South Cotabato and Sarangani are two provinces that are quickly gaining popularity as tourist destinations, despite the difficult-to-shake reputation for danger that plagues many areas of Mindanao. Most famously known for producing Dole pineapples, fresh tuna, and boxing giant Manny Pacquiao (who also serves as congressman for the young province of Sarangani), this area seems to be more recognized for its exports, though that is now changing, thanks to the government's concerted efforts to promote its hidden treasures.
We were lucky enough to be part one such initiative, a Basta Pinas, Biyahe Tayo! familiarization tour focused on General Santos City, Lake Sebu, and the beaches of Glan in Sarangani. Aptly themed the "Secrets of South Cotabato and Sarangani," our three-day, two-night trip revealed a rich land with modern infrastructure, dramatic landscapes, and a people tenaciously clinging to enduring tribal practices.