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Sarangani’s southern punch

Sarangani, famed for its “Fighting Senator” Manny Pacquiao, has the unique the distinction of being one of the country’s youngest provinces and at the same time, one of the oldest.

This Old World charm takes center stage once more as it celebrates its 27th provincial founding day and the 17th MunaTo Festival on Nov. 28-30.

Derived from the Blaan phrase Muna Toh or “first people”, festivities kick off on Nov. 28 with the MunaTo Run, Employees Day, the second Flowerhorn and Betafish Show, and the Municipal Village which will showcase the local produce, cuisine, souvenirs, and tourist attractions of the seven municipalities.

The Craft Conference and Exhibition with Cultural Presentations will display the intricate hand-weaving tradition of the lumad tribes such as Blaan, Tagakaolo, Tboli, as well as Moro communities such as the Maguindanaon, Maranao and Taosug.

There will also be weaving demonstrations on the Blaan Mabal Tabih fabric, considered the crown jewel of Sarangani’s cultural resources which is woven at the Lamlifew School of Living Traditions in Malungon.

The fest will also showcase the work of Bai Estelita Bantilan, a Blaan igem (mat) weaver of Malapatan, who was accorded the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasure) by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 through the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.

Sarangani governor Steve Chiongbian Solon said the festival will showcase nature, culture and adventure which are the province’s tourist top drawers.

Fringe events in the fest include the Pearl of Sarangani pageant which will select the province’s ambassadresses of goodwill and tourism, MunaTo Youth Day, Week of Peace, Indigenous Peoples Day, Tribal Sports, Jesus Reigns, extreme sports competitions, and a host of sporting, arts, entertainment and socio-civic events.

Activities will be held at the Provincial Capitol Complex in Alabel town.

Sarangani was created in 1992 from the coastal towns of South Cotabato, and dates back to the Metal Age based on the anthropomorphic burial jars unearthed in the caves in Maitum town. Now on display at the National Museum, the jars are described as “exceptional archaeological assemblage and unparalleled in Southeast Asia”.

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