Without any vast lands to cultivate in this small Cotabato City, Trade and Commerce is the main livelihood in the city. With its strategic location, found at the heart of Mindanao, it is easy to travel to different points of Mindanao from the city, making it a popular transit and drop-off point for goods before bringing them to other areas. Staying at Don Rufino St, near and Parallel, Matampay River, a tributary of Rio Grande River, I visited the riverside “Bagsakan (drop-off)” and discovered a lively market scene filled with a splash of local colors.
Morning blue filled the scene as I watch boats after boats dock by the damp slippery steps of the place they call “Bagsakan”. Not only were the boats overflowing with fresh catch of fishes but people were also using some boats as transport. Being there I also watched as some people immediately inspect the fishes as it was much cheaper before it reaches the market. What’s left of the unsold goods are hauled to the wet market nearby. I decided to follow the trail.
I made my way through a small alley sprawling with vendors selling different kind of goods from fruits, vegetables, vinegar, rice, salts and other local delicacies. But what struck me most were the colorful garbs the women wear in this city. Their brightly colored and beautiful patterned clothes, malong and hijabs really stood out from the gloomy morning.
Cotabato City has a couple large markets near Bagsakan, conveniently named Super Market and Mega Market. Super is a lot busy in the morning where most of the fish brought in are sold in its wet market. By noon this area would have toned down. Mega Market is the dry goods area. If one is looking for some souvenir goods here, particularly the inaul weaving, this would be a good place to buy them.
Around the vicinity, I noticed a lot of shops selling logs and wood panels. I asked my driver why so many logs are sold. I was told a lot of people here still prefer cooking their rice here on wood fire, as they claim it taste better than the ones cooked in a rice cooker.
It was a very interesting side trip. The people there were a lot more friendly and receptive to have their photos taken than I expected.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.