SOX should be next

You probably are wondering what the first three letters in the title of today’s column mean. It’s the “nickname” derived from the components of our country’s Region 12, SOCCSKSARGEN.

This administrative region in south-central Mindanao is composed of four provinces and two cities (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City). The region also includes the cities of Kidapawan, Koronadal, and Tacurong.

I have already featured the region here in my column a few years ago. However, the recent “Treasures of SOX Travel and Trade Expo” in Makati, spearheaded by Region 12 tourism director Maria Rica Bueno, led me to discover more of its “high-octane adventures” and “slices of unspoiled natural paradise,” certainly deserving another column feature.

So, what else is there to see and do in SOX? A whole lot more! Mariano’s Blooming Agri-Tourism Park in Tupi, South Cotabato has a whole field of giant sunflowers as far as your eyes can see. Another attraction for nature lovers is the Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City. It is home to approximately 20,000 bird species, including herons, egrets, glossy ibis, and others that are believed to have originated in Japan.

Paragliding in Sarangani province attracts adventure seekers all throughout the year
The majestic 800-feet Paniki Falls in Kidapawan is another “sight for sore eyes.” Its crystal clear water is further enhanced by the rich flora and fauna surrounding it. The area where the falls is, used to be a colony of bats, thus the name, but when visitors increased, the winged mammals moved away.

The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, more popularly known as The Grand Mosque, is the largest mosque in the country. Designed by internationally acclaimed Filipino architect Felino Palafox at a cost of US$45 million, the magnificent structure occupies 5,000 square meters of a five-hectare land. It has four minarets towering at a height of 43 meters, and the mosque can accommodate 1,200 worshippers at any given time.

For those itching for adventure, there is world-class Paragliding at the SAFI Ranch in Maasim, Sarangani province, which will make you “fly” and enjoy the breathtaking view of Sarangani Bay and General Santos City. This extreme sport can be done 300 days of the year and the site ensures a smooth take-off, pleasant wind conditions, and a perfect flat landing spot.

The field of giant sunflowers in Mariano’s Agri-Tourism Park in Tupi, South Cotabato
And for those who go for the “rough and tumble” kind of adventure, there is White Water Tubing along the 1.6-kilometer Pangi River in Maitum, Sarangani. For only P150, you will be provided with a life vest, a helmet, a river guide, and your ultimate gear—the inflated interior tube of a big tire. To start, you walk or ride a horse upstream, then the guide will set you down on a narrow part of the river for the all-important briefing. The wild ride downstream goes over rocks and white water, but there’s nothing to be afraid of as the guide will be with you on the tube at all times.

For tranquility and a “slice of heaven,” there is Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, an important watershed that irrigates the province and Sultan Kudarat. This is where the colorful T’boli tribe comes from. The tribe has claimed the lake and its surroundings as its ancestral domain. The Department of Tourism promotes Lake Sebu as one of the prime eco-tourism destinations in the country.

But, of course, adventure-seekers have added an exciting dimension to the otherwise serene destination. The zipline that goes over Lake Sebu’s seven waterfalls is the highest in Asia. “Flying” over 180 meters high, the adrenaline-pumping ride will zoom you over the various falls, and is guaranteed to give you the ride-of-a-lifetime.

I could go on and on and on about the many other exciting attractions in Region 12, but I’ll give you the chance to discover the others on your own. One thing I know for sure, SOX will be my next leisure destination.

For feedback, I’m at [email protected]

Topics: Treasures of SOX Travel and Trade Expo , SOX , Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque , Maria Rica Bueno
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