Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)  is the region, located in the Mindanao island group of the Philippines, that is composed of predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It is the only region that has its own government. The regional capital is at Cotabato City, although this city is outside of its jurisdiction.

The ARMM previously included the province of Shariff Kabunsuan until July 16, 2008, when Shariff Kabunsuan ceased to exist as a province after the Supreme Court in Sema v. Comelec declared unconstitutional the “Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act 201”, which created it.

Regional center: Cotabato City

Area: Total 26,974 km2 (10,414.7 sq mi)

Population (2007):

  • Total 4,120,795
  • Density 152.8/km2 (395.7/sq mi)

Time zone: PST (UTC+8)

Provinces: 5

Cities: 2

Municipalities: 113

Barangays: 2,470

Cong. districts: 8

Languages: Banguingui, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, Sama, others

Political Divisions

Province / Capital / Population(2000) / Area(km²)

  •  Basilan /Isabela City / 408,520 / 1,994.1
  • Lanao del Sur / Marawi City / 1,138,544 / 12,051.9
  • Maguindanao / Shariff Aguak / 1,273,715 / 7,142.0
  • Sulu / Jolo / 849,670 / 2,135.3
  • Tawi-Tawi / Bongao / 450,346 / 3,426.6
  • Figures exclude Isabela City.
  • Rejected inclusion into the ARMM, still part of the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
  • Figures exclude the independent component city of Cotabato.
  • Land area figures taken from the Department of Budget and Management’s 2008 IRA computation documents.Population figures taken from the National Statistics Office’s 2007 Census of Population results.

Cultural Heritage

The native Maguindanaon and other native Muslim/non-Muslim groups have a culture that revolves around kulintang music, a specific type of gong music, found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines. Apart from dance the criollo-mestizos Spanish dances and song are part of Maguindanao traditional culture.

ARMM powers and basic principles

RA 9054 provides that ARMM “shall remain an integral and inseparable part of the national territory of the Republic.” The President exercises general supervision over the Regional Governor. The Regional Government has the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees, and charges, subject to Constitutional provisions and the provisions of RA 9054. The Shariah applies only to Muslims; its applications are limited by pertinent constitutional provisions (prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment).


Caraga (Region XIII)

Caraga (Region XIII) is the newest region of the Philippines, also designated as Region XIII. Region XIII, the Caraga Administrative Region or the Caraga Region was created through Republic Act Number 7901 as approved by President Fidel V. Ramos on February 25, 1995. 

Regional center: Butuan City

Total Area: 21,471 km2 (8,290 sq mi)

Population (2007)

  • Total: 2,293,480
  • Density: 106.8/km2 (276.7/sq mi)

Time zone: PST (UTC+8)

Provinces: 5

Cities: 6

Municipalities: 70

Barangays: 1,310

Cong. districts: 7

Languages: Surigaonon, Cebuano, Butuanon, Manobo, other minority langauges


  1. Bayugan
  2. Butuan
  3. Cabadbaran
  4. Surigao
  5. Tandag
  6. Bislig


  1. Agusan del Norte
  2. Agusan del Sur
  3. Surigao del Norte
  4. Surigao del Sur
  5. Dinagat Islands
    1. Dinagat Islands had been a part of the First District of Surigao del Norte Province until becoming a province on its own on December 2, 2006 with the approval of Republic Act No. 9355, the Charter of the Province of Dinagat Islands, in a plebiscite.On February 11, 2010 the Supreme Court of the Philippines declared the creation of Dinagat Islands Province null and void on grounds of failure to meet land area and population requirements for the creation of local government units. Dinagat Islands then reverted to Surigao del Norte Province. On March 30, 2011, however, the Supreme Court reversed its ruling from the previous year, and upheld the constitutionality of RA 9355 and the creation of Dinagat Islands as a province.

Political divisions

Province(City) / Capital / Population(2007) / Area(km²) 

  • Agusan del Norte / Cabadbaran City / 285,570 / 1,773.2
  • Agusan del Sur / Prosperidad / 559,294 / 8,966.0
  • Surigao del Norte / Surigao City / 481,416 / 1,936.9
  • Surigao del Sur / Tandag City / 501,808 /4,552.2
  • Butuan City / — / 307,942 (2009) / 817.3

Butuan City is a highly urbanized city; figures  are excluded from Agusan del Norte.


The history of Caraga can be traced back to the 15th century when explorers discovered the existence of “Kalagans”, believed to be of Visayan Origin in one of the three districts in Mindanao. The word Caraga originated from the Visayan word “Kalagan”: “Kalag” meaning soul or people and “An” meaning land. The “Kalagans have a long history of being brave and fearless. Thus, the region was called by early chroniclers as the “Land of the Brave and Fierce People”. The “Kalagans”, called “Caragans” by the Spaniards occupied the district composed of the two provinces of Surigao, northern part of Davao Oriental and Eastern Misamis Oriental. The two Agusan Provinces were later organized under the administrative jurisdiction of Surigao and became the independent Agusan province in 1914. In 1960, Surigao was divided as Norte and Sur, and in June 1967, Agusan followed suit. While Butuan then was just a town of Agusan, the logging boom in 1950’s drew business and businessmen to the area. On August 2, 1950, by virtue of Republic Act 523, the City Charter of Butuan was approved .


SOCCSKSARGEN  (pronounced [sokˈsardʒɛn] ) is a region of thePhilippines, located in central Mindanao, and is officially designated as Region XII.

The name 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.

The regional center is Koronadal City located in the province of South Cotabato.  Cotabato City, though geographically within the boundaries of the province of Maguindanao, itself is part of SOCCSKSARGEN, and is independent of that province. Maguindanao province is a part of another special region called the ARMM which has its seat in Cotabato City. SOCCSKSARGEN and the province of Maguindanao were once part of the original Cotabato province.

