Koronadal City, Mindanaos Melting Pot.

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Flag of Philippines  , South Cotabato,
Saturday, November 7, 2009

Text and Images by Ronald de Jong

The City of Koronadal, popularly known to the local population as Marbel, is the capital city of South Cotabato province, a bubbling, virtual melting pot of contrasting ethnic cultures and influences, many dialects and indigenous traditions.

Despite living in a troubled region many different people from all walks of life, different beliefs, different dreams, different hopes and different yearning live united in one place.
Truly understanding the art of getting along in harmony, creating a living mosaic of wonderful individuals with a common desire for peace. The city's religious and rich cultural diversity is shown in exotic festivals and events like the Tnalak festival, the Kawayan festival and the Hinugyaw festival. These colourful and lively celebrations are the major attractions of the town and mirror its vibrant and authentic character. The people of Koronadal can be described as warm and friendly. A community that is willing to accept visitors from all backgrounds, religions and origins, which are always greeted with a smile and can be sure of a welcoming and hospitable spirit.

Koronadal City is a modern, multi-cultural city but it retains much of the local colour, there are hardly any high-rise buildings or other tall structures. The small but energetic city centre is always bustling with activity. The mix of many small businesses and street vendors on the sidewalks, bicycles, tricycles, jeepneys, pedestrians, kids playing and other traffic create an organised chaos that has a certain charm that is just Koronadal. The public market is a hive of activity with a colourful and lively atmosphere; many stalls are filled and cleared every day. A myriad of hairdressers, fish and meat vendors, fruit and vegetable sellers. If not for shopping, but just for the experience of how the locals shop, a visit to the market is an interesting experience and well worth a visit.

This is a city of vibrant colors and hues, it offers the most amazing experiences set on a palette. No matter where your interests lie, a trip to Koronadal city is sure to sweep you with its charm and natural- and man made attractions. This region is not the world’s top tourist destination, but the perfect gateway to explore the region with its natural beauty, to visit the wonders of the lush, tropical rainforests in the highlands where a big part of the original jungle is still conserved, the majestic Millenium waterfalls, the versatile Cadidang Caves, the huge rock formations in Barangay Cacub and the South Cotabato Wildlife and Nature Preserve. The woodlands are ideal for bird-watching, the Philippine Eagle and Tarsier are among the most important wildlife species sighted in the tropical rain forest of Lake Sebu, one of the most visited destination in South Cotabato. The region offers many attractions that local and foreign travellers should not miss to complete an adventure filled holiday. Koronadal city truly offers a matchless variety of colorful travel destinations. Throughout the impressive landscape quiet, rural municipalities and charming villages are tucked away in picturesque corners of the province.

Never travel on an empty stomach so, last but not the least, there is one more thing that is one of the main attractions in the city. It is the Mindanaoan cuisine, variety is the word that best describes Philippine food. When it comes to the local cuisine this exotic Island is better known for its Balut, Durian and Lechon baboy, delicacies for those with an open appetite for the colours and tastes of traditional Philippine food.

One of those unusual delicacies is the notorious cooked duck egg named Balut, a very popular Filipino street snack. A balut is not like a normal egg, the shell contains a fertilized egg with a nearly-developed, healthy living embryo, between seventeen to twenty days in gestation. The embryo is complete with recognisable features, almost ready to see the daylight.  This "national passion" is eaten in the shell and considered as a high-protein, hearty snack also believed to be an aphrodisiac. Before the shell is peeled off, he broth surrounding the embryo can be sipped from the egg, after this the tender chick inside can be taken in. Cooked balut is normally sold by street vendors out of buckets filled with sand, used to keep the eggs warm and given with small packets of salt or spiced vinegar.

The durian is a large, spiky fruit, native to the tropical rainforests of Mindanao, also known as "the king of the fruits" and widely considered to be the world's smelliest. The flavour of durian is sweet, but the odour is nearly overwhelmingly repelling and offensive even when the husk is intact.  Real durian lovers say the fruit smells like hell but it tastes like heaven, they are convinced that it tastes like it looks, the worse the smell, the better the taste. This smell raises many different reactions from extreme disgust to utmost appreciation. This tropical lowland fruit is not only distinctive for its unique odour and taste, also for its large size and impressive thorn-covered husk. The mature fruit is golden brown and yellow, the taste of the flesh can be described as creamy and sweet. The seeds found inside can be eaten raw, roasted or canned.  Durian is very nutritious and is filled with proteins, minerals and fats.

Lechon Baboy is an all-time, truly delicious Filipino favourite food and one of the many highlights of Filipino fiestas and other special occasions. Any Filipino celebration would be incomplete without this symbol of the Philippine feast on the table. Lechon baboy is prepared in traditional Filipino style by stuffing the inside of the pig with a variety of herbs and vegetables, like onions, garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Preparing the pig for consumption takes nearly a whole day. The body is soaked in hot water, shaved and thoroughly cleaned. The pig is then slowly roasted for several hours over a charcoal fire, resulting in tender meat with a rich, dark brown and crispy skin. Lechon Baboy is traditionally served with an apple in its mouth, carved, and eaten with a delicious liver-based sauce.

The interior of the province offers fertile grounds that produce some of the tastiest vegetables and fruits in Mindanao. There are fruits and flowers everywhere: durian, marang, mangosteen and rambutan as well as banana, pineapple and various citrus fruits; and countless varieties and species of orchids and other fascinating flora.

Koronadal, a kaleidoscopic, lively city that reflects both influences of East and West, it's no wonder that so many different communities call this city their home
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Helen Gillanders on

Oh the Philippines, my very favorite part of the world. I like the City of Cebu and it's province. I adore Iloilo with it's Spanish buildings and it's elegant Universities. The beautiful island of Guimaras is a travelers dream come true. Except perhaps for the organised beach areas, they are a pity. Would be far nicer to have free access to the beaches rather than have to pay to go where you really don't wish to be. Iloilo is rated by myself as the easiest town to get around in. The people are extremely helpful there and taxi drivers are honest. Same can't be said for their counterparts in Manila. Manila is a nightmare for the hardiest traveler. Beautiful city, nice hotels but the traffic is even worse than in Bangkok Thailand. Then we have the beautiful island of Boracay. 10 years ago it was sensational to arrive on Boracay's White Beach. Today you have to arrive in Manoc-Manoc Port Area and from there you are obliged to ride in some form of transportation to your final destination. Before getting of at the Boat Stations and going where you wanted was ideal. However nothing detracts from the beauty of Boracay's Coconut Palm trees all along the beautiful white beach. Today, unfortunately, after the fire in the Talipapa Market Place a whole lot of 5 star Hotels have sprung up all along the front beach making everything very expensive and in my opinion polluted. I last visited Boracay 2 years ago and said it would be my last visit. The people are nice but all caught up in the ever increasing prices for tourists. I think eventually it will price itself out of the normal tourist reach leaving room only for organised tourism from Korea and Japan.

Gyver H. Benerio on

Im from Koronadal,Truly it is a wonderful place that i can consider it a home,to the writer,,thank you for exploring my home

aurora on

koronadal city is the best

Danny Carrera on

I would like more to see new photographs of Koronadal landscape. I am from Koronadal and I am amazed by the transformation of once a sleepy town in what is it today. Koronanal is my home.

aliawan on

Hi Danny, Thank you for your comment, more images coming up. Greetings from Boy Aliawan!

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