BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG SERIES: SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao Adventures & Misadventures

If the map of the Philippines was a Medieval Feast filled with wide varieties of cuisines, the south-central part of Mindanao could be where the cheese section is. Constantly ignored and bereaved with attention, though every finicky gourmand does, one should never miss this part of the feast. The same goes for this part of Mindanao, often left unnoticed by local and foreign travelers, SOCCSKSARGEN and Maguindanao provinces sit quietly on the Promise Land. Like the cheese section on a Medieval Feast, it dishes a bountiful list of options to travelers, offering rich culture, tradition, and religion from distinct ethnic groups and it’s nothing short of natural wonders that rivals other provinces’ gift from nature.

So when my friend invited me for an adventure on these parts of Mindanao, it was like exploring new flavors for my palate and taken a portion of my plate for new appetite. Here’s the detailed itinerary & expenses for that entire adventure.

AIRFARE

We had our plane tickets booked via Cebu Pacific Air during its promo dates. Our trip made possible with a P799.00 ticket from Cebu to Cotabato City and a P799.00 ticket from General Santos City back to Cebu.


DAY 01 — SUNSET SESSION

We arrived past 2PM already, grabbed a quick lunch on the nearby karenderia, and proceeded on our itinerary. We have only one destination in our itinerary and that is a sunset on top of the mountain.

READ: ✓ Mt. Minandar in Datu Odin Sinsuat

    • 02:15 PM: Arrived at Awang Airport. Late lunch – P77.00.
    • 03:50 PM: Arrived at Mt. Minandar jumpoff area, P420.00 – habal-habal ride from airport-jumpoff-city & guide fees. Environmental fee – P25.00
    • 04:30 PM: Prepped. Started the trek. P50.00 for drinks.
    • 05:30 PM: Summit and Photo Ops.
    • 05:50 PM: Start descent.
    • 06:20 PM: Back in the jumpoff area.
    • 06:30 PM: ETD to Cotabato City.
    • 07:15 PM: Hotel – P300.00. Dinner – P60.00
    • 10:00 PM: Lights Off.

TOTAL: P932.00

We spent the night in a hotel at the heart of the city of Cotabato and had our dinner on the local night market with pastil as the highlight of my night.

SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao destinations HERE!


DAY 02 — CHASING WATERFALLS

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We woke up early to catch up the first bus going to the Cotabato, the neighboring province. Going to the jumpoff wasn’t easy, it took almost 2 hours to get to the falls.

READ: Asik-Asik Falls of Alamada, Cotabato

  • 04:00 AM: Wake up time.
  • 05:25 AM: ETD to Libungan, Cotabato.
  • 06:15 AM: ETA at Libungan Market. P58.00 – bus.
  • 06:35 AM: Going to Asik-Asik Falls jumpoff area. P380 – (P1900/5pax)
  • 07:30 AM: ETA at jumpoff area. Breakfast & Water – P60.00. Entrance Fee – P30.00. Parking fee – P3.00 (P15.00/5pax)
  • 08:15 AM: Start trek downhill.
  • 08:40 AM: Asik-Asik Falls.
  • 11:10 AM: Going back to jump off area.
  • 11:50 AM: Lunch at jumpoff area – P40.00. Drivers’ meals – P34.00 (P170.00/5pax)
  • 12:25 PM: ETD to Libungan.
  • 01:40 PM: Libungan Market to Cotabato City – (P57.00).
  • 02:25 PM: ETA at Cotabato City.
  • 02:45 PM: Bargain Center. Souvenir – P50.00
  • 06:00 PM: Jeepney Fare – P7.00. Hotel – P300.00. Dinner – P70.00.
  • 10:00 PM: Lights Off.

TOTAL: P1,089.00

Back to the city, we had a quick shopping spree on one of their bargain stores. Bought some souvenirs of Muslim culture like malong, skullcap used by Muslim men, and other bargain-worthy souvenirs. Took our dinner on the same night market after we dropped our things and changed into clean clothes at the hotel.

SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao destinations HERE!


DAY 03 — CHASING MOSQUES & LAKES

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Chasing two of the most famous mosques in the Philippines was our item for this morning. We few stop while crossing several provinces and ended our trip for this on Lake Sebu.

READ: ✓ The Grand Mosque
READ: ✓ The Pink Mosque of Maguindanao
READ: ✓ Your Travel Guide in Chasing Mosques
READ: ✓ Lake Sebu Afternoon Stroll

  • 06:00 AM: Wake up time. Breakfast – (P55.00)
  • 06:45 AM: Heading to The Grand Mosque. Jeepney – P10.00. Habal-habal fare -P100.00 back and forth.
  • 07:15 AM: Arrival at The Grand Mosque. P30.00 – Islamic clothing rental.
  • 08:45 AM: Head back to the highway.
  • 09:20 AM: Bus ride to the next stop at the terminal – P60.00.
  • 10:10 AM: ETA at the Pink Mosque
  • 11:00 AM: ETD for Isulan, Sultan Kudarat- P100.00. Lunch – P60.00.
  • 12:20 PM: Bus bound for Surallah, South Cotabato – P60.00.
  • 01:20 PM: Bus bound for Lake Sebu – P40.00.
  • 02:00 PM: ETA at Lake Sebu. Walk to SLT since it’s just near the van terminal.
  • 02:10 PM: ETA at Lake Sebu School of Living Tradition – P350.00/night/guest.
  • 05:00 PM: Lakeside stroll. Habal-habal – P20.00. Entrance fee on the resort – P10.00.
  • 06:00 PM: Habal-habal back to SLT – P20.00.
  • 07:00 PM: Dinner – P200.00.
  • 09:00 PM: Lights Off.

