Chasing Mosques 2018 Travel Guide: Your (PROVEN) Safety Guide on Visiting Philippines’ Famous Mosques — MAGUINDANAO-COTABATO CITY EDITION

READY! SET! CHASE!

Enough chasing waterfalls, chasing sunsets, and chasing summits or even chasing that unrequited love. The year 2017 has ended and let’s chase another kind of wonder this 2018. The kind of chase that will make you experience the combination of fear, excitement, and wonderment. How about chasing Islamic structures in Mindanao? Sounds kinda risky but let’s give it a try this 2018.

READY!

I’ve been chasing a lot of natural wonders in the Philippines for most of my 2017. Chasing waterfalls on world-class waterforms of Cebu and Negros to the parallel beauties secluded in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Chasing sunsets on the most beautiful islands in the world — Palawan, Cebu, and Boracay I must say — to equally beautiful ones in my hometown. Chasing summits that are undeniably breathtaking on every mountain in the major islands of our country. I’m not saying that I had enough of these for I am a sucker for these kinds.

LRM_EXPORT_20180213_124146

Nevertheless, I want to chase a different kind of wonder. Somewhat, a one of a kind before 2017 ends. Until I experience one the of the most exciting — or fearsome maybe — chase I’ve ever done. That is chasing mosques in Mindanao.

I’ll be lying if I would say that I don’t have second thoughts about it especially the still rising military conflicts in some parts of Mindanao. It was a bit scary for me at first. It’s about exchanging my own safety and comfort zone for my wanderlust. But then, I told myself, “It’s not something I get a chance to do every day.” It was a matter of now or never. Somehow, my craving for adventure overcome my fears.

SET!!

It was the third day of our SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao Adventure and our last day here in Cotabato City. We prepared our things before checking out from our hotel. It was an early morn in this sleepy city. The roosters greeted the king’s first-born rays while it painted the sky with orange hues. We strolled the streets looking for some food stalls to have our breakfast. Surprisingly, having a city status, Cotabato City is much like a laidback town in Mindanao. Silent and peaceful amidst the circulating news on national media. After our first meal of the day, we bid goodbye to our friend Aries for he is returning back to Davao for his work. And the chasing begins.

LRM_EXPORT_20180213_133947

CHASE!!!

SULTAN HAJI HASSANAL BOLKIAH MASJID

LRM_EXPORT_20171209_110040

For the first mosque, we visited Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid also known as The Grand Mosque. The masjid was funded by a wealthy sultan in Brunei, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, thus its namesake, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid.


FULL The Grand Mosque Experience HERE


THE GRAND MOSQUE IN PHOTOS

Here are some photos that were taken on The Grand Mosque.

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_141714

LRM_EXPORT_20180122_181124

LRM_EXPORT_20171221_112331

LRM_EXPORT_20171219_220522

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143242

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143228

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143220

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143235

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143153

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143228

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143148

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143159

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143141

If you’ve been to The Grand Mosque, share your photos in the comment section below.

HELPFUL TIPS & INFOS

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143558


FULL The Grand Mosque Experience HERE


  • ATM booths are not available near the mosque. Booths are available in Cotabato City proper and are open 24 hours. Better to cash out ahead before going to the mosque.
  • Take a morning ride before the city traffic gets heavier on rush hours and you might experience golden hour around the mosque during this time.
  • Always take with you your IDs. There might be random checkpoints around the area. Just present your IDs to the authorities. This is just a normal routine here in Mindanao. No need to be anxious. Unless you’ve done something unlawful.
  • Be kind to habal-habal drivers as they might give a lower fare for a ride. And please, don’t haggle too much, especially with the honest, hardworking local folk. They need it and deserve your hard-earned money.
  • Pork products and foods are not available on the karenderya (food stalls) or any sari-sari stores nearby. Be more sensitive before asking those kinds of things around the area. Chicken, fish, and beef are usually on their menus. Eat up and drink plenty of fluids before entering.
  • You can use the comfort rooms of the nearby karenderya (food stalls) for changing your clothes and personal usage.
  • The tour around The Grand Mosque doesn’t need a tour guide. You can tour alone or with a group.
  • Bring an umbrella as some parts of the place are uncovered. Bring some sunglasses too as it gets too bright during the sun’s peak hours. These things are only optional but you could use them as your props during photo ops.
  • There’s a decent mobile signal and mobile data on all service providers on the place. 4G/LTE signals are available for those who want to update their whereabouts.
  • A little research before the trip about the place won’t hurt you.

