If one would imagine Cotabato City solely from how media paints it to be, I would picture people cowering in fear hiding in their homes, areas devastated by bomb blast or probably a war zone (now that is exaggerating a bit). But being there is different. I didn’t have heightened alarms ringing in my head like when I was in Basilan during an election period, and I see people, families happily going around the street. Yes there are military check points for safety purposes but threats to security won’t stop this city from developing, especially with the people striving for a change. With the old structures are new establishments changing the way Cotabateños live.
Within the city there are interesting landmarks to visit. At the city plaza is the Old City Hall, a beautiful Malay-inspired building with elements of ethnic design in its architecture. Currently, it is home to a team of Marines. I do hope they try to utilize this structure further like a museum or better, their tourism office. From what I’ve seen, the building condition isn’t getting any better.
The New City Hall is now at Malagpas which they now called the People’s Palace, aptly named since this new seat of local government was made and funded with the people’s money. The building is a hybrid of modern neo-classical and Moro design. It may look like a straight line structure but viewed on the side angle, the wings look like long outstretched arms ready to embrace.
What could be spearheading in development of Cotabato City is the Al Nor Commercial Complex along Sinsuat Avenue. Al Nor houses a number of eateries, shops, a business hotel and the first 24-hours convenience store in the City. Before, a lot of Cotabateños just go home after work. Now some people would head out here at night just to chill at one of the coffee shops like Bo’s or other cafes. Young entrepreneurs are also able to showcase some of their works and business at the shops.
The AL Nor Hotel and Convention Center has to be the most upscale in the city at the moment with its 30 gorgeous rooms complete with hi-end amenities from flat-screen TV, ref, wifi among others. All that at a starting price of P1300 up to the more expensive P3500. They also have 3 function rooms that can occupy up to 1,200 persons. They are becoming a favourite for weddings and events.
Cotabato City is changing, despite the adversities the city faces, it won’t stop them from developing. They definitely want to share their treasures to the rest of the country. Cotabato City welcomes everyone with a warm embrace.
Al Nor Hotel and Convention Center
Telephone: (064) 552.0188
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.