ARMM: The Islamic State
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is home to five provinces and two cities in Mindanao. These provinces include Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Maguindanao while the cities are namely Marawi (in Lanao del Sur) and Lamitan (in Basilan). Being the only region that has its own government, it has its separate set of officers with different functions.
For example, the Head of the State/ Territory has the authority of the region the way the president of the Republic of the Philippines has authority over the country. However, their judiciary and legal supervision or prosecution remain under the Philippine Government.
Official languages used in the region include Banguingui, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, Zamboangueno and many others.
ARMM being a region near the seas is home to many natural resources particularly a wide variety of fishes and seaweeds. Aside from natural resources from the sea, the region is also known for its large mineral deposits, particularly of gold and copper, making them one of the sought regions in the industry of mining.
The Native Maguindanaoan take pride in the kulintang, one part of their cultural heritage. The kulintang is a musical instrument which is a type of gong used for performances of native dances in the southern parts of the Philippines.
CARAGA: The Land of Brave and Fierce People
The Caraga Region is situated in the northeastern section of Mindanao. This region is composed of five provinces namely Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands — as well as the six cities namely Surigao City, Bayugan City, Cabadbaran City, Bislig City and Tandag City, with Butuan City as the regional administrative center.
“The name of this region derived from the native word Kalag, meaning “Spirit of Soul”.
Caraga is characterized by flat and rolling lands as well as large mountainous areas, aside from being close to the seas of the eastern part of the Philippines. Given this topography, Caraga is home to many natural resources, most noted for its wood-based and mining industries. This region also leads in the production of crops such as calamansi, mangoes, rice, banana, coconut and oil palm.
The region is home to many beaches, evergreen forests as well as hot and cold springs, which have attracted many tourists and thus, becoming a source of income for most residents in the area. The mountain areas also pave way for many trekkers and hikers alike to flock to this region for a one-of-a-kind adventure and a wonderful view. It is also popular for having caves, coves, enchanted river, surfing spots which tourists flock to visit.
Davao Region: From Islands to Highlands
Davao Region is situated in the southeastern part of Mindanao. The region is home to four provinces: Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao Occidental; and six cities namely: Tagum City, Garden City of Samal, Panabo City, Mati City and Digos City with Davao City as the regional center.
Being the most populous region in Mindanao, residents are of various faith, with most of them following the Christian doctrine (Roman Catholic), Islam, Buddhist and Shintoist. The people use a wide variety of languages and dialects — most of which use Cebuano, while there are quite a few others who are speakers of Davaoenyo, Hiligaynon, Manobo, Waray, Mandaya and even Tagalog.
Topographically speaking, Davao region is surrounded by the Davao Gulf in its eastern part and composed of many forests which are home to many diverse creatures such as the Philippine eagle and there are also spots which many local and foreign tourists visit. The region is known for the durian fruit, which had become their trademark and had produced income for many residents of the area due to its demand from both local and foreign visitors.
It is now developing into a center for agro-industrial business, trade, and tourism. Both private and foreign investors are putting up huge business centers in the region, fuelling up its economic growth rate. Davao region is also known as the “banana capital”, given that they produce about 76% of the Philippines’ banana crops.
Northern Mindanao: The Major Gateway and Transshipment Hub in Mindanao
Located in the north central part of Mindanao, Northern Mindanao is composed of five provinces: Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon; and a total of nine cities: Valencia, Malaybalay, Iligan, Ozamiz, Oroquieta, Tangub, El Salvador and Gingoog with Cagayan de Oro as the regional hub. It has a strategic location which is why it serves as the gateway to and from the rest of Mindanao with Zamboanga Peninsula in the west, Caraga Region in the east and the rest of the region in the south.
Its topography is a combination of plains, rolling hills, mountains and coastal areas with rich soil, abundant minerals, and agricultural resources — one that is used to plant and culture crops native to the region. It is also known for producing numerous export-quality crops, including pineapple and lanzones.
With its abundant water resources, it has shelter hydroelectric power plants, which are great sources of Mindanao’s bulk of power. Rich in cultural heritage, they have numerous festivals — one of which is the Kaamulan Festival in Bukidnon, Lanzones Festival in Camiguin and Higalaay Festival that highlights the friendliness and warmth of Kagay-anons, and many others. Its modern port facilities and extensive road networks linking it to various parts of the Mindanao region makes it an ideal destination for trading and tourism all year round.
Soccsksargen: The Emerging Paradise of the South
Soccsksargen is an acronym that stands for the region’s four provinces and one of its cities: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City. It comprises five cities namely: Kidapawan City, Cotabato City, Tacurong City with Koronadal City as the regional center and General Santos as the center of commerce, industry, transportation and the most populous city and popularly known as the “tuna capital” of the Philippines. For this reason, it was included in the coined name for the region where it belongs. SOX is the region’s nickname that is intended for marketing promotions and easy recall.
It is located near the sea that surrounds the southern part of the Philippines. The region is the catch basin of Mindanao with extensive coastlines, valleys and mountain ranges. Within the basin runs the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the longest river in Mindanao and the second longest in the Philippines. Southeast of the mountains lies the Sarangani Bay that takes pride of a long stretch of powdery white sand beaches of Gumasa, said to be the Boracay of the South.
Given its location and the climate, the soil in this region is suitable to grow crops and livestock. Aside from their crops, they also grow, produce and sell good quality of wood. The region is also home to many light manufacturing plants and processing facilities, which also contribute to their economy.
Zamboanga Peninsula: The Awakening Giant
Zamboanga Peninsula shelters three provinces namely: Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur. It includes two independent cities: Isabela City and Zamboanga City; and three other cities: Dapitan, Dipolog with Pagadian as the regional center. About a third of the Peninsula’s population is made up of ethnic communities that give the region its unique culture and color while roughly half of the population speaks Chavacano, a dialect heavily influenced by Spanish settlers.
The provinces in the region are bounded by bodies of water, which forms a ring around it; the Sulu Sea to the north and west and the Moro Gulf to the south. Farming and fishing are the main sources of income in the region. Their proximity to the sea also gives them a gateway to the riches of both seawater and freshwater.
Zamboanga Peninsula is also home to many processing plants — which add up to their income– such as oil-processing plants, coffee berry processing plants as well as latex processing plants which produce rubber.
Magnificent views and historical places are rich in this part of Mindanao, generating income through tourism. Despite the economic setback for the past decades, Zamboanga Peninsula manages to shine out on its own sharing a common heritage that is distinctive of the Peninsula — a region bountiful in beauty, history, and culture, blessed by nature, rich in its wealth, cherished by its people.