REMINDERS & GUIDES

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143247

Within a Muslim community, the mosque is the most important. Therefore, they are quite influential in the community as a whole. The mosque is a pure environment where acts of worship are performed. There are like the heart of the Muslim community. So here are some reminders and guides for my non-muslim travelers like me in visiting The Grand Mosque.


FULL The Grand Mosque Experience HERE


  • Dress conservatively. Avoid wearing ripped jeans, off shoulders, skirts, shorts, spaghetti shirt and other dresses that will show off too much of your skin. Women must be covered from head to toe. Literally. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are not skintight, then wear a headscarf to hide the majority of the hair. When the headscarf is falling back, you need to put it back immediately. Sandals and slippers are okay as far as I know inside the premises but not inside the prayer halls. Men must also wear long pants and proper shirts. But if you are wearing these inappropriate dresses, the caretaker will let you rent Islamic clothing with headscarf provided for women and skullcaps for men just outside the Grand Mosque for P30.00.
  • Don’t enter a mosque during prayer time. Respect our Muslim brethren in their most holy state.
  • Taking photos and videos are allowed. Just don’t point your cameras at our brethren while praying. I suggest on not taking vulgar selfies or any inappropriate ones. And also, be mindful of posting photos or videos on the internet.
  • Never lose sight of respect. When we are in the house of another, we must never lose sight of respect. Hugging, holding hands, kissing, and arms wrapped around the opposite sex inside the mosque is not allowed. Even for married couples, the things mentioned are not allowed. No swearing of words as this is a place of worship for our Muslim brethren and not for street burglars.
  • No food and drinks on the premises. It is highly discourage to bring but it is not forbidden. They worry about affecting the tidiness and cleanliness in the area. You might consider eating and drinking before you enter the premises.
  • Act accordingly. No running or playing on the premises. Must have appropriate manners while inside the premises. No raising of voices as this is a place for worship and not a marketplace. Be polite and humble to everyone inside. No sleeping. A mosque is not your pass time place.
  • Free of charge. The entrance to mosques is free, but donations are highly appreciated.
  • Golden Hour. The best time to visit is (before and/or after their prayer time) during sunrise and/or sunset.
  • Be vigilant at all times. There’s no safe place on earth.

HOW TO GET TO THE GRAND MOSQUE

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_143207

Lies some kilometers away from city center, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, famously known as The Grand Mosque, stands in the middle of a vast land surrounded by the bodies of water of Tamontaka River and Moro Gulf and now serves as the center of Islamic faith in Mindanao. The nearest airport to get here would be Cotabato City Airport in Maguindanao province flying from Cebu, Manila, and Zamboanga City.

  • Via Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao: From Cotabato City Airport, hire a tricycle/payong-payong or habal-habal going directly to The Grand Mosque. The Grand Mosque and the airport are just several hundred meters away. Travel time is 30 minutes.
  • Via Cotabato City: Ride a jeep going to the airport (P8.00). Alight on Kalanganan junction going to The Grand Mosque. Hire a habal-habal to the mosque.Travel time is less than 30 minutes.

MASJID DIMAUKOM

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145851

For our second stop in chasing mosque, we visited Masjid Dimaukom or famously known as The Pink Mosque of Maguindanao. Known for its bright pink color, it symbolizes peace and love here in Maguindanao.


FULL Pink Mosque Experience HERE


THE PINK MOSQUE IN PHOTOS

Here are some photos that were taken on the Pink Mosque.

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145945

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145913

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145906

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145844

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_150056

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145959

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_150005

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145932

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145926

If you’ve been to the Pink Mosque, share your photos in the comment section below.

