It was to my surprise to see something more significant and beautiful than Glan, Sarangani’s white sand beaches. I never knew that in its downtown, stood living witnesses of the town’s centennial history—the century-old houses.
After I’ve learned that our class is having a day’s trip to the Province of Sarangani, I was excited because what first comes to my mind is the famous six-kilometer white sand beaches located in one of its towns’ barangay- Gumasa, Glan. What do you expect from me? It is well known because it is where the most talked about annual summer beach party is held- the Sarangani Bay fest or SarBay. Thus, I’ve never been there, I’ve never experienced the famed event in Mindanao.
With enthusiasm, I was all set, ready to go wander, without neglecting the fact that we are also tasked to write about the trip, well I already made up my mind that I am going to write about the white sand beaches.
Our trip is a series of stopovers. Each stop unfolding different stories of Sarangani. We made a stopping at the provincial capitol, Balungis Women’s Association, and before lunch, we made it to the Ruiz Familia Memorabilia. I have a heart to old stuff, which made this stopover one of my favourites. With the stunning collections of precious antiques and oriental sets that speak of the town’s history and memorabilia of the family preserved over time, Dr. Jose Tranquillano Ruiz III, collected them all. He is the grandson of nonetheless, the great Tranquillano Ruiz.
However, due to the delayed jump off, our professor decided that in order for us to save time, we’ll have to stroll around downtown, on our own, visiting three of the stopovers left in the itinerary before we proceed to the beach, these three were the Glan Municipal Hall, hundred year- old trees and the centennial old houses.
The latter got me and my friends on hype. So after we had our lunch, my squad went to roam around Poblacion looking for the hundred-year-old houses. Luckily, locals of Glan are good people, hospitable and very welcoming so we didn’t have a hard time locating the old houses not because it is just situated around the town but because of the help of the locals.
We first found the Emilio Alegado Ancestral House. But unfortunately, there was no one at home to tour us inside since the family is busy campaigning for the upcoming election. Yet, some locals volunteered to tell us the story of the ancestral house. Accordingly, It was first constructed in 1949 after World War II, designed with both Spanish and American architectural influences. Intricately embroidered walls designed with “Kalados”, concrete step boards and wide wooden staircase, painting the magnificent beauty of the house. The first elected municipal mayor of Glan was the one who built it, Emilio Alducente Alegado. Beloved by his people that not just a street but also a barangay in Glan was named after him. It is now occupied by the grandson of the late Emilio Alegado, Councilor Martin Alegado.
A few steps beside is another ancestral house. To our luck, the owner is at home and even accommodating to visitors, we were granted entrance to the balcony only since according to him the inside was a mess at that time, though he opened the door so we can sneak a peek. I was amazed because I caught a glimpse of an old piano. On our talk, he told us that it was his grandfather who owned the house. It was built in 1929, looking at the structure of the house you can still see its ancient beauty, you can also observe the similarities of the designs of the centennial houses. High balconies, canopies and intricate walls all designed and embroidered by “Kalados”, concrete step boards and wide wooden staircases. Maybe that time it was the trend.
He also told us that one of the centennial houses in town, the ancestral house of the Flores was once lived by one of our presidents, Diosdado Macapagal. But sadly, the house was recently destroyed by fire.
Along our way back, we spotted again another ancestral house, owned by the La Paz. A friend of the family, Modesto Adarna, takes care of the house. The house was also a beauty, like all the others. It was built in 1914 after World War II, funded by an American soldier from Cebu, Cabaldon but the owner was his friend Clemente La Paz, who was the first mayor of the town appointed by President Corazon C. Aquino. The house was recently restored and painted white. But we were not permitted an entry because according to him, the antiques were all stolen by visitors and tourists, which was a shame, leaving the family with only a wooden horse crafted in 1915, the following year the house was built. But nonetheless, it’s nice to see that it is restored and being taken care of.
As we walked our way back to the group, we got this feeling of walking in the late 1920s, rows of several ancestral houses are laid built mostly in the early part of 1900s but of course, there are points of kickbacks to the present because of the modern houses in between. Perhaps, the stories told made the ambiance.
As we motored to Gumasa beach, though I was still excited, my mind is in the centennial houses. I am really amazed by how this houses stood still and persevere along time. My thoughts are plans of going back to Glan to find out more stories and more heritage houses, my perspective about Sarangani now is not only exclusive to its white sand beaches but also to its rich history and culture. Indeed, a great adventure is not only defined by the beautiful sceneries photographed but also by the stories and experiences told and shared.
By Jan Lester Demaala, an AB Political Science student of Mindanao State University