by JR Lopez Gonzales of Iligan City (3rd Place – 1st City of Tacurong Feature Writing Contest)
The bus revved off again to my destination, Cagayan de Oro. From the Tacurong Bus Terminal, peering out the window I saw the cityscape: the Notre Dame of Tacurong, Tacurong Fit Mart, and the city’s roundball (rotunda) where the giant salakot (traditional wide-rimmed hat) rests. I watched these entire images whirred pass the window of the Rural Transit bus just like the images from the television. It will be a long eight-hour trip again to CDO and Tacurong City is my take-off point.
I am not a Tacurongnon. I am a student in Iligan City born and raised in Sultan Kudarat’s neighboring province of South Cotabato. But for more than seven years of constantly going back and forth to South Cotabato and Cagayan de Oro (the last stop before going to Iligan City), and growing up in the Southern part of the Philippines, I’ve got to say that I had a decent number of enjoyed moments in this wonderful city.
You see, my father is from Sultan Kudarat; he was born and raised in Isulan. While it is true that I am not able to enjoy the City as much as I did when I was younger, this mid-sized city is rich with happy memories that I always cherish.
The City of Tacurong is located in the center of Mindanao and lies at the crossroads of the Davao-General Santos-Cotabato highways. As a strategic center for Mindanao transport, Tacurong City is often visited by tourists, passengers, and transients on their way to various cities. As mentioned, my eight-hour trip to Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental starts at its Tacurong Bus Terminal.
Tacurong became the first city in the Province of Sultan Kudarat through the signing of the Republic Act 8805 on September 18, 2000 by former President Estrada. Checking the Internet for backgrounders, I’ve discovered that the word talakudong refers to the Maguindanon word for “head covering which was worn by most of the early settlers and people in the area”. And from the oral passing of the name, it evolved to “Tacurong”, as what the place is known now.
More than its vital role as the host of the transport network for land travel in the island, the city is one of the most competitive cities in the Mindanao Area owing its revenues from the large plantations of agricultural products mainly, the African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis). The versatile oil palm is shipped to Manila to be used in a lot of things including plastics, soap, and for other chemical uses. According to the website Local Philippines, its annual yield is 22,980 metric tons on 1,034 hectares planted. That sure is a lot!
The other main industry found in the city is rice and corn milling and trading. As proof to its bustling agricultural economy, nineteen (19) medium to large scale rice mills operating thirty units and two corn mills operating three units in the locality including the giant National Food Authority-Southern Philippines Grains Complex (NFA-SPGC) silo (Mechanical Drier) and rice mill, which is one of the biggest grains facilities in Asia.
People from neighboring towns (with people from Isulan included) actually travel to Tacurong City to sell their products or purchase their needs at the affordable shopping establishments. Sometimes when we travel from Isulan riding on a skylab (motorbikes with extended seats), the vast and sturdy African Oil Palm plantations often greets us along the highway.
The city’s thriving economy is also witness to the sprouting educational institutions (primary to tertiary), banking, accommodations, and medical facilities. On the other hand, food tripping is also a good idea when you visit this city of predominantly melodious Ilonggo speakers. While there are a lot of restaurants around the city premises, a special heads-up from me would be, eating out at VE-JR Aqua Farm Ihaw-Ihaw sa Exit; their deep-fired African catfish (locally know as hitô) is very delicious!
Still to be known to the rest of the country, a handful of Tacurong City’s tourist spots should be on everyone’s travel list. Worth mentioning is the Baras Bird Sanctuary at Purok San Francisco in Barangay Baras, which is a natural haven to thousands of Black Crowned Night Herons and Cattle Egrets. This spectacular natural habit was inaugurated in 2002, which covers nearly two hectares housing about 10,000 bird species.
Tacurong is not an exception to the Filipinos’ predilection to festivities. The city celebrates its “Talakudong Festival” every year to the delight of tourists (domestic and foreign tourists, alike). Its festival lasts about a month replete of various enjoyments. A multitude of trade fairs, plant shows, bicycle tours, various art contests, singing contests, dance competitions, sportsfests, and other fun-filled activities are held on this wonderful season (now on its 10th year) with the highly-anticipated, “Mutya ng Tacurong” Pageant Night as its main attraction.
But aside from the joys of the various events, the most important factor any city can have is its people. Amazing enough, despite the diversity of its peoples: the Christian settlers, Maguindanons, and the indigents, the city is known for its kindness. From the bus terminal, to the tourism office, up to the clerks of its establishments, the Tacurongnons are one of the friendliest people I know. A smile from even the lowly worker is enough to make you feel at ease.
And as I recollect my visits to Tacurong, I was actually amazed on how fast the city has progressed from its humble beginning as a sleepy town in 2000. Time has proven to change most things; but the city’s accommodating spirit from the time I was a strolling little kid up to now is very laudable. Indeed, Tacurong City is rightfully called as, “The City of Goodwill”.
 Local Philippines website. “Tacurong City”. http://www.localphilippines.com/destinations/tacurong_city (19 September 2012).
 Local Philippines website. “Baras Bird Sanctuary”. http://www.localphilippines.com/attractions/8139/baras-bird-sanctuary (19 September 2012).