HELPFUL TIPS & INFOS

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145838


FULL Pink Mosque Experience HERE


  • There are no ATM booths available near the Pink Mosque. Better to cash out ahead before going here.
  • Always take with you your IDs. There might be random checkpoints around the area. Just present your IDs to the authorities. This is just a normal routine here in Mindanao. No need to be anxious. Unless you’ve done something unlawful.
  • There are karenderya (food stalls) from the junction to the mosque. You could opt to buy food, snacks, and drinks from here. Pork products and foods are not available on the karenderya (food stalls) or any sari-sari stores nearby. Be more sensitive before asking those kinds of things around the area. Chicken, fish, and beef are usually on their menus.
  • Bring an umbrella as some parts of the place are uncovered. Bring some sunglasses too as it gets too bright during the sun’s peak hours. These things are only optional but you could use them as your props during photo ops.
  • There’s a decent mobile signal and mobile data on all service providers on the place. 4G/LTE signals are available for those who want to update their whereabouts.
  • A little research before the trip about the place won’t hurt you.

REMINDERS & GUIDES

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_150101

Unlike The Grand Mosque, the Pink Mosque tolerates some clothing of their visitors but one must observe the proper dress code in every place of worship. Mosques are like the heart of the Muslim community. So here are some reminders and guides for my non-muslim travelers like me in visiting the Pink Mosque.


FULL Pink Mosque Experience HERE


  • Dress properly. Out of respect for our Muslim brethren, women should avoid wearing ripped jeans, off shoulders, skirts, shorts, spaghetti shirt and other dresses that will show off too much of your skin. Must wear at least shorts that are below the knee length or preferably long pants and closed-neck shirts or long sleeves. Men should avoid wearing tank top shirts. Wear shorts or long pants and shirt or long sleeves. Sandals and slippers are okay as far as I know inside the premises but not at the prayer halls.
  • Don’t enter a mosque during prayer time. Respect our Muslim brethren in their most holy state.
  • Taking photos and videos are allowed. Just don’t point your cameras at our brethren while praying. I suggest on not taking vulgar selfies or any inappropriate ones. And also, be mindful of posting photos or videos on the internet.
  • Never lose sight of respect. When we are in the house of another, we must never lose sight of respect. No swearing of words as this is a place of worship for our Muslim brethren and not for street burglars.
  • Act accordingly. No running or playing on the premises. Must have appropriate manners while inside the premises. No raising of voices as this is a place for worship and not a marketplace. Be polite and humble to everyone inside. No sleeping. A mosque is not your pass time place.
  • Free of charge. The entrance to mosques is free, but donations are highly appreciated.
  • Be vigilant at all times. There’s no safe place on earth.
  • Do not walk around past the mosque. As a friendly advice of the locals there, you should not walk alone on the streets if you’re not familiar with the place.

HOW TO GET TO THE GRAND MOSQUE

LRM_EXPORT_20180212_145919

Located in the heart of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, the nearest airport to get here would be Cotabato City Airport in Maguindanao province flying from Cebu, Manila, and Zamboanga City.

  • Via Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao: From Cotabato City Airport, ride a habal-habal to the highway or to Cotabato City. Take a bus/van from there bound for Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and ask the dispatcher to alight you on the junction of the Pink Mosque. The Pink Mosque is visible from the junction and just a stone’s throw away. Travel time is less 80 minutes.
  • Via land travel: From General Santos City or Davao City or any neighboring provinces, take a bus or a van (P200.00-P300.00) bound for Cotabato City and ask the dispatcher to alight you on the junction of the Pink Mosque. Travel time is more or less than 3 hours.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS:

LRM_EXPORT_20180213_124205

  • Please practice LNT principles. The mosques are places of worships and religious acts. Maintain cleanliness in exchange for gratitude to our Muslim brethren that they welcomed us in the house of their God.
  • Be vigilant at all times. There’s no safe place on earth even in the safest places you’ve known.
  • ENJOY YOUR VISIT! Pull off a memorable experience in visiting the mosques.

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s