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Sarangani Unspoiled beauty
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: By Rachel C. Barawid
Date: 2005-04-25
Always the victim of mostly exaggerated reports of terrorist acts, Mindanao is far from what critics say it is, “the next Afghanistan.” There is a peaceful, quiet and beautiful side of the region that people do not see, perhaps blinded by the persistent negative publicity that continue to overshadow its positive features and characteristics. This side that boasts of spectacular natural attractions, a multi-faceted culture, rich history and warm people is one of Mindanao’s pride: Sarangani Province. Its wonders were unveiled to the public only recently during the opening of “Philippines’ Best,” a revival of the crowd-drawing Best of the Regions cultural-cum-trade show. The recently concluded Kuyog regional show showcased the Central Mindanao provinces and cities of South Cotabato, Noth Cotabato, Koronadal, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Kidapawan, and General Santos.

For many, Sarangani stood out among the rest as one of the most promising destinations to watch out for.

It is bounded by Sultan Kudarat on the west, South Cotabato on the north, Davao del Sur on the east, and the Celebes Sea on the south. Flatlands, rolling hills and mountains characterize Sarangani’s terrain.

The province holds many wonders that have remain untapped to this day. Among these are the long 226.4-km. coastline mostly fringed by white-sand beaches, coves and rock formations.

Unknown to many, Sarangani is also home to the tarsier, the smallest primate/monkey in the world, next to Bohol’s forests, its most popular habitat. The Philippine Eagle is also a common dweller of its lush mountains.

In the town of Glan is the "Boracay of the South." The Gumasa Resort located in a hilly coastal barangay boasts of powdery white-sand beaches lined with coconut trees, and a privacy one cannot find in the crowded Boracay.

The Sarangani Bay is the largest in the country with 13,500 hectares of surface water. The bay is the haven of many sea creatures including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and a sea cow (dugong).

Divers will delight in its diverse coral reefs, making it one of the world’s best dive destinations.

In 1996, the Bay was declared a Protected Seascape and the Environmental Conservation and Protection Center was established to protect its rich coastal and marine resources from degradation and exploitation. At present, it is also functioning as a local environmental research institution.

Sarangani’s rich history can also be traced to some archaelogical finds in the town of Maitum. Discovered in the Ayob Cave in Brgy. Pinol, Maitum were about 49 heads dating back to 300-500 B.C. Now sheltered in the National Museum, these finds are believed to be the material evidence of the backbone of Maguindanao pre-history and the Filipino people in general.

Another asset of Sarangani is its tasty milkfish which has earned for the province a good reputation in the export business and more revenue for the local government.

According to Gov. Miguel Rene A. Dominguez, milkfish, pompano and sea bass are among the famous export products of Sarangani.

"If General Santos is known for its tuna, our province can be known for its bangus (milkfish). Our milk fish is the best tasting in the whole country, mainly because the Sarangani Bay is kept clean and the technology used in the careful mix of fresh and salt water prevents the developing of the unpleasant muddy flavor and odor brought by certain varieties of algae that thrive in fresh water environments are utilized," he explained.

Sarangani supplies 50 percent of bangus fry in the Visayas and Mindanao, their bangus export came first before local distribution. They supply smoked, fresh frozen, deboned, marinated and bottled bangus to the United States, Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Micronesia.

Armed with these wonders and a stable peace and order situation, the 28-year-old Boston educated governor is now embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to promote the province’s potentials to tourism and business investors.

"We are opening our doors to progress and we invite tourism and investment to come in to our province," he said.

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