Carved out of the coastal towns of South Cotabato in 1992, Sarangani is one of the archipelago’s earliest cradles of civilization with the discovery of the prehistoric man and burial jars.
Deep into the wilderness, you can trek to the remote Pinol and Ayub Caves. If you elect not to make journey into the mountains, you can visit the local museum at the Maitum Municipal Hall which will give you a glimpse of the primitive settlement.
Now on display at the National Museum, the said jars are described by its former director, the late Fr. Gabriel Casal, as “exceptional archaeological assemblage and unparalleled in Southeast Asia”.
Due to its rugged terrain, Sarangani’s uplands are the domain of indigenous mountain tribes such as Blaan, Tagakaolo, Tboli, Manobo, Ubo, and Kalagan who have been residing in the mountains for generations.
Culture vultures can immerse with the B’laan communities at the Lamlifew Tribal Village Museum in upland Malungon, the only one of its kind in the country. Established in 2007, this repository of ethnic heritage chronicles the B’laan’s exotic culture, especially its intricate weaving and dyeing traditions and organic agricultural practices.
The intricate Mabal Tabih fabric of the B’laan is considered the crown jewel of Sarangani’s cultural resource conservation, with Gusiye Buan as the resident master weaver at the Lamlifew School of Living Traditions in Malungon town.
The province is also home to Muslim tribes, notably the Maguindanaoans of Malapatan who are noted for their craft of weaving the exquisite “malong” and “inaul” cloths with their traditional handlooms, which have found their way around the world as Muslim-inspired clothing or accessories. Another cultural gem is the gaily-decorated “ginakit” boats which they parade during the town’s Pakaradyan Festival.
Sarangani’s cultural diversity is embodied in the annual MunaTo Festival which celebrates the province’s founding day. Derived from the B’laan phrase Muna Toh or first people who passed on a rich cultural heritage, the festivity is captured in the MunaTo Yesterland Theme Park which encapsulates the province’s journey through the centuries.
Set at the Provincial Capitol Complex in Alabel, the sprawling neoclassical and ethnic-themed compound was transformed into modules depicting its various CAN attributes, as well as living tableaus in Moro cottages and regular cultural presentations from lumad tribes.
Glan, Sarangani’s centenarian and heritage village, is a throwback experience with its American-era ancestral homes. Founded in 1914, it is the “mother town” various municipalities under the then Empire Province of Cotabato. A must-see is the Ruiz residence which serves as the de facto municipal museum with its antediluvian displays and curio items which provide you a glimpse of Glan’s checkered past.