The modern political context for the existence of what is today the Province of Sarangani dates back during the American period when the colonial administration of the Muslim and Non-Muslim Tribes in the parts of Mindanao was established by the United States after the signing of the Paris Peace Treaty with Spain in 1898 and agreed to cede Spain’s colonial possessions of the Philippine Islands. After the Philippine-American war, Act No. 787 of the Philippine Commission created on July 15, 1903 of what was called the Moro Province including Sulu.
Former Political Division Underpinnings
For the Moro Province, on October 29, 1903, the creation of 15 municipal districts and 18 tribal wards was approved. The tribal ward designation was soon abandoned but the municipal districts stayed. The municipal districts in the provincial sub-district of Cotabato included Cotabato proper, Glan and Makar. The Moro Province stayed in existence from 1903 to 1914. First slavery was prohibited. Next, land surveys were undertaken and a land titling system introduced. A cedula or head tax and later a road tax were imposed. People received citizen rights and limited government protection from lawless elements. During the administration of General John J. Pershing, who from 1909 to 1913 acted as the third and last governor of the Moro Province, governance was generally peaceful and the civil affairs of government progressed. Economic development occurred and social conditions became better. It was Pershing who, in order to have a future farming population reintroduced an idea, dating from the Spanish time, of encouraging the migration of Christian Filipinos from the Visayas and Luzon to southern parts of Mindanao. (Ramirez, 1994; p. 50 and pp. 52-53).
In 1913, the Moro Province was in the year following abolished and replaced with the Department of Mindanao and Sulu. Cotabato at that time changed from being a provincial sub-district to being a province. A site adjacent to the native Muslim village of Glan on the east side of Sarangani Bay in 1914 was selected to be one of the first agricultural colonies of Christian Filipino settlers to be established in Muslim Mindanao which was known Initially as Colony No. 9.
In 1918, the west side of Sarangani Bay and the further westward Celebes Sea coast became the newly designated additional municipal districts of Kling and Kran. Kling later evolved into what are today the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim in the province of Sarangani. Kran corresponds to what is today the Municipality of Palimbang, in the adjacent province of Sultan Kudarat. The boundaries of the province of Cotabato stayed the same from 1914 onward, during the Commonwealth Period, during the Japanese Occupation, and during the first years of the Republic of the Philippines. Cotabato came to be referred to as “the Empire Province” on account of its size. With national government programs to support its happening, the province continued to attract migrants from Luzon and the Visayas. In the Sarangani Bay region, Kiamba and Glan became municipalities respectively in 1947 and 1949. It is of note that Glan came out of the then southern part of the municipality of Buayan. The name Municipality of Buayan was changed to General Santos. Maitum became a municipality in 1959.
In 1966, the province of Cotabato was divided into two provinces North Cotabato and South Cotabato. The municipalities of the Sarangani Bay region – General Santos, Kiamba, Glan and Maitum - became part of the third (congressional) district of the province of South Cotabato. Maasim, Malapatan and Malungon became municipalities in 1969, with Maasim coming out of the eastern part of Kiamba and Malapatan coming out of the then northern part of the municipality of Glan. Alabel became a municipality in 1971, coming out of the southeastern part of the then municipality of General Santos.
Founding of the Province of Sarangani
By virtue of Republic Act 7228, authored by the third congressional district Representative Hon. James L. Chiongbian signed into law by former President Corazon C. Aquino on March 16, 1992, the Province of Sarangani was created. The province is constituted by the seven municipalities that formerly belonged to South Cotabato. These are the coastal municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba, Maasim, Alabel, Malapatan and Glan, and the inland municipality of Malungon.
Table. Date of Creation, Legal Basis and Origin of LGUs in Sarangani Province
Sarangani Province is now among the key players in the SOCSKSARGEN Growth Center which constituted Region XII.
Origin and Etymology of the name Sarangani
The name Sarangani is given to the created province because of its proximity to Sarangani Bay. The bay got its name from the two major islands that lie directly off the southern tip of the Sarangani Peninsula which borders the bay on its east side.
Based on traditional recall, it has become the common understanding that the B’laan, T’boli and Sarangani Manobo were established in the Sarangani Bay region before any of the other tribal peoples. This, however, would ignore that along the coast, the Sangir also had a very early presence. As perhaps first applied to the islands near the southern tip of Mindanao, the name Sarangani reportedly was derived from the Sangir phrase ‘saranganeng’, dating from pre-Islamic times. Some take ‘saranganeng’ to be cognate to a later dialectical phrase ‘sarang ene’, meaning something like “this is our stopover and place of sojourn”. The Sangir use this second phrase in the sense of “these coasts are ours to habitually come to, stay at, or depart from as at any time we may choose”. Supposedly, this phrase was corrupted and produced the name Sarangani. The name continued to convey to the Sangir the idea that the southern coasts of Mindanao always belonged to them. Historically, these coasts presented to them the aged old northern frontier of their world which they occupied as it suited them. As a current geographic name Sarangani refers to all of coastal southern Mindanao.
Source: PPDO Sarangani