By Bernard Supetran
Sarangani has been associated with its favorite son, the “Fighting Congressman / Senator” Manny Pacquiao. But long before he became a legend, his province has been quietly punching its way in the tourism ring. And just like an underrated boxer, this southern escape in Mindanao is a strong contender in being the next tourism champ.
Here are some of the reasons why.
- A boundary town with Davao del Sur and Gen. Santos City, it is the province’s cradle of culture, nature and agriculture. It hosts the Lamlifew Village Museum which gives a glimpse of the Blaan indigenous peoples way of life. This community pioneer initiative is a repository of the ethnic group’s heritage, traditional weaving, and organic farming. Lamlifew produces exquisite beads, headdresses, and the mabal tabih handwoven fabric, Sarangani’s cultural gem. You can also discover the fun side of agriculture and immerse at its farm tourism attractions—the CCT Farm and Rio Verde Farm and Forest. The mountain-top Kalonbarak Skyline Ridge viewdeck park is a must-see is with its sweeping panorama of southern Mindanao’s mountains and seas.
- Sarangani’s rustic capital where the Provincial Capitol Complex towers in the midst of farm lands. The sprawling grounds has pocket gardens, the Kasfalah Hall, and a museum which exhibits Sarangani Bay’s marine life. The complex is the site of the annual MunaTo Festival which celebrates the province’s founding day in November. Its upland outskirt is emerging as a skateboarding haven because of its scenic zigzag road.
- Another culturally-rich town, it is the home of Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (Gamaba) Bai Estelita Bantilan, a master weaver of the igem Blaan mat. The town is also noted for elegant Maguindanaon malongand inaul fabrics woven by women using traditional handlooms. A Moro cultural icon is the ginakit boat of the colonial-era royalty which is recreated during the Pakaradjan Festival every June.
- Dubbed as “Tour Town”, its main magnet is Gumasa Beach, which sizzles during the Sarangani Bay Festival, the country’s biggest summer beach extravaganza of entertainment, wellness, sports and environmental events. Glan is also a gourmet getaway with its restaurant-resorts by the shores of Sarangani Bay which serve local and fusion delight. Travel back in time at its población heritage village with the museum-like American-era art deco homes.
- Take to the skies for a thrilling paraglide from the mountaintop of SAFI Ranch, which is among the best sites because of good winds the whole year round. Explore the underwater world at the amazing dive spots located just off Lemlunay Resort, which boasts of a variety of corals and colorful aquatic creatures. Non-divers can indulge in pedal boats, kayaks and helmet diving at Pacman Resort.
- Bask in the sea and the sun at Tuka Marine Park with its powdery beach and protected sanctuary, ideal for snorkeling and freediving. This mesmerizing cove has modest resorts for overnight stays. You can also soak in the icy natural pools of the multi-tiered Kawil falls.
- For an adrenaline rush, ride a 2-km exciting whitewater tube ride at Pangi River, then trek to Mlangen (or Kamlayaman) Falls and Yama Cave. Swing by the municipal hall museum for a glimpse of its 2,000-year history depicted in the dioramas of Ayub Caves where burial jars of anthropomorphic men were unearthed. The relics are described as exceptional archaeological assemblage unparalleled in Southeast Asia.
Fly to Gen. Santos City, the gateway airport to the Soccsksargen region. For ease of travel, group the tourist attractions into the Malungon-Alabel-Malapatan-Glan and the Maasim-Kiamba-Maitum clusters. You can take public UV Express or hire Go Sarangani Travel, a DOT-accredited tour operator, to handle your tours.