Its a celebration like no other. Far from the blaring sounds and the deafening drum beats im so used to during Festivals. It was my first ever experience of the Eid’l Fitr or the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.
I received a message through my Facebook messenger telling me to fly to Cotabato the next day for a media event. I was clueless.
It was only when I checked in at Al Nor Business Hotel that I learned that there will be a Halal Goodness Culinary Tour.
The event, first of its kind, was organized by the Department of Tourism RegionXII and the City of Cotabato.
Weird as it may seem, Cotabato City is actually part of Region 12 collectively known as the SOCCSKSARGEN region but the regional center and Administrative hub of the ARMM region is also located in this city.
During the first day, there was a press conference and media briefing on what’s going to happen and what to expect. The presscon was headed by DOT XII Regional Director Nelly Nita Dillera and Cotabato City Tourism Officer Miss Gurlie Frondoza.
The Halal Goodness Culinary Tour is more than just a feast for the palate, it is an introduction for us on the local Islamic culture. Through the tour we were able to get a glimpse of how the Maranao, the Iranun and the Maguindanao people living in Cotabato City celebrate the grandest Islamic feast.
After the press conference we then headed to the People’s Palace where the Takbir prayers are recited by men.
After the takbir, just in time for the last sunset of Ramadan foods were served. We had preserved dates overflowing the table, dates are staple during the Eid feast.
We also had the traditional Maguindanao foods like the Beef Sinina tinagtag and dudol.
We also got to visit the ARMM Complex – ORG to check out the different tribal villages.
There was this distinct air of joy you get to feel when inside the ARMM Complex. The whole area is filled with locals enjoying their picnic snacks and dinner while young kids are having a good time at the play area.
Our first destination at the Tribal Village is the Iranun Village. Iranun are people mostly living in Parang Maguindanao.
We had the traditional Iranun feast known as “Pagana”. Pagana is usually served during special occasions like the Eid holiday.
We had arroz caldo, tinagtag and other local delicacies. Tinagtag is a popular snack common in Cotabato City it is made of rice but looks likesotanghon rolled like a wafer stick. It is lightly sweetened and a perfect pair for locally brewed coffee.
There were a lot of people going in a d out of thr village. Young visitors also also enjoying playing the traditional Muslim instruments like the kulintang, debakan and gong.
From the Iranun Village we then moved to the Maguindanao Village. The area is bedecked with coloful banners or locally known as lemba siganlling the joyous occasion. There was also a variety program held when we went there. We also got to check out one of the traditional Maguindanao houses with four-poster bed complete With all the decors fit for a royalty.
Our next destination is the Sama Village. The Sama-Badjao are k own to be the sea dwelling people living in Tawi – tawi.
There was also a program held at the Sama Village and a photo exhibit showcasing the rich culture of the Sama people.
From the Sama Village we continued our hopping spree with the Yakan Village. The Yakan people are known to be the inhabitants of the Basilan province. Quite a number of Yakan people also live along the coastal areas of Zamboanga City.
Yakan people is known for its colorful handwoven fabric with symmetrical and geometric patterns. Their creations are among the favored textile of choice for table Runners and handbags.
It ws already getting late and we have a 3am call time the following day so we decided to end our tour and return to the hotel.