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South Mindanao's Allah Valley Tour | A Prelude to Extreme Adventure








The word dangerous has been tagged  with  the Island of Mindanao and has been sensationalized by the tri-media, creating lots of negative impressions about the island which results to the establishment of paranoia for those who have no idea about Mindanao. This part of the Philippines had been stereotyped with unstable security due to some political issues in the ARMM and has placed the tourism industry of the whole region in peril. 

Months ago, my heart literally broke after I learned that I will be transferring to Makati coming from Surigao del Sur for a transition period of our company .  For the longest period of time, I have been promoting the tourism potential of Mindanao as a form of individual advocacy. After I have decided to end the tenure from my job in Mindanao, it made a great impact and depression on me, thinking that it was the end of my advocacy for Mindanao. 

AVLDA & LGSP-LED  Links the Bridge

I have never thought that I will be returning very soon to my beloved island after I received an invitation from the AVLDA & LGSP-LED through Mr. Alfred “Red” Allaga for a Familiarization Tour in Allah Valley, encompassing  South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.  Sacrificing some commitments with some organizations, I found myself packing my bag heading to the NAIA Terminal 3 bound for General Santos City.

I arrived in General Santos City a day early based on the actual itinerary so I decided to join the travel writer Edgar Alan Zeta Yap for a SCUBA diving adventure in Lemlunay Resort in Sarangani Province. 

Edgar and I were both recipient of OpenWater Diving License sponsored by Mr. Johann Jake Miranda, operator of Punta Bilar Dive Shop in Surigao City and accredited by Scuba Diving International (SDI).

The SCUBA diving adventure in Saranggani made me appreciate more the beauty of the Philippine marine resources that were barely given protection in this part of the country. I just hope that the local government, promote this educational sport not only to the locals but internationally as it possesses huge potential for tourism.

ALLAH VALLEY TOUR 2013

The day of my excitement came when the invited guests coming both from “print media” and Philippine Travel Bloggers joined together with the objective of discovering and promoting the tourism in South Central Mindanao.

The Allah Valley Tour was organized by the LGSP-LED & AVLDA, a collaborative effort of the local government of South Cotabato and its NGO partner and private establishments to disseminate the information about the emerging tourism in the region.

Headed by the Lady Governor of South Cotabato, Daisy Avance-Fuentes and the executive officers and staff of LGSP-LED, the objective of this media aggregation was explained to all the participants in one of the surprisingly existing resort and accommodation, The Farm at the Carpenter Hill.


South Cotabato is a province that has been poorly promoted in terms of tourism destination. But behind its silence, this sleeping giant can actually overrun the other established Philippine tourist destinations when it comes to untainted tourism spots in Mindanao and the outcome of our Allah Valley Tour is a proof of its tourism potential.

Here are the 10 things we did during the Allah Valley Tour 2013

1. A Visit to Kalsangi Club House, Polomolok , South Cotabato
 
Kalsangi Club House is an exclusive place supposedly for the executives and personel of Dole Philippines, one of the biggest producer of pineapple, papaya and banana in the world.


Lois Yasay modeling for Dole Pineapple: We Are "Dole" Sisters ?

2. The Tri-People Monument in Surallah, South Cotabato
 
Kublai Millan is one of the treasured artists from Mindanao that have created some of the most noted sculptures displayed publicly in the Philippines. The giant sculptures by Kublai in Surallah is more that just art as it depicts the uniqueness of South Cotabato particularly its diverse cultures, traditions and religions.


Quirkie pose with Edgar Yap at Surallah Tri-Monument

3. Discovering Lake Holon, the Crater Lake of Mt. Melibingoy (Mt. Parker)
 
Lake Holon  is a place that must be ticked out of your bucket list. The lake is the perfect epitome for peace , beauty and magic. It is situated in the crater of Mt. Melibingoy, T’boli , South Cotabato.


