition. The Foundation Anniversary of the City of Kidapawan (February 12) is celebrated with parades, beauty contests, and traditional non-lethal horse fights.

Manobos of North Cotabato
The Manobo culture has its seat in Kidapawan. Also called Kulaman, this group considers Mt. Apo as sacred. They are concentrated in the mountains north of the Padada River, up through Kidapawan and Magpet.

The Manobos are distinguishable by their traditional dress: tight pants topped by a buttonless jacket for men and are blouse with black sleeves over an abaca skirt for women. As dress reflects rank, decorative motifs are reserved for datus and the well-to-do. Although they mainly practice kaingin (slash and burn) farming and fishing, they also engage in basketmaking, weaving and pottery.

The Manobos have atukon, riddles; panonggelengan, proverbs; panumanon, folktales, fables, and humorous tales; ituan, myths and legends; and owaging, epics. Narrative poems and lyric poems are generally also ritual songs addressed to gods.


Manobo" or "Manuvu" means "person" or "people"; it may also have been originally "Mansuba" from man (person or people) and suba (river), hence meaning "river people." A third derivation is from "Banobo," the name of a creek that presently flows to Pulangi River about 2 km below Cotabato City. A fourth is from "man" meaning "first, aboriginal" and "tuvu" meaning "grow, growth." Manobo" is the hispanized form.

The Manobo belong to the original stock of proto-Philippine or proto-Austronesian people who came from South China thousands of years ago, earlier than the Ifugao and other terrace-building peoples of the northern Luzon. Ethnolinguist Richard Elkins (1966) coined the term "Proto-Manobo" to designate this stock of aboriginal non-Negritoid people of Mindanao.

Manobo music differs from one group to another. The variance can be observed in the gong ensembles, which may consist of 8 to 10 agong (gongs) as in the ahong of Magpet, or five small hand-held gongs as in the sagagong.

The ahong has 10 small knobbed gongs hung vertically on a frame usually in a triangular formation, with the smallest gong near the apex. The gongs are grouped into the kaantuhan, consisting of the higher-pitched gongs, which carry the melody; the gandingan, which are three or four lower-pitched gongs providing a melodic costinato; and the bandil, the lowest-pitched gong, which sets the tempo. The gaantuhan player stands as he/she strikes gongs one to six in repeated melodic patterns, sometimes moving away from the gongs as he/she interjects some dance movements. The gandingan player strikes gongs seven, eight, and nine, and occasionally gong six, while the bandil player is limited to gong ten. Both gandingan and bandil players are sited either crossed-legged or on their heels. The ahong is heard during festive occasions and has in its repertoire pieces entitled "Panihuman" (conversation), "Badbad" (thanksgiving), "Tukubong" (reconciliation), and "Malandoy" (clan reunion).

In the municipalities of President Roxas and Sitio Kabalantian in Magpet, north Cotobato, the tagungguan is a gong set consisting of eight knobbed gongs suspended vertically on a frame. When two people perform on the tagungguan, one provides the basic tempo using gong six or eight, while the other plays the melody on the remaining gongs. Dancing at a agricultural rituals and festive occasion is usually accompanied by an ensemble consisting of the tagungguan, a gibba/gimbae (drum) and a pagakpak (a pair of sticks). Some pieces played on the tagungguan are "Managwaynag sinagkaw" (Crying lady), "Abadti" (Thanksgiving), "Panihuman" (Merry making), "Babang ngat" (Dance music), and "Tagungguan/tagunggo" (Playing Tagungguan music). Manobo vocal music consists of ritual songs which are narrative songs, lullabies, and songs of nature at the same time. An important song type is the epic song Owaging/Uwahingen, whose equivalent in the Kulaman Valley is Duyoy Taguden.


Among the Cotabato Manobo, susunan is the generic term for any kind of song including the Uwaging epic. The mandata are love songs; the delinda are occupation songs, war songs, lullabies, planting and harvest songs; the minudar and mauley are funeral songs (Maquiso 1977). The nalit is a type of song that relates life experiences.

The various dances among the Manobo entertain, educate, and propitiate the gods. In Kidapawan, Cotabato, girls dance around the mortar to the beat of their pestles as they pound rice. During harvest celebrations, the Tigwahanon have an occupational dance called inamong, in which men and women execute monkeylike steps as they step on rice stalks to separate the chaff from the grain. The bakbak is a children's comical dance; they hop and make noises by slapping their bodies while maintaining a squatting position throughout.

The agpanikop (fish hunt dance) of the Manobo of Matalam, north Cotabato, portrays a boy, torch and spear in hand, looking for edible frogs. A second boy joins him in the hunt after the initial mutual wariness is dispelled. The second boy is wounded and writhes in pain, the first boy fetches the womenfolk and the baylan. The dance turns into a healing dance ritual and the boy, fully recovered, joins the women and baylan in a thanksgiving dance.

The pangayam is a reenactment of a hunter in pursuit of a wild boar. He carries his lance and bolo and is accompanied by his dog, represented by a bottle to which a strip of red cloth is tied.

In the Umayamnon inanak-anak/bata-bata, a girl mimes a woman's chores. She pretends to take care of a baby, putting it to sleep, trying to stop its carrying, feeding it with milk. She goes to the fields to dig for camote, then washes and makes herself beautiful before a stream.

The Tigwahanon bangkakaw is a festival dance celebrating a war victory or a bountiful catch of fish from the river. The centerpiece is the bangkakaw (log), which the women beat with the ando (pestles) and the men, with lampus (rods) while doing some stunts over and under it. They provide the accompaniment for the dancing fisherfolk, who carry their catch in their bubo (fish traps) and liag (large basket with a headsling).

A thanksgiving ritual in Magpet, North Cotabato, is the binadbad, which begins with the men facing heavenwards as they address the gods. Atop (coconut palms) are suspended at the center of the dance area. Then women join the dance, their attention on the atop, which they gather one by one. They then vary their formations, each holding an atop. Another woman joins them, gathers all the atop from them, and returns these to the center.

Among the western Bukidnon Manobo, the dance of the healing ritual is the legudas. Women holding hands form a circle around the baylan, who chants to the busaw, requesting it to return to the deity that has sent it to cause the illness. The men then stand between the women in the circle. The women wear the saya (wraparound skirt), sinu-laman (embroidered blouse), embroidered belt, and tikes (knee band) with the seriyew (pewter bells). The rhythmic music is provided by the seriyew.

The haklaran, which has been observed among the Agusanon, Tigwahanon, and Umayamnon, is a healing ritual performed by a male and female baylan. A prelude to this is the ritual dressing of the male baylan in woman's skirt, usually a malong, for it is improper for a man to perform the haklaran in a man's attire. This dance is performed around the sankaw, an altar bearing the sacrificial offering of a pig's head.

The suyad-buya is the healing ritual dance in Magpet, North Cotabato. It dramatizes the process by which the baylan heals a sick boy as his mother and a group of young women watch. The women prepare the paraphernalia by bringing in a table on which they set four coconut shells containing burning incense. They also carry red ribbons meant to drive the evil spirits away. As they dance in the background, the baylan enters, dances around the patient and waves a white chicken overhead. The shaman takes the chicken to the table, cuts its neck, and smears the patient's forehead with its blood. The boy regains his health and dances joyfully with the women and his mother.

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