Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarangani's MunaTo Festival, a tribute to its past

By Beverly Paoyon

ALABEL, Sarangani (November 18, 2009) – Sarangani’s MunaTo Festival this year is anchored on the promotion of its cultural heritage, tourism potentials as well as the best practices, experiences and developments reaped over the 17 years since it was created in 1992.

Michelle Solon, president of Sarangani Tourism Industry Association (SARTIA), said activities lined up like the tribal mass wedding and the inter-dialogue among lumads (indigenous people), Muslims and Christians would wrap up the concept of culture and heritage which Sarangans claim the “pride of tri-people.”

MunaTo is a Blaan word that means “first people.”

Solon said this year’s celebration would “bring in and drive interest of people towards Sarangani. Ano ba ang Sarangani? Ano ba ang pagkakilala ng tao ng Sarangani? What we boast of is our culture.”

Solon estimated more or less 60 percent of the province’ population comprises the lumads and Muslims. “It’s more than our immigrants so ang pride natin is our heritage,” she said, thereby relating it to the discovery of 2000-year old anthropomorphic jars in Maitum which reveals “community life started in Sarangani.”

After the Tabon man, she said, “is the anthropomorphic jars. So we are like a link to the past and also we are looking forward to the future and this festival shows ‘yun ang kagandahan ng Sarangan, ang kagalingan ng Sarangan, ang uniqueness ng Sarangan at ito ngayon ang gusto nating ipakita sa buong mundo.”

Solon reported that tourism arrivals increase every year. On MunaTo festival monitoring alone, last year posted around 17,000, a significant increase compared to the previous year which is estimated at only 5,000.

SARTIA spearheads the MunaTo Festival this year. It is all private sector participated group which businesses are in Sarangani.

Solon, leading the group, said “talagang kitang-kita ng lahat na ang private sector is very supportive in pushing towards tourism of Sarangani. Nasa puso talaga namin kasi it affects the businesses of all and the tourism establishments.”

“This is one way of increasing tourism arrivals so talagang we are very supportive with the government’s efforts of pushing the tourism of Sarangani.”

Preparations for the festival of the different event organizers are now in place for the week-long celebration to start on November 23 and would culminate on November 28.

Other activities are cultural shows, street dancing competitions, showcase of products from each municipalities, concerts and street party and fireworks display. (Beverly Paoyon/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)

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