Cotabato is a city and port on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. In existence since the 13th century, Cotabato, with a population of some 270,000 in 2010, is the second largest city on the island and an administrative centre for the surrounding region. The city is distinct from Cotabato province on Mindanao. From 1920 to 1967, the city of Cotabato was capital of the province of the same name. Since then, however, the provincial boundaries have changes and the the city of Cotabato is now located the neighbouring province of Maguindanao.
The city is located at the mouth of the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the largest river system in the island. The wide stretch of water near the estuary at Cotobato would have made it easy for the city to be accessed, as in the Biggles story, by ship or marine aircraft.
Cotabato can be visited via domestic flights from Manila however the governments of several countries maintain travel advisories and warnings against travel to the city because of ongoing internal unrest on Mindanao. As a result, foreign tourism is small in scale.
Cotabato and BigglesEdit
Cotabato features prominently in Biggles in Borneo. It is the headquarters for the General Yashnowada, the Japanese military commander of the local district. At Cotabato, the Japanese troops maintained a prisoner of war camp, built around the former civil prison, where they kept allied soldiers which they had capture during operations in Mindanao, such as American aviators Pat Flannagan and Bill Gray, as well as high profile prisoners such as American General Barton. Also interned there were civilians such as British diplomat Jackson, two women Mary Stockton and Doctor Harding and Chinese merchant Fee Wong. In addition, the Japanese had built a large ammunition dump near the prison camp where munitions for their advance towards Australia were being stockpiled.
During the events in the book, Flanagan, Gray and Jackson escaped from the prison camp and made their way by a boat to the island of Borneo where they met Biggles and reported the situation at Cotabato to him, particularly the presence of General Barton, whose whereabouts Allied headquarters was interested in.
Later, Algy and Ginger were forced to bail out of their Beaufighter after discovering a venomous snake in the cockpit. They were captured and taken by submarine to Cotabato where they were taken to the town hall which served as Yashnowada's headquaters. After being interrogated by the Japanese general, they were taken to the prison camp.
Having obtained permission from Allied headquarters for a rescue mission, 666 Squadron attacked Cotabato in a daring night raid during which the ammunition dump was bombed by a Liberator and several Beaufighters while escape tooks and weapons were dropped to the prisoners in the camp. Taking advantage of the diversion created by the attack on the ammunition dump, Algy and Ginger led the prisoners in breaking out of the encampment where they were then ferried off the island by a Cayman amphibious aircraft and a boat which had been obtained locally.