TOTAL: P1,115.00

Our homestay for the night was at Lake Sebu School of Living Traditions. I highly recommended this place for those who want to have a Tboli cultural immersion. They served delicious food, too.

SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao destinations HERE!


DAY 04 — STRANDED STORY

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Gone on the road again, we proceeded with our itinerary to another Tboli tribe in Kule. We’re not even locals there but we felt welcomed, we felt accepted — accepted enough to feel like home. The tribespeople is very warm. They have one of the most genuine smiles we’ve seen. It’s a village that’s just brimming with life. And that one stranded experience is one for the books.

READ: ✓ Lake Sebu Morning Stroll
READ: The Tboli Tribe of Kule, South Cotabato

  • 05:00 AM: Wake Up Call
  • 06:00 AM: Habal-habal to Lake Lahit – P50.00/roundtrip
  • 06:40 AM: ETA at 7 Waterfalls. Entrance fee – P20.00
  • 08:30 AM: ETD to SLT
  • 08:40 AM: Breakfast at SLT – P100.00. Prep things.
  • 09:30 AM: Leaving SLT.
  • 10:10 AM: Surallah Wet Market. Prepped Lunch – P35.00. Camping food – P88.00 (P350.00/4pax)
  • 11:15 AM: Bus bound for T’boli, South Cotabato – P30.00.
  • 12:05 PM: T’boli Tourism Office. Registration and Environmental Fee – P150.00. Seeds for tree planting is P10.00. Camping fee – is P100.00/tent. Guide fee – P150.00 (P600.00/4pax). Habal-habal ride – P200.00 (P400.00/habal-habal/2pax).
  • 01:45 PM: Kule jumpoff area. Homestay – P175.00 (P500.00/group/4pax)
  • 02:00 PM: STRANDED!!!
  • 07:00 PM: Dinner – P25.00 (P100.00/4pax)
  • 10:00 PM: Lights Off.

TOTAL: P1,133.00

We spent our night in the Tboli village after canceling our trek due to the bad weather.

SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao destinations HERE!


DAY 05 — LAKE HOLON

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It was still dark when we started our trek to Lake Holon via Kule trail/Hunter’s trail. We had an awesome trekking experience after.

READ: Lake Holon the Crown Jewel of the South

  • 03:00 AM: Wake Up Call
  • 04:00 AM: Prepped & Morning coffee.
  • 05:00 AM: Commence trek. Wooden Stick – P30.00. Porter Fee – P210.00 (P20.00/kg × 10.5 kg)
  • 06:05 AM: View Deck. Waiting for clearing.
  • 09:00 AM: Clearing. Photo Ops.
  • 10:10 AM: Camping grounds. Canoe – P50.00. Photo Ops.
  • 11:05 AM: Lunch. Wood for fire – P5.00 (P20.00)
  • 12:00 NN: Descend.
  • 02:10 PM: Salacafe jumpoff area. Native coffee – P100. Bamboo cup – P50.00.
  • 02:35 PM: ETD to Tboli Tourism Office. Habal-habal – P150.00 (P300.00/habal-habal/2pax)
  • 04:10 PM: Tourism Office.
  • 04:35 PM: Bus bound for Marbel – P60.00.
  • 06:10 PM: ETA Marbel. Bus bound for General Santos City – P85.00.
  • 07:55 PM: General Santos City. Dinner – P150.00. Hostel – P300.00.
  • 10:00 PM: Lights Off.

TOTAL: P1,190.00

To catch up the last bus bound for General Santos City, we had an early descent to the foothills. We arrived at General Santos City almost late at night. Had our dinner at their plaza and spent the night in a cheap hostel.

SOCCSKSARGEN + Maguindanao destinations HERE!


DAY 06 — BACK TO REALITY

And it’s always an inexplicable nightmare the very time we took off of our plane from dreamland.

READ: Whole Trip Destinations

  • 05:00 AM: Wake Up Call
  • 05:30 AM: Checkout hostel.
  • 06:00 AM: Trike to SM GenSan – P10.00. Taxi to airport – P100.00 (P300.00/3pax)
  • 06:55 AM: Airport. Breakfast – P60.00.

TOTAL: P170.00

✓✓✓ TOTAL TRIP COSTS: P5629.00
×××ESTIMATED BUDGET: P6982.00

It’s Just Another Awesome Adventure. Our wanderlust led us here, so now we turn the page to you. Now is your time to chase your own adventure here in Central and Southern Mindanao.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow, this is truly a comprehensive itinerary filled with important information. I have been to Maguinadanao several times, but I didn’t explore all these gems. Anyway, thank you for visiting my home province James. I hope that I’ll be reading another travel narratives of yours about South Cotabato in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you master Lai. Soon, I’ll be revisiting these provinces again. 😊😊😊

      Like

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