Tuesday, December 2, 2008

PC Hill, Cotabato City

Happy about my ORG visit, I took a jeep ride going back to center of the city purportedly to return to my Hotel Castro. However, when I alighted from the jeep, I saw this big gate that looked like a military camp, but I got curious why many folks were going in there. I asked a passerby what that gate was and she said “PC Hill”! Oh, it rang a bell! I think I’ve read it somewhere in my Lonely Planet book. So I crossed the road and asked the officers manning the gate. Hah, PC means Pedro Colina and not Philippine Constabulary as I earlier thought hehe. It is a military camp yes – of the national police – but like Camp Crame, there are also civilian residents who live inside the camp. Plus, the views from the top of the hill is good and there is a cave!

As if on cue, while the officer finished telling me things about PC Hill, a habal-habal came and the driver asked “sir, akyat kayo?”. I looked at the military man as if searching for an approval and he nodded! So I said “tara”! But I told the driver I will just go up for a short while and come back down again, so he would have to wait for me. Agreed As we started the ascent, driver slowed down at one portion and pointed to me the entrance to a cave. I said no I am not a big fan of caves. I did ask him about those and he told me that these caves all over the place is how Cotabato got its name. “Kuta Wato”, “Kutang Bato” = fortress of stone or stone fortress. Hmm, a simple habal-habal driver telling me history! Then again, maybe he ferries tourists in this hill a lot of times.

Up the hill, we were not even at the summit yet but the views down to the city are indeed good. Not that its fantastic as foliage do try to get in the way at many portions along the road. Then we stopped at some make-shift gate where a very long and big pole crossed the road. It said “CLOSED”. Driver asked the military man in charge and he was told (in Tagalog) “sarado na, hapon na”. And driver explained to me that we were just a bit late. I noticed that there was some curious little things at a table in the guard house and I asked the man what he was doing. He said he was cleaning his weapon. Without me even asking the officer said, please don’t take a photo. So I did not.

We stayed just briefly listening to some military/police stories that the man gladly told us. I noticed even my driver also asked a number of questions. Like we learned that they have a firing range within the hill, they jog up and down this hill every morning, and so on! Okay, happy enough, if only for me to be able to say I saw Cotabato City and the rivers from up there. Yes rivers. It seems the Rio Grande does have a lot of tributaries criss-crossing Cotabato City.

On return, I just walked across from PC Hill gate to Hotel Castro.

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