There were no classes at schools on all year levels, plus no office hours at government agencies in the whole province of Sarangani yesterday, by virtue of the special non-working holiday declared by the capitol. The reason: Tuesday was the official start of the week-long Munato Festival, the founding anniversary of the province. And it’s not just any anniversary but the twenty-fifth year since Sarangani became separate from South Cotabato province, in 1992. There have been a slew of special events and activities lined up by the organizers for the silver anniversary of Sarangani, many of which were also launched on this day.

As ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol SOCSKSARGEN tells it, the official celebration of Sarangani’s 25th Munato Festival kicked off with the opening of the Munato Cultural Village in the capital Alabel. The complex features reproduction of traditional dwellings used in the area by the original inhabitants and later settlers to the area, with demonstration numbers of various cultural dances. Various exhibits were also put together by students of Sarangani’s schools that shine a spotlight on the early days of the Munato or “first people.” These were set up in the days leading to the Munato festival week, and are now open to be enjoyed by these same students due to school being out.

Of course, the center of the commemoration lies in the provincial government itself, with the capitol complex serving as a parade ground early in the morning for the various civil employees in their uniform best. Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon himself oversaw the opening program and declared open the festival, which runs from Tuesday to Friday, by ceremonially sounding a native gong. Gov. Solon in his opening remarks stated his intentions of leading the provincial government in continuing to provide quality services to their constituent Sarangans.

Never one to back down from the challenges of tomorrow, the Governor laid out his administration’s vision to see Sarangani develop further, to the point that it could be considered the Singapore of the Philippines, the state of which he describes as being a province that is “vibrant, peaceful and tolerant.” As honored guest and main representative of the national government for the Munato opening ceremonies, Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process undersecretary Nabila Tan, the holding of the festival is an effective initiative by Sarangani to promote peace and order in the rest of Mindanao.

“I think it’s a big boost to the province,” said U-sec. Tan in an interview, who added that moves towards peace and order are important to the localities.

Prominent events held during the first day of Munato 2017 last Tuesday were the Sulong Kabataan gathering and the “Sarangani Got Talent” competition. Today’s schedule has the Tribal Day event and the “Pearl of Sarangani” beauty pageant.

Photo courtesy of Munato Festival FB page

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