We fear what do not know, but it also makes us curious. The day I landed at Amang Airport in Cotabato City, there was a feeling of anxiety and at the same time, excitement.
I was lucky enough to have been approached by a nice local guy from the same plane who led me to a nice hotel, Al Nor. We took a tricycle (Php10 each passenger) from the airport to get out to the main road, then take another jeepney ride (P12) to the hotel.
7:00am. I reached the hotel too early and the check-in time is 2pm, so I decided to leave my backpack, took out my camera and headed all the way straight to the biggest mosque in the Philippines, the Grand Mosque.
The hotel is about 7 minutes from husky terminal by jeepney. Rent a habal-habal (tandem motorbike) for PhP80 round trip including waiting time between 1-2 hours. The road is mostly paved so it was a smooth ride.
You’ll get there in 15 minutes. The place is quite isolated with the mountains and the sky as its background.
Located at Barangay Kalanganan, the mosque was funded by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam. It sits on a 5,000 sq. m. near the Tamontaka River. It was completed in 2011 and now a landmark for Cotabato City.
As with many prominent mosques, you will first notice the bulbous roofs with the crescent moons. I do like the yellow colour contrasting very well against the blue sky.
There are four minarets at 43 meters high. Minarets were later architectural addition to mosques, it had no religious purpose. Historically, it was used for adhan or the calling to pray.
There are two courtyards on each side where Muslims meet and covered walkways for protection on sun and rain. Some countries are strict on attire, shorts are not allowed and all footwear have to be left outside the mosque.
The mosque is less extravagant when compared to the mosques I’ve seen in the Middle East or other countries with their intricate details and decorations, expensive marbles and glittering crystal chandeliers. However, the place provides a very serene environment, simple yet majestic, for our Muslims brothers in the practice of their faith.
Blue Crab says…
1. Be mindful of local custom and tradition: No slippers! Shorts are not allowed in some countries.
2. Visit the quibla wall inside the main hall.
3. Al Nor Hotel is part of a new mix development in Cotabato but it is about 10 minutes away from downtown by jeep. The area is much quiet so you may want to explore the chaotic (in a fun way) side of the city. (Thank you to all the very friendly staff of Al Nor Hotel! Also for letting me checked-in early to get a much needed rest :))
Expenses: PhP1,308 ($US 30)
1. 900 – per night hotel accommodation. I stayed one night only. Breakfast is included.
2. 8 – jeepney fare from hotel which is on the main road to husky terminal.
3. 100 – habal-habal (tandem motorbike) with return trip with additional tip for waiting.
4. 50 - additional fare as I asked the driver to bring me back straight to the hotel. I didn’t mind giving a bit more just to help the guy a little bit and besides I like riding on a bike. You have an option to take the jeepney back to hotel for 8 pesos.
5. Free - entrance to mosque.
6. 250 – food, etc.