History and Culture

The Glamour of Glan: Sarangani's Historical Town

Bernard Supetran
Bernard Supetran | Oct 20, 2015
Ancestral house in Glan

Situated on the easternmost coast of Sarangani, it is regarded as Sarangani province’s tourist capital with its mile-long powdery Gumasa Beach and heritage village because of its cluster of American colonial-era houses.

This glam took center stage as it showcased its rich culture and nature as part of the Lubi-Lubi Festival to mark its 101st founding anniversary.

 Lubi Lubi Festival of Glan Sarangani; photo by Arnold Cordero

Now on its 16th edition, the locus of the Festival is the street dance parade and competition with revelers dressed in colorful costumes made out of lubi (coconut). 

 Lubi Lubi Festival of Glan Sarangani; photo by Arnold Cordero

Almost 90% of Glan’s total land area is planted with the tree making the town the top producer of coconut and derivatives in the Soccsksargen Region. Hence, the festivity is a tribute to the tree of life.

 Lubi Lubi Festival of Glan Sarangani; photo by Arnold Cordero

Street presentations portrayed old religious and animistic belief of the townsfolk about the tree of life, as well as traditional dances from Moro and lumad tribes.

Glan is a melting pot of Maguinadaon, Taosug, Blaan and Tboli indigenous tribes who live in peaceful coexistence. Its name is believed to have originated from the Maguindanaon word “Magalang” meaning sharp, referring to the weapons used in hunting during its early days.

Ruiz Family Centennial Marker

Municipal Mayor James Yap Jr. said the festivity put to the fore strides made by the town in the fields of tourism promotion, agriculture, heritage preservation, and good governance.

A hamlet during the American period Empire Province of Cotabato, Glan traces its roots to Oct. 8, 1914, when the pioneering batch of Colony No. 9 composed of the 16 families led by superintendent Tranquilino Ruiz from Cebu landed to populate the area.

The migration is part of the creation of Agricultural Colonies by virtue of Philippine Commission Acts Nos. 2254 and 2280 enacted in 1913 during the administration of Governor General Francis Harrison.

Ruiz Ancestral House interior

Yap said that because of its checkered history, the laid-back town has been considered the heritage village of the province and Soccsksargen Region evident in the period ancestral homes which serve as living museums.  

The provincial and municipal governments and home-owners are formulating policies for the conservation of these art deco-inspired houses which have withstood the ravages of time.

He added that the town has also become one of southern Mindanao’s tourist hotspots because of Gumasa Beach which is regarded as one of the best in Mindanao with its fine sand coves and crystalline water.

Gumasa Beach in Glan

It broke into the national scene when it posted a record 120,000 attendance in the three-day Sarangani Bay Festival last May which featured sports and fitness events, beach-themed activities and coastal cleanups. 

He said the award-winning event established new records and set a benchmark on how beach partying should be environmentally sustainable. As a result, the town is recognized by the Department of Tourism Region 12 as a prime mover in the promotion of green tourism in Soccsksargen.

A new stomping ground in the town which masterfully blends culture and nature is the newly-opened Hacienda Don Juan, a private farm ranch with a beach-front ancestral house-museum as centerpiece.

Hacienda Don Juan

Glan officially became a municipality on July 25, 1949 when President Quirino issued Executive Order No. 250 creating the town. 

The town is also become home to Indonesian migrants from North Sulawesi province who have made the town their adoptive home for generations.

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