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Travel stories: Koronadal City, Mindanao, Philippines

Koronadal, Philippines By Ronald de Jong

Koronadal City, Mindanao's Melting Pot, Philippines

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.

If the Filipino people have a reason for a celebration they will end up having a fiesta. It is a well known fact that Filipinos love celebrations, this can be seen in the way they celebrate their festivals and fiesta's.

Festivals in the Philippines are held throughout the country, these occaissions are celebrated with great intensity, passion and enthusiasm, with a a mixture of religion and culture. Every region, province and Citiy has different kinds of festivities and events. When visiting a fiesta one can experience the legendary Filipino hospitality and the vibrant nature of the Filipinos. There are many popular festivals in the Philippines like the Aliwan Festival. The Sinulog Festival, The Ati-atihan, Kadayawan Festival and many more. There is one festival however that is relatively not well-known, ......yet!

Get ready for the most exciting, popular and colorful festivals celebrated in South Cotabato on the island of Mindanao. The T'nalak Festival is named after a woven cloth created and woven by the women of the province's T'boli tribe, T'nalak is an indigenous team for a colourful way of weaving the abaca cloth.The abaca cloth is chosen as the festival icon and it symbolizes the blending of culture, strength and unity of the various ethnic groups living in the province.

The T'nalak festival is celebrated during the foundation anniversary of the province of South Cotabato, and is held in the month of July in the provincial capital of Koronadal City. This celebration kicks off with the Dayana Civic Parade highlighted by a float and cheer dance competition and closes with the T'nalak Parade or Madal Bel'. This colorful street dancing competition offers unique entertainment. Dancers from around the province, dressed in native costumes of B'laan, T'boli and other tribal groups in Mindanao, are performing on the streets of the city.

These competitions shows the rich and colorful heritage of the several minorities in this area and are just some of the activities to see in this event. They are also the spectacular highlights of the festival. The T'nalak parade is a perfomance that is a feast for the eyes, together with the sound of a pretty impressive tune that will keep you standing on your toes for a long time. The T'nalak festival puts together all the historical and spiritual culture of South Cotabato. It is a great event to see and a great way to see the Mindanao culture in action.. A visual expericience you will not want to miss, you can feel the unifying power of this celebration and the irrepressibly festive spirit of the participants and spectators.

More activities organised for the T'nalak festivities include cultural shows an agri-trade fair, bazaars, visits to various tourism attractions in the province. Concerts by local and national performers and a breath-taking fireworks display competition. with plenty in store to keep visitors entertained.

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.

Koronadal city is 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 city has also a variety of man made attractions that local and foreign travellers should not miss to complete an adventure filled holiday.

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. Throughout the impressive landscape quiet, rural municipalities and charming villages are tucked away in picturesque corners of the province.

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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