Sarangani sets Nov. 24 for Pacman hero’s welcome

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 Nov) – Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao will be feted a hero’s welcome in his province on November 24 despite his recent controversial win over Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez.

The grand hero’s welcome for Pacquiao would be in time for the opening of the province’s 9th MunaTo Festival, organizers said.

This year’s festival is set on November 24-27 with various activities lined up to showcase Sarangani’s “history, culture and resources.”

Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez announced last Sunday after the Pacquiao-Marquez that a hero’s welcome await the congressman on November 25.

But in a press release on Thursday, the Provincial Information Office said that the hero’s welcome for the internationally acclaimed boxing icon would be staged on November 24, the opening day of the MunaTo Festival.

It was the third fight between Pacquiao and Marquez; the first ended in a draw, and the second won by Pacquiao by a split decision.

In their recent fight, the Sarangani congressman narrowly escaped defeat in a close match that many believed should have been won by Marquez.

Meanwhile, organizers of the upcoming 9th MunaTo Festival said preparations are all set for the extravaganza of “cultural events, exhibits, and crowd-drawing competitions guaranteed to stir excitement over this year’s celebration.”

MunaTo Festival is a celebration honoring the first people and leaders of Sarangani.

MunaTo was derived from the native vernacular meaning “unang tao” or “first people”, the early inhabitants of Sarangani who passed on a rich cultural heritage.

MunaTo also refers to the makers of the 2000-year-old anthropomorphic burial jars discovered in the municipality of Maitum that are now in the National Museum.

Larry Asparin, acting coordinator of the Sarangani Tourism and Investment Promotion Center (STIPC), said that “sounds and colors” with a festive mood would dominate the forthcoming MunaTo.

He expected a huge attendance this year compared to the previous celebrations because activities were properly screened to attract more people.

A considerable increase of tourists has been noted from the 16,080 visitors in 2009 to 26,100 in 2010 as reported by the STIPC.

The MunaTo Festival celebrates the foundation anniversary of Sarangani, which was carved out of South Cotabato in 1992. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)