South Cotabato is a province of the Philippineslocated in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao. Its capital is Koronadal City, and it borders Sultan Kudarat to the north and west, Sarangani to the south and east, and Davao del Sur to the east. To the southeast liesSarangani Bay.
General Santos, located on the shores of Sarangani Bay, is the largest city in the region, but is governed independently from the province. The province of Sarangani used to be part of South Cotabato until it was made an independent province in 1992.
Centuries ago, the area that would be the South Cotabato was sparsely inhabited by Malay pioneers which later evolved into various ethnic groupings that still exist in the province today. Settlers, who would lay the foundation of what would become a progressive province, started trooping down 1914.
The significant thrust occurred during the term of President Quezon in late 1930s. General Paulino Santos led the first of wave of settlers that time. After World War II, the final exodus of settler from Luzon and Visayas poured into the area's virgin land.
In the early 1960s as population, trade and industries grew in southern part of Cotabato, a clamor of local self-governance arose. Thus, on July 18, 1966, South Cotabato was separated from Cotabato as an independent province. At that time, the province consisted of 11 municipalities, namely: Banga, General Santos (now a city), Glan, Kiamba, Koronadal, Maitum, Norala, Polomolok, Surallah, Tantangan, and Tupi. These municipalities were established long before the creation of the province. Other component municipalities were formed after it fully functioned as a province.
In 1992, the province of Sarangani was formed out of South Cotabato. Seven towns in southern and coastal section of the province (Malungon, Alabel, Malapatan, Glan, Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum) became part of the new province, leaving South Cotabato with 11 remaining municipalities.
Regional offices were relocated to South Cotabato in accordance with EO 429 dated October 12, 1990, issued by President Corazon C. Aquino and EO No. 36 dated September 19, 2001, issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, provide for the reorganization of the new Administrative Region in Mindanao and having the city of Koronadal as the regional center of Region XII.
On August 16, 2000, Republic Act No. 8803 was approved, that converted the municipality of Koronadal into a component city of South Cotabato.
South Cotabato is located on the southern part of the Island of Mindanao, bounded by the province of Sultan Kudarat in the north and west, province of Sarangani in the east and south.
South Cotabato has a total land area of 3,935.95 square kilometres (1,519.68 sq mi). When General Santos City is included for geographical purposes, the province's land area is 4,428.81 square kilometres (1,709.97 sq mi).
It is generally flat dotted with some hills and mountains.
The people of South Cotabato have diverse heritages. Ilonggos from Panayand Negros in the Visayas settled the municipalities of Norala, Banga, Surallah, Sto. Niño and the province's capital, Koronadal, The province's major communication media is Filipino, English or Hiligaynon. On the other hand, people from the Ilocano speaking regions of Luzon settled in Tampakan, Tantangan and Tupi, and the Ilocano language may still be heard spoken in these towns. The Visayan language, Cebuano is also the main ethnic ethnolinguistic group of the municipality of Polomolok and is one of the main ethnolinguistic groups of Tupi (along with Ilonggo and Tagalog, which slightly differs from Manila Tagalog). Both towns are near to Cebuano-speaking General Santos City.
The Maguindanao tribe is the major Muslim Filipino tribe in the province. Although many of them still wear their traditional costumes and practice their native customs, others have come to adapt the more liberal practices of their Christian neighbors such as wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts, eschewing the use of the headscarf, and attending dances/mixed gatherings. Other indigenous Filipino tribes are the T'boli and B'laan tribes in Lake Sebu and T'boli municipalities, famous for their brassworks, beadwork and t'nalak weave. The people of these tribes wear colorful embroidered native costumes and beadwork accessories. The women of these tribes, particularly, wear heavy brass belts with brass 'tassels' ending in tiny brass bells that herald their approach even when they are a long way off.
The people of South Cotabato still retain many of the practices and traditions of their particular tribal heritages, although infused with a flavor that is distinctly Mindanaoan and the product of cultural interaction between the immigrants and the indigenous peoples of the area. One vivid example of this is the predominant use of the native 'malong', the colorful, tubelike garment used as a skirt by the indigenous tribes, in place of a blanket or sleeping bag.
The native Maguindanaon of South Cotabato have a fascinating culture that revolves around kulintang music, a specific type of gong music, found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines.