GLAN, SARANGANI PROVINCE: Yesteryears’ Heritage is Today’s Treasure

I was wrong when I thought all that matters to Glan is its pristine white sand beach. You can’t blame me. The famous Gumasa Beach where Sarangani Bay Festival is held every year is located in this town and this six-kilometer stretch of white sand is said to be among the finest in Mindanao. So, if someone talks about Glan, the first thing that comes to mind is Gumasa Beach.

Glan Centennial Celebration CoverBut there’s more to Glan than its coastal wonders. Being the oldest municipality in the whole SocCCSKSarGen Region, Glan is a heritage town that played a significant role in shaping the whole region’s vibrant history. Forget about those white sand beaches, Glan’s substantial historical value makes this coastal town the most interesting place to discover in Sarangani Province. And those who come here to search for nature and pure pleasure find themselves more fascinated when the olden charms of Glan that are frozen in time are laid before their eyes. For some, they even call this beautiful place a little museum town. 

Glan’s Heritage of Yesteryears, Today’s Treasures.

Glan Centennial Celebration 4COLONO MARKER

In 1914, Don Tranquilino Ruiz from Alegria, Cebu was appointed by Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison as Superintendent of Agricultural Colony No. 9. It was one of the Agricultural Colonies sent to then Moro Province now called Mindanao thru Colonization Law of Don Sergio Osmena, Sr., then Speaker of the House of Representatives. Don Tranquilino Ruiz together with other 16 Cebuanos were among the first Christian settlers who came to Glan on October 8, 1914. They were welcomed by the natives and together created a harmonious and progressive community. As town’s tribute to this first meeting of Christians and natives, this town’s foremost historic structure, the Colono Marker, was erected. If you happen to meet any local, ask him and he’ll probably name those in the structure.

Glan Centennial Celebration 3CENTURY OLD ANCESTRAL HOUSES

If you stroll around Poblacion, your eyes will surely be glued to the ample rows of ancestral houses standing still and resilient with time. Mostly built in the 1920’s, these colonial homes still house stunning collection of antiques and priceless heirlooms handed down from generation to generation. Some of these houses were originally constructed by those Colonos who came to Glan carrying with them furniture pieces and stuff from Cebu. Some of these houses now are occupied or maintained by either third or fourth generation of the family. If you’re lucky, owners will allow you to come inside their homes and let you take a glimpse of its colorful past. But even viewing them from the outside, you’ll absolutely be mesmerized by their high balconies, canopies, capiz shell windows, calado embroidered walls and wide wooden staircases. Take your time. Lavish your eyes with such vintage sight you can only see in Glan.

Glan Centennial Celebration 2EMILIO ALEGADO COLONIAL HOUSE

Perhaps the most visited and most photographed ancestral house in Glan is the E. Alegado Ancestral House. It was constructed in 1949 after the Japanese-American with both Spanish and American architectural influences. Emilio Alducente Alegado, the one who built it, was the first elected Municipal Mayor of Glan. He was endeared to his people that not just a street but also a barangay in Glan was named after him. Visit this home. It is now occupied by Councilor Martin Alegado, grandson of the late E. Alegado and you’ll surely be amazed by the intricate calado embroidered walls that abound inside. Of course, antique collections of the family can be seen everywhere.

Glan Centennial Celebration 1CENTURY OLD ACACIA TREES

Walk around the town proper and you will see several century old trees lining up along the streets, in schools and town plazas. At one glance, they almost resemble like those talking Ents in the Lord of The Rings. These trees are as old as the early Christian settlers of this quaint town and they’re undeniably the mute witnesses of how Glan becomes what it is now. Take a brisk walk under these trees or maybe sit on a bench under their shades, it will make you feel the antiquity of this rustic town and somehow would make you wonder how it was like living here 100 years ago. Honestly, I’ve never been to any town or city in this country with this number of century-old trees thriving like in the real forest. While some towns and cities in the country are cutting their heritage trees in favor of modernization, here in Glan they’re taken care of. They’re well-preserved for they too are part of the town’s heritage.


It may not be as old as baroque or stone churches in the Visayas where Christianity was first introduced, Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church, the Parish Church of Glan is worth a visit. The Catholic Faith in this part of Mindanao was brought by Christian Settlers who came to this town from Cebu. Majority of them came from the town of Carcar where Santa Catalina of Alexandria is the patron saint. This explains further why the patron saint of Glan is the same as that of Carcar. Though Christians Cebuanos migrated to Glan in 1914, the Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church was built in 1949. It is now 65 years old and considered a built heritage. When you visit there, never miss saying a prayer for Santa Catalina or St. Catherine. Just so you know, she is the patroness of philosophers and preachers.

Glan Centennial Celebration 5THE RUIZ ANTIQUE COLLECTION

There’s no one in town who doesn’t know this walking encyclopedia of Glan. His name is Dr. Jose Tranquilino “Dodong” Ruiz III and he is the grandson of no less than the great Don Tranquilino Ruiz. He is a current Municipal Councilor and physician by profession. More than that, Dr. Ruiz is an antique collector and lover of something that has historical value. His museum-like home houses his family memorabilia which he prudently preserved over the years. Most of these antique collections speak about the history of his hometown. Over the years, Dr. Dodong Ruiz has built a reputation as the greatest local historian with his collection of antiques, local stories and personal account of