Friday, November 28, 2008

MunaTo: Celebrating Sarangani's people, culture, resources

By Russtum G. Pelima

ALABEL, Sarangani (November 28, 2008) – Turning sweet sixteen, young Sarangani province, seen with so much potentials by its founders, now flies like a colorful butterfly with its 6th MunaTo Festival.

Truly celebrating its rich history and cultural heritage, Sarangani pays tribute to its natural bounty and artistry of Sarangans that this year's "Ang Galing Mo, Sarangan" theme oozes with artistic passion and business, hard work and volunteerism, innovations and peace effort put altogether towards prosperity.

"I was told that MunaTo means first people, but for me, you mean people first," said Vice President Noli "Kabayan" de Castro in his opening message.

De Castro is guest-of-honor to the province's 16th Foundation Anniversary and 6th MunaTo Festival formal opening Thursday (November 27) at the Capitol grounds.

De Castro led the ground-breaking ceremony of the Provincial Capitol Employees Village in Alabel earlier.

The Vice President lauded Sarangani's initiative of finding its real potentials for development particularly in tourism.

"When the late Congressman James L. Chiongbian first fought for the province and before the historic March 16 1992 for its independence, Sarangani was seen to have the capability to prosper and become a model province," De Castro recalled.

"Now these dreams are fulfilled because its people and its leaders work together in unity."

At the Kalyak Sarangani, visitors and Sarangans themselves see Sarangani's artistry. Kalyak Sarangani is an exhibit booth of award-winning photographer Cocoy Sexcion with his collection of Sarangani's "Sights and Faces" and Tboli artist Ronald Tamfalan's indigenous paintings.

"Photography is more than just light and composition," said Sexcion. "It is real life I want to capture at the right moment and that's what we want people to see to inspire them again more than just to remember."

"I wanted to capture the positive side of life. I wanted people to appreciate little things through photography."

Sexcion discovered his art in photography in 2004 inspired by Sarangani's beautiful sceneries and its unique peoples being once a stranger to the place. Sarangani is home to multiculturalism. Here, Muslims, Christians and lumads live together in harmony as evidenced by multi-dialects: Sarangans speak Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilongo, Ilocano, Blaan, Tboli, and Maguindanao.

Ronald Tamfalan is a Tboli who finished school in Falel Community School. Falel is a Tboli community in Kiamba town.

Tamfalan should have learned better education, but despite the school's inaccessibility for educational assistance like reading books and more number of teachers (the school has one volunteer teacher for 15 years), but he said his inspiration to paint came from his fellow Tbolis and his surroundings, and put them on canvasses.

Ronald makes oil paintings. His trademark is his Tnalak, a native clothing, in oil.

But he also uses soil like reddish clay, barks of trees and dyes of leaves, in his canvass.

Governor Migs Dominguez is one of Ronald's fans and buyers. Other visual artists in South Cotabato and General Santos City began to appreciate his unique tribal paintings and concepts of visual arts.

"Difficulty has its own way of making struggle to sharpen and purify life in art," commented Ali Al Nezzar, director of Kalinawa Art Foundation, a non-government organization from Canada.

"True artists by necessity and passion are committed to doing their art. It is the spiritual force within the human being the moves the imagining and the making of art."

Sexcion and Tamfalan are indeed true examples of "Ang Galing Mo, Sarangan".

A search for successful Sarangans is conducted on November 29 with the criteria on the field of innovations, excellence, and volunteerism.

In November 28, Chief Justice Reynato Puno inaugurated the Tamdanan sa Balaud, a "Justice on Wheels" project initiated by the Provincial Legal Office. The provincial government purchased a bus worth P900,000 to bring the court to the barangays and speed up the administration of justice among the communities.

Vice President De Castro lauded the provincial officials' initiative in building a housing community project for Capitol employees in Alabel and urged provincial leaders to further do projects for Sarangani's "poorest of the poor" through a joint venture scheme with the national government.

Governor Dominguez despises armed conflicts that occurred in Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum towns during the past few months.

"Sometimes we have to take one step back, but we must take five steps forward to tell the good news to our people," he said.

Fabli Gu Ni, a tribal trade fair, exhibits Sarangani's business potentials showcasing the seven town's One-Town One Product. Also, these booths shows miniatures of their tourism potentials like the waterfalls of Kiamba, world-class diving of Maasim, Maitum's anthropomorphic jars, Isla Parilla in Alabel.

"This rich history and beauty is a result of the blending of many cultures and traditions."

"As the Vice President, I promise to be a promoter of tourism in Sarangani."

"I am confident that Sarangani will have its leaps and bounds, and why you can count on my support always is because 'Ang Galing Mo, Sarangani'." (Russtum G. Pelima/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)

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