Island group: Mindanao

Regional center: Koronadal City, South Cotabato

Total Area: 22,466 km2 (8,674.2 sq mi)

Population (2007)

  • Total: 3,829,081
  • Density: 170.4/km2 (441.4/sq mi)

Time zone: PST (UTC+8)

Provinces: 4

Cities: 5

Municipalities: 45

Barangays: 1,194

Cong. districts: 6

Languages: English, Tagalog, HIligaynon, Cebuano, Tboli, Blaan, Cotabato Manobo, Tagabanwa, others


The region has extensive coastlines, valleys and mountain ranges. Known for its river system, the region is the catch basin of Mindanao. The system is a rich source of food, potable water and energy production. Cotabato contains the Rio Grande de Mindanao, which is the longest river in Mindanao and the second longest in the Philippines.

The region used to be named kudaan. Prior to the creation of theAutonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, these provinces comprised the region:

  • Maguindanao
  • North Cotabato
  • Sultan Kudarat

With the creation of ARMM, Lanao del Sur (excluding Marawi City) and Maguindanao (excluding Cotabato City) were removed from the region, leaving Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, and Marawi City and Cotabato City as constituent provinces and cities. Lanao del Norte was later transferred to Northern Mindanao, while Marawi City became part of the ARMM.

With the addition of South Cotabato and Sarangani, transferred fromSouthern Mindanao, the region was renamed as SOCCSKSARGEN. The “Central Mindanao” name lives on as a description to the provinces populated by Muslim Filipinos.

Political Divisions

Province(City) / Capital / Population(2000) / Area(km²) 

  • Cotabato / Kidapawan City / 958,643 / 6,565.9
  • Sarangani / Alabel / 410,622 / 2,980.0
  • South Cotabato / Koronadal City / 690,728 / 3,996.1
  • Sultan Kudarat / Isulan / 586,505 / 4,714.8
  • Cotabato City / — / 163,849 / 175.99
  • General Santos City / — / 411,822 / 492.86

Cotabato City is independent of Maguindanao province, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The seat of the ARMM regional government is also in Cotabato City.

General Santos City is a highly urbanized city; figures are excluded from South Cotabato.


SOCCSKSARGEN has 3 components cities, 1 independent city and 1 highly urbanized city, these cities are vital in the region’s existence.

Cotabato City – is the regional center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but the city is actually part of the SOCCSKSARGEN region and does not belong to the ARMM.

General Santos City – dubbed as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” because of the bountiful existence of Yellow fin Tuna in Sarangani Bay,and as the Highly-Urbanized City it serves as the center of the Metropolitan and the center of trade and industry of SOCCSKARGEN.

Kidapawan City – Kidapawan, the city hailed as “A Spring in the Highland”, comes from the words “TIDA” which means spring and “PAWAN” meaning highland. The city is found at the bottom of the majestic Mt. Apo, the country’s tallest mountain making it a great spot and first-rate tourist attraction. Kidapawan is situated at the southeastern section of Cotabato province, placed in the middle of three other major cities of Davao, Cotabato, General Santos and Koronadal

Koronadal City – a.k.a. Marbel is dubbed as the “Sports Mecca of the South” because of hosting 2 Palarong Pambansa, National Secondary Press Conference and the Mindanao Business Conference, It is the Regional Center of SOCCSKSARGEN

Tacurong City – is the only city of Sultan Kudarat and it is famous of its Bird Sanctuary.

For SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII) Famous Tourist Attractions click here

SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII) Famous Tourist Attraction

Mt. Apo in Kidapawan City – Several trails lead to the summit, coming from Kidapawan, North Cotabato. An average hike requires 2–4 days. Various sights include Lake Venado, one of the highest lakes in the Philippines, and the old crater of Mt. Apo near its summit. In the classification system used by local popular mountaineering website, the difficulty of the hike is 7 out of 9. The mountain may be climbed year-round.

Lake Sebu in Lake Sebu – is a natural lake located in the municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and within the Alah Valley region. The Philippine government has recognized it as one of the country’s most important watersheds. Lake Sebu is one of the many bodies of water supplying important irrigation to the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South is one of the prime eco-tourism destinations in the Region. famous for its 2 km Zipline, Longest in the Philippines.

Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City – the most visited site in Tacurong, the Baras Bird Sanctuary is truly a humbling experience. In an almost two hectares of land lying by a river bank here, the crack of dawn offers a melodious harmony of birds; thousands dot the skies also during sunsets, a pleasure for bird watchers.

Gumasa Beach in Glan – dubbed as the “Small Boracay in Mindanao” Barangay Gumasa has a six kilometer-long crescent beach on Sarangani’s eastern shore and only about an hour’s drive from General Santos City.Gumasa Beach, the Small Boracay of Mindanao or Boracay of the South, whatever name herein is the beauty of the beach. The white sand and fine crystal land makes your feet comportable to walk around the beach.

Fishport Complex in General Santos City – The tuna fishing industry had never been this promising and lucrative since its birth on this side of the earth-General Santos City. Lying at the head of the Sarangani Bay, the city has been dubbed the “Boom Town City of the South,” and considered as one of the fastest-growing cities in the Philippines.Had it not been for its strategic geographical location and existence of other amenities needed by the fishing industry, General Santos City could not have become South Cotabato’s heart of commerce and trade. Boosted with the signs of prosperity sprouting everywhere,” business has never been better,”. With the advent of the operation of General Santos City Fish Port Complex, post-harvest technology equipment needed to prolong the shelf-life of tuna and other species of fish, are made available, thus playing a vital role for trading and other post harvest activities.

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