Cotabato City

I'm thinking of visiting Cotabato City soon.

Obviously I've heard the horror stories and the blunt "Do not visit" warnings but I'm looking for something more substantial than that, preferably from someone who has actually been there.

Is it safe? Is it dangerous?

I intend to visit a friend of mine but stay in a hotel. I don't intend to go out of the city centre.

Am I crazy or is all the hype just that, hype?

(BTW, it's not my first visit to the Philippines and I've been to other so-called dangerous places like Quiapo city and Zamboanga)



is without any doubt the most dangerous city in all of the philippines. only sulu is more dangerous.

unemployment is the highest of any city in the phils. and so is crime.

on top of that it is the hideout for many terrorist organisations who plant bombs, abduct whoever has money to extort and cause unrest and more poverty.

still wanna go? hire 20 marines and a bullet proof, better granade-proof humvee. chances are that you will still get killed.

i have spent a lot of time in mindanao. no mentally sane person would ever go to cotabato.

the philippines is the only country in the world where even RED CROSS EMPLOYEES  get abducted. 

good luck


so once again we will hear of the power of p . will he go or not   anyone want to take bets on this guy going to cotobato all for the power of p if he was smart he would tell the freind to get there butt on as busd and meet him in digos it only cost a few pesos and is a heck of a lot safer but oh the temptation of it all POP is just yanking at you buddy . if you go you will be classified as realy not highly inteligent and we will just put it in the catagory of lost  in P>O>P



Thanks for your input Erator. Yeah, I'd like to take a bet on "this guy" (i.e. me) going. How much are you prepared to put up?

You're assuming that it's POP without knowing anything about me. And calling me "not smart" and "not highly intelligent" is rich coming from someone who can't spell or punctuate and clearly has trouble with basic English grammar.

For your information, I've met this girl lots of times and she has invited me to meet her family. So, it's not just for P, it's a lot more serious than that.

I take it you've never been to Cotabato city but you're quick to offer your opinion based on something you know very little about. I asked in my initial post for substantial input from people who had actually been there rather than from people who could just regurgitate the hype they read on the internet. I got the same reaction from people warning me not to go to Zamboanga; but I went, and I didn't see any sign of trouble. I'm trying to get some non-biased, informed opinions on Cotabato City.



I have never been in this

I have never been in this city and do not want to be there. I do not understand how local residents live there.

from eric taylor

 ok fair enouhg  and yes i have travelled to zambo . and other touns down south and you know what i wish i never went .. my body guards were killed the day i got there . and the rest of the trip was spent fully armed and attending funerals so ok . and it is obvious it is for POP so have fun be safe . as you stated it is to meet a partner and her familly. have fun . sorry about my grammer but i really dont care about my typing skilld never had to . you see im a 55 yo high school drop out in the tenth grade and very proud of the fact that i have made my fortunes enough to be living hear in the philippines and having the time of my life for the last four years . my little hotel i built in digos on the beach and my pedi cabs all four of them and my banana plantation keep mevery comfortable . amid al this organized kaos called the philippines . but where elses is better where i can still drive with out my seatbelt . and have a beer in public on the street with friends and my wife and be able to paint my house the color i want with out being sued or prosecuted for regular daily living not like other places namely the usa.. how about this thought where i an go shopping and say im sorry for bumping someonne and not get sued. or this is another one   i was watering my grass in my upscale neibor hood in the states and got sued for having my grass waterer missing the grass and got someone wet on the side walk  that cost me 28 thousand . or this a lady got out od her car my buissness and rebroke her ankle she broke 4 months earlier that cost me 80 k . or how about this where was i going to put the water off of my garage roof after i built it . that cost me 62k in law suit . or this 2.6 million to my ex wife in allimony . oh yes and 2 months inj ail for missing my 1765.00 a week paymnet toher . so oh yes that y im living hear nad travelled hear . and yes i go fully armed hear at all times in digos .so have fun be safe but rememeber there is no divorce in the philippines .... good luck travellor . we will enjoy hearing your story . most of us hear for anylenth of time enjoy hear of tales of pop .. oh also yes i have had my talkes of pop also . complete with butcher nife to my neck and groin . and she was supposed to marry me . but my ewife in the states got all my money and she didntt so there was nothing she could do but try ti killme ahter ber boyfriend doug got out of my house when i got back but oh well that is another story .. or how about this the next one   when i went o be with her familly after a few months and we were eating the pig her mom calls me asside and demands 10 k us from me for her daughter . now that was number 2 .so as far as the artisttry 

of the living in the philipines i even have more storys but the nice thing about living hear is when those things happen   unlike in the states they can be taken care of . with out the need of courts . so be smart and enjoy your trip to cotbato . be safe always all for the power of pop enjoy . looks like i will win the bet with my buddys hear . so much for 20o pesos . oh well thats about all a life is worht in cotobato any way 

well technically we don't know

I'd agree that while the odds do state that more often than not in the Philippines, that the underlying motivation is primal, it's not necessarily correct to assume that in Tony's case that it is his motivation.  It's also technically possible that the girl could be an excuse and that actually he is fascinated by danger, or by questioning conventional wisdom.

