Jhun L. Miranda
Eng5, MTH, 9:00-10:30
Fortress of the Tri-People
One of the notable structures in Sarangani is the provincial capitol situated at the Municipality of Alabel.
The traffic was light and the wind blew coldly—making our twenty-minute ride from General Santos City to the capitol smooth and exciting.
As we entered the capitol, we were welcomed by the wide area of lawn with tall trees surrounding it—giving us an impression of the environment of Sarangani. The employees and personnel were busy in their respective tasks since it was a working day. However, we found ourselves seating in the organized office of the provincial engineer.
“The building was built on 1993 after Sarangani was established as a new province on March 16, 1992. It was because of Republic Act (RA) 7228, authored by the late James Chiongbian, that Sarangani became an independent province out of South Cotabato”, Engr. Jerry Belbider, who was also an MSUan, said with all enthusiasm.
When viewed in the aerial survey, the capitol is a “C” shape structure– making it a tourist spot in the locality. It has this unique arrangement in honor of the founding father of the province that exerted great efforts in the search of the P55 million funds from DPWH just to materialize the construction of the building.
Today, there are 12 offices comprising the building. In the right wing are Agriculture’s Office, Legal Office, Engineering Office, and Planning Office while in the left wing are Budget Office, Treasurer’s Office, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Extension Office, and the Information Office. The Administrator’s Office, Conference room, Asst. Administrator’s Office, and Human Resource Management Office are located in the second floor of the building.
As we searched for other significant spots in the area, we found the three human-like sculptures at the back of the capitol. Curiosity pushed us to ask about the significance of the sculpture. Sir Russtum Pelima, who once worked at the Public Information Office of Sarangani, said that the sculptures represent the Tri-People of the province namely, the B’laan, Muslims, and Christians. “Parang Unity in Diversity ba,” he added with a smile.
This whitewashed provincial capitol with its grand neo-classical design is still standing high in giving adequate social services to all its inhabitants. This is where important deliberations and discussions over policies, programs, and activities take place before it is being delivered to the people. Moreover, it is the home of the persons in authority, who worked deliberately for the improvement of the living conditions of the B’laan, Muslims, and Christians who are the vital element of the province. Without this stronghold, these people will be not be heard, given importance, and prioritized.
Truly, Sarangani is a fast growing province in SOCSKSARGEN blessed with abundant tourist attractions and preserved cultural heritage. These are the white-sand beaches, Famillia Ruiz Memorabilia, Century-old Acasia Trees, Ancestral Houses and many more that should really be visited.
When we were about to leave the provincial capitol, a question bothered me, “Where do these people (public officials) generate inspiration on their everyday work?” When I glanced back to the lobby, a quotation written in Gold plating had caught my attention: “If anyone desires to be first, he must be the last of all, and the servant of all.”
I smiled because somehow my question was answered coincidentally. Thereafter, I rushed back to my other classmates who were preparing for the next tourist spot in the southernmost tip of Mindanao.
Southern Mindanao’s “White House” as it looms proudly at Alabel, Sarangani Province.