Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The ‘Cotabato’ Puzzle

Kuta–Wato, Kutang–Bato, ah, we already know that, right? It is when someone starts asking “WHERE” is Cotabato that things start to get muddled in terms of area references. More than a puzzle actually. Here’s what I know so far… and these could be changing now or will change a bit more later!

There was once the Moro Province created in 1903 during the American occupation. It consisted of five districts - Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, Sulu, and Zamboanga. Simple, right? But we are talking Cotabato, so let’s leave all other districts aside…

First there was the town named Cotabato. Then the district was named in its sake. When the Moro Province was chunked into provinces instead of districts, there became the province of Cotabato with the capital town also named Cotabato. Just like Tarlac, Tarlac, Iloilo, Iloilo or Cebu, Cebu. In 1959 the town became Cotabato City. Simple, wasn’t it?

However, in 1966 the province was chunked into two when south Cotabato was created, that later was even also chunked into two when its 3rd district was created into what is now Saranggani Province. Anyway, the remaining province of Cotabato was also chunked into three! That was in 1973 when it became North Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat. Where was Cotabato City here? Inside what became Maguindanao province where it is not a part of. Thus, as early as 1973, Cotabato City was not in North Cotabato nor South Cotabato!

Hey, do you remember that popular song Cotabato(Ang Bayan Kong Sinilangan) sang by Asin? It starts with… “sa bayan ng Cotabato…”, right? Bayan means town, right? So which Cotabato was that song referring to when it was released in 1978? Hmm, at least we know that one of the singers was/is from South Cotabato. But it’s a lalawigan (province) and not a bayan (town)! Magulo talaga, kahit kanta hehe!

Now now… as if the complication was not enough, in 1983 the province of North Cotabato was renamed to just Cotabato! So, at that time, if you said you were going to Cotabato, that would have been incomplete and misleading! Because, Cotabato (city) is not even near Cotabato (province) haha. There are towns in between!

When this country was later chunked into regions, Cotabato was named part of Region 12 called Central Mindanao. No issue, but that was then hehe! Its different now. Wanna try?

Alright…

Region 12 is now called “SOCCSKSARGEN” generally pronounced by locals as “sok-sar-gen”. What the hell does that mean?! Well, for kids literally wanting to know what each letter of the acronym means, it is in itself an issue especially during quizzes and school discussions hehe. But here we go…

The “SO” portion means the province of South Cotabato. But some folks I asked say it’s the first 3 letters “SoC” that represents South Cotabato. Okay, fine!

The first “C” represents Cotabato! Which one? Mamili ka hehehe! If you want it to be the province of Cotabato (previously called ‘North Cotabato’) fine. But if you want it to mean Cotabato City, fine too!

The next “C” (4th letter of the acronym) means Cotabato too! Which in the devils name does it mean?! Well, you have chosen above, right? So..., that which you did not choose is it! Meaning this “C” can also mean either Cotabato Province or Cotabato City!

“SK” means Sultan Kudarat, “SAR” means Saranggani and “GEN” is General Santos City.

Let’s finish this off with a conversation I had with one friend sometime ago:

Friend: But where is Cotabato City?
Me: Ah ehh… its in the heart (the very middle) of Maguindanao province!
Friend: Duh, but Maguindanao is not part of SOCCSKSARGEN
Me: Well, do you want to know or do you want to argue? Ha?!

See?! Cotabato is such a… whatever hehe! If you’re hot-headed like me, discussing Cotabato with friends can actually start World War 3 hahaha! Let’s continue our conversation…

Me: The Regional Center of ARMM is in Cotabato City?
Friend: What?! Didn’t you just say Cotabato is SOCCSKSARGEN?
Me: Yes, but the capital (capitol) of ARMM is in there.
Friend: This is crazy, why are they doing this?!
Me: I don’t know, am not part of them hehehe!

And our conversation flowed towards ARMM. You wanna hear more of the puzzles? Ah, let’s do it in my next story!

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