Me and  Louie Pacardo's Zombo at Lake Holon, Mt. Melibingoy (Parker)

4. Lake Tour in Lake Sebu
 
If South Cotabato is a music album, Lake Sebu must be its carrier single. It is the most popular place in the province with their finest tilapia grown in the lake.


Scenic Lake Sebu

5. Zip Line Adventures in Lake Sebu
 
Your adventure to Lake Sebu wouldn’t be complete without visiting the magnificent  seven falls. What better way to enjoy the waterfalls by clinging from a zip line, overlooking the raging but beautiful waterfalls below.


I tried to calm down while doing this zip line. Isn't obvious?

6. Face to Face with Be Lang Dulay: The Dream Weaver of T’nalak
 
Weaving is a tradition in many ethnic tribes in the Philippines but T’nalak must be the ultimate pride of the Philippines and superstar of Philippine fabrics. T'nalak created by the dream weavers of Lake Sebu.  Having a close encounter with the living treasure and national artist, Be Lang Dulay herself, the last original dream weaver is a surreal experience. She is now teaching other women in their tribe the art of T'nalak to preserve their culture.

Finally met Be Lang Dulay! How are you madam?

7. Dipping into the Hot and Cold Spring in Sultan Kudarat
 
If your having a tired and soled feet roaming around South Cotabato, it is best pampered dipping into the Hot and Cold Spring of  Esperanza in Sultan Kudarat not far from its grand Capitol in Isulan.


I like the hot spring than the cold spring 

8. Wild Encounter with the Migratory Birds of Baras, Tacurong City
 
If your experience of encountering wildlife is just through clicking the remote control to Animal Planet, better visit the Bird Sanctuary of Baras situated not far from Tacurong City. There you will see the shifting of the nocturnal and diurnal different species of herons  found in the same habitat. 


This nocturnal heron is trying to  keep awake during day time 

9. Street Dancing during the T’nalak Festival
 
The grand exhibit of diverse traditions and cultures of the province of South Cotabato can be summarized during the display of their street dance parade of the T’nalak Festival. The beating drums and seemingly never ending cheerful street parade will lighten up your day, dancing to the ethnic rhythms while feasting your eyes on colorful and traditional costumes.


Party time ....

10. Shopping for indigenous products by the T’boli
 
Never leave South Cotabato without taking some remembrance. Prices are just and most of the authentic novelties from the tribes are worth buying with emphasis on the sought after T’nalak fabric coming  from the workshop area of Be Lang Dulay, the Dream Weaver of T'nalak.


Am a fan of their crafts and fabrics.


To Our Partners:

Our sincerest thanks to the following organizations and  private partners for welcoming us and giving us the opportunity to discover the wonders of Allah Valley.

A. AVLDA &LGSP-LED, for organizing and funding the event through the efforts of their executives and ground personnel and to the government head of South Cotabato, Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes

B. The Farm @Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City, for the accommodation and sumptuous food served upon our arrival.

C. The artisans and people of  Brgy. Lem Snolon for the demonstration of their unique tribal arts.

D. The Head of T'boli, Mayor Dibu Tuan and the Local Tourism Officers for welcoming us in their municipality and the orientation about Lake Holon

E.. The Monte Cielo Resort, for an overflowing food served for our lunch after our tiring trek.

F. The LGU of Esperanza,Sultan Kudarat for accommodating us in their Hot and Cold Spring Resort.

G. The Province of Sultan Kudarat for the accommodation at The Governor's Palace .

H.The Mountain Lake Resort in Lake Sebu for the accommodation and lake tour.

I. The Head of Tacurong City, Mayor Lina Montilla, for the warm welcome and effort to promote awareness on environmental protection particularly the Bird Sanctuary in Baras.

J. Pinoy Travel Bloggers James, Yoshke, Gay, Gaile, Lois, Edgar and Louie for making this tour worth remembering.

SALAMAT KAAU!



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