Revisiting History, Culture and Resource With MunaTo Festival November 24-27

After the many successful staging of festivals at the municipal levels, the constituents of Sarangani are now looking forward to the celebration of a province-wide “MunaTo Festival.”

Tradition has it for the last years, singling out November as the official month of the prestigious event, the Founding Anniversary of Sarangani featuring the MunaTo Festival which for this year anchors on the theme “History, Culture, and Resources.”

The Sarangani Information Office says this year’s 19th Founding Anniversary and 9th MunaTo Festival is slated to occur on November 24-27 with various activities being lined up to jazz up the celebration.

The festivity enjoins Sarangans (the constituents of Sarangani) to revisit the province’s history and celebrate its rich culture and diversity in resources, that is from natural endowment to tri-people (Indigenous People, Moro and Christian), who live in coexistence with one another.

Governor Miguel Dominguez described the province’s natural resources as Sarangani’s unique pride that spell out growth and progress for the province.

This year’s MunaTo Festival honors pioneering Congressman James L. Chiongbian, the father of Sarangani, and who authored the bill for its creation in 1992 separating it from the province of South Cotabato.

As a gesture of gratefulness for the initiatives of the former statesman, the provincial capitol building, during the second day of the celebration (Nov 25) will be renamed “JLC Building” in Chiongbian’s honor. The expected guest will be Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The province was named after Sarangani Bay. The bay was believed to have been named after Saranganing, a famous Sangil traveler from the coast of Indonesia who traded with the great Sultanate of Buayan, now General Santos City.

Teeming with rich marine resources including marine wildlife, Sarangani Bay also hosts the tuna capital of the Philippines - General Santos City.

MunaTo which means “fist people” is a festivity that depicts the cultural heritage as well as the tourism potentials of Sarangani.

Its roots can be traced back to the 2,000-year old archaeological finds (anthropomorphic jars) in Maitum, Sarangani which reveal the people’s community life in Southeast Asia then.

Today, Sarangani is composed of more or less 60 percent indigenous peoples (IPs). The majority of the IPs include Blaan, Tagakaolo and Tboli with a few Klagans. Coexisting with them are Moro tribes dominated by Maguindanaon, Samal, and Sangirs. Some Tausugs and Badjaos are found in a few coastal barangays especially in Maasim town.

According to Sarangani Tourism and Investment Promotion Center (STIPC) one of the mainstay highlights of the MunaTo Festival is the “Pearl of Sarangani,” a pageant of beauty and talent showcasing the priceless gems--ladies of the seven towns—Alabel, Glan, Malapatan, Malungon, Maasim, Kiamba, and Maitum.

For this segment, STIPC hopes that Senator Jinggoy Estrada will be able to accommodate the province’s invitation for him to grace the event, also on November 25 (nighttime).

It said that apart from those mentioned, the province in collaboration with its partner-municipalities and the private sector will be preparing lots of fun, perks and surprises for the Sarangans to enjoy the MunaTo Festival 2011 come November more than they did last year. (CT Apelacio/PIA General Santos City)

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