The mountains of Southern Mindanao are formed by an extensive range of relatively high hills, dormant volcanoes and upland lakes, the clean, cool air, awe-inspiring sceneries, soaring peaks, steep-sided valleys and beautiful, wild landscapes make it a favourite outdoor destination for nature lovers. The Daguma range is famous for its beautifully sculpted slopes and straddles the provinces Sultan Kudarat en South Cotabato, the panoramic sceneries that can be viewed from the impressive hills and peaks are one of a kind and will delight your eyes with picture-perfect, unforgettable moments. The elevated, cold upland areas in the Daguma Range are perfect plantation areas for coffee, most of the fields are managed by the people of the Manobo and B'laan tribe. This type of Robusta coffee is bold in flavour and great for espressos. A coffee roaster, the "bukbukan" meticulously roasts all their organic grown Kapi Moro beans by hand and sells their coffee in the local markets and villages in the lowlands. The beans are sold through the Fair Trade principle that means honest prices for farmers and decent working and living conditions for workers. The upper Allah valley and Koronadal Valley are separated by the Roxas Mountain Range also known as the Cotabato Basin, the rice granary of Mindanao, providing the nation's staple food. The endless corn fields and luscious rice paddies ring the Southern countryside in amazing bright green and golden yellow colours, the men and women in conical hats, tending to the plains and ploughing the mud with their water buffaloes make the scenery perfect and something to behold.
The scenic rivers and majestic clear water lakes in the Southern Tiruray Highlands of Mindanao are an oasis of natural beauty with rolling, rugged hills, cascading waterfalls and blessed with abundant wildlife. These placid lakes, in the middle of Allah Valley, play an important role in the lives of the local community. The verdant hills that are surrounding the lakes are dotted with groups of native huts and patches of farmland. Lake Sebu is the largest and lies at an altitude of three thousand feet (914 meters) above sea level, it is one of the major sources of water for the irrigation of the virgin lands of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. Lake Selutan the deepest and is often named as the sunrise lake for offering the most fantastic view of the sunrise. Lake Lahit it is the smallest, and unlike Lake Sebu and Lake Selutan, a free inland fishing zone. The ridges and valleys are home to the T'boli, a tribal community that considers this fresh water lake to be a God-given food basket. An abundant supply of fresh and sweet-tasting tilapia and other local breeds of fishes are grown in the many large fish cages that are floating in the lake. Because of its slightly cold climate, magnificent sceneries and stunning Seven Waterfalls it is also a must visit tourist destination. The beauty and charisma of these waterfalls display unmatched sceneries and promises to be an exceptional travel experience. Only two of the main falls are easy accessible, the more wide-eyed, adventurous travellers can reach the other five by climbing steep hills and crossing dense jungles.
One of the most idyllic lakes in Mindanao is Lake Holon, the name means "deep water'" in the local T'boli dialect, is nestled deep in the highlands, in the crater of Mount Melibengoy, one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines. It is believed to have erupted only three times over the past three thousand years, the last one in1641, causing the formation of the Crater Lake. Lake Holon is the source of all five large rivers running through this region and is a primary contributor to the region's agriculture. Its tranquil waters are ideal for boating, rowing and swimming, but because the secluded inland sea is surrounded by mountain tops and virgin forests, it is still, relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination. The lake, located 4,750 feet (almost 1448 meters) above sea level, is cradled by lush mountains and has been declared a sanctuary and a natural preserve. The vast area is the habitat to some of the most exotic species of animal life in the Philippine archipelago, including the rare Tigris Butterfly. The cold water of Lake Holon flows into the Luhan River, which is a tributary of the mighty, but flood prone Allah River, one of the biggest rivers in the area and a major source of irrigation, providing water for the adjacent rice and corn fields.
The lives and livelihoods of many people living along the banks of the river depend heavily on water and on these bountiful plantations. The water gushing down from the Roxas and Quezon mountain ranges is continuing its course into the Marbel River and is used mainly for irrigation of the many rice paddies that can be found at the outskirts of Koronadal City. The crystal clear water in the deep and shallow wells in the barangays finds it origin from the several natural springs in and around the area and is tapped generally for domestic use, while ground water is extracted from individual wells for use as drinking water. The Marbel River meanders north through the Koronadal Valley, its name is derived from the B'laan term "Marb-El" which means "murky waters". The sparkling river, which is the city's main waterway, is serving as catchment's of water flowing from the mountain ranges, preventing it to flow towards the downtown area and low-lying parts of the city. Many children play and swim around the Marbel River and the connecting creeks, for the, mostly poor, youngsters these streamlets are some of the small delights they have and a fun way to escape the sweltering heat of the sun. The streams offer pleasures as well as treasures, one of the unseen inland gems is undoubtedly the Siok fall, the largest waterfall in the city of Koronadal; it is located at Barangay Mabini and less than ten kilometres away from the city proper. The fall and several neighbouring water cataracts will soon be a part of a major tourist destination; the Siok Extreme River Trekking Adventure site. Visitors can experience and enjoy the pure fresh water of the river, face the challenge, feel the excitement from moving down the natural slides, be rewarded with spectacular vistas of pure unpolluted environs and given the rare opportunity to see natures hidden secrets at its best.
These Magnificent Mountains and Wonderful Waters are a blessing for the local population, for who soil and water means life. The hills, valleys, lakes and rivers provide them with beauty, happiness, food and income, but now and then they can be a curse when tropical storms and heavy rainfall will bring about swollen rivers, bursting their banks, triggering flash floods and landslides that can sweep away whole villages, creating havoc and causing widespread devastation. Aside from the flash floods, sporadic whirlwinds hitting rural villages are destroying houses and farm crops. Mindanaoans are resilient and adaptable in any kind of environment, they are deeply connected with Mother Nature and appreciate her blessings, though also understand and accept that she gives and takes. After the storms the fertile soil and free water will once more provide a basis for the people to rebuild their lives, their homes and communities on the hillsides, farmlands, sandbanks and river shores, just like so many others did so many times before them.