As for Mindanao specifically, Manfred did find this cool 2009 map of danger zones classified by the insurance industry.  If you really want to test the shadow side of human nature, how about Somalia?  For me personally I've only been once to Dipolog and the nearby countryside, never ventured further than that.  Never felt unsafe, and probably it's a fairly safe place in that immediate vicinity.  My suspicion based on what I've heard indirectly is that Mindanao, even its worst parts, are not worse than walking into the worst part of L.A. or Detroit.  However, I sure would not walk into the worst parts of either of those places, having learned my "give my your wallet" lesson in the humble metropolis of Little Rock, Arkansas on a hippie road trip in 1995 and had multiple reminders since then about human nature.

My gut feeling is that you'd have less than 10% risk of death in a week in Cotabato.  I know how much I enjoyed the part of my vacation last time it touched on one of the red zones (a train ride through the Muslim zone in south Thailand) - in short, I still feel nervous about it.  But it does make for interesting reading, so if you do go, we'll be sure to follow along vicariously if you'll allow us.

Cotabato City

You may want to visit this website regarding your inqiries for Cotabato City; , Living in Philippines.  They have American ex pats living/traveling all over the Philippines.


Take care and be safe,



Thanks everyone for your input, I still haven't decided.

I've asked other people and those that have never been there all tell me "Don't Go".

Ironically, those that actually have been there have told me it's safe, provided you take the normal precautions that I'd take in any city in The Philippines. One person even told me it's "Nice"....not too sure about that one....

So, I'm still considering but the recurring thought in my mind is Peter's "less than 10% chance of being killed" comment. I'm not sure I want to take that gamble just yet :-)


And Erator, no need to apologise about your grammer, I wouldn't have mentioned it but you called me "not smart" and "not highly intelligent" so I wan't going to let that go.

Thanks again.


from eric

 after reading all the threads and understanding your doubts i think you will make the right decision and if you go you will use extreme caution be safe always  eric

1st call center in cotabato


hey ur soooooooo mean!i live there!if ur coward then dont go there and forever hide under ur mother's skirt!


 I try not to be influenced by the media or embasseys writings but rather by common since and local perspectives. i have been all over mindanao including cotabato, sulu islands and tawi-tawi then on to borneo. i have stayed over a few days in each and was never threaten by anyone. i guess what i am saying i will not let myself be scared of living my life as i like. but i do not go into the deep jungle anywhere cause i do not like, even detroit.i already know my spelling and writing skills are not up to par...


how was your trip it hass been a while


i spent 3 years all together in bukidinon,mindanou. i learned its best not to insult any one, or have a outspoken opinion on any one uless its good. dont be surprised if they call you kano, my wife says thats disrespect. repect them even when none is given. you will be just fine.


your not WELCOME in that city...paranoid..

My trips to Cotabato

It's been a while since I've been into this site but I wanted to update this thread for the benefit of others who read it later.

Since I posted my initial question I've been to Cotabato City twice. I didn't need the marines or a bulllet-proof vest but I was very careful and my GF's (now my wife) family escorted me everywhere.

It's not the safest place in the world and I would not recommend that a foreigner walk around on his own. At best you could get robbed, at worse you'll get kidnapped. It's a very poor city in a poor region so people will do anything for money. If you need to go there make sure you have a local escort at all times.

I stayed at the El Manuel hotel. It's a very basic place that cost about P1000 per night. It has decent food and clean rooms and the staff are very nice. It's also got good security at the door.

Speaking of security, the city and surrounds are crawling with cops, army and special forces. There are roadblocks every 500 meters outside the city limit and lots of police stops within the city too. This should give you a feeling of comfort but the problem is you don't know who the good guys are there. Don't trust anyone.

So, to answer my initial's ok to go to Cotabato City but only if you really need to. There is nothing there to attract a tourist so give it a miss.


It's not dangerous for a

It's not dangerous for a foreigner if he knows families or friends  in the city. If you tend to wander in the honky tonks at night, then it is safe, but do not go alone, and walk by yourself so late.

If you want to see places, you can coordinate with the local government officials with your friends, then  they will be happy to take you around.

Cotabato City is a peaceful place,  the surrounding towns  of ARMM are not. There are many things to see too. The Lourdes Grotto, the Sultan Bolkiah mosque, among others. If you synchronize your visit during festivals, then it will be better.  Why do I know this? I live here.


yeah right ..not all places in cotabato is dngerous

Simple question

Why wanna leave money behind in places like this anyway? I have 9 stays in the Philippines since 2009. 

If a girl from the "wrong" place contact me on internet I am just polite to her and tell her that she is propably better off with finding someone more naive than what I am. Good luck!

 The Americans introduced new laws on land ownership in Philippines:

·       Public Act 718, issued on April 4, 1903, voided all property and acreage of Mindanao sultans unless these pieces of property had been recognized as the sultanates by the colonial government.

·       Public Act 926, issued on October 7, 1903, declared all unregistered land tracts as public domain and open for homestead.

·       Public Land Act of 1919, appropriated a maximum of 10 hectares in homestead lots to Muslim Filipinos, and 24 hectares lots to non-Muslim Filipinos. 

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