Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cotabato is not ARMM, And Vice-Versa!

Talking about the weird confusing location of Cotabato (City), people naturally also talk about ARMM. Why? Because said ‘region’ is part of the confusion that is Cotabato! Just an addition, in fact. And, as promised in the previous story, let’s talk about what I’ve learned about Cotabato and ARMM so far…

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Again, as said in a previous blog, its “IN Muslim Mindanao” not “OF Muslim Mindanao” as many I know would mis-describe it. You will agree that those two little words (in and of) matter a lot especially to the learned folks I asked about ARMM and Mindanao. One professor tells me that “in Muslim Mindanao” says there is an autonomous region amongst places where majority of residents are Muslims. On the other hand, she says that “of Muslim Mindanao” seems to construe that the autonomous region is the only Muslim-populated area in Mindanao – which is not. If you didn’t get that (I had a hard time), we can always say… “whadeveeer” hehe!

But if Cotabato (city, province, north or south) is not part of ARMM, why does that name keep on appearing when we talk ARMM? Or why is it that ARMM immediately comes to fore when we talk about Cotabato? Well, it is because Cotabato City is geographically inside ARMM. So why is it not part of ARMM? The people who live in that city don’t like to be. As simple as that! How did that happen? They had a plebiscite asking residents in a very wide area spanning from as far east as Davao Del Sur and as far northwest as Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Of those many provinces that cast votes, only Tawi-tawi, Sulu, Lanao Del Sur and Maguindnao decided for it. So they became they ‘original’ ARMM.

Unfortunately, Cotabato City that is an independent government unit from any province, sits at the very heart of Maguindanao. And unfortunately too, the proponents have built their headquarters inside the city for whatever actual or perceived reasons hehe. So, the Office of the Regional Governor for ARMM Region is very much inside Cotabato City, just a few steps away from Estosan Hotel – and even nearer the city center than its own city hall or hospital!

Let’s do the cute mind-boggling realities…

Cotabato City is not in Cotabato (province – formerly called North Cotabato)
Cotabato City is not in South Cotabato either
Cotabato City is part of Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) but physically detached from all others
Cotabato City is in Maguindanao province, but is not part of it
Maguindanao (only) and not Cotabato City is part of ARMM Region
ARMM’s Regional offices are inside Cotabato City that is not part of it
Therefore the ARMM’s Regional Headquarters are in SOCCSKSARGEN which is another region!


Mind you, I wouldn’t have bothered knowing about all those things had I not been roaming Cotabato City! Just some of the learnings I encounter – sometimes even reluctantly – by traveling around this beautiful country! Then maybe I should teach 4th grade geography. Or go back to 4th grade hehe!

I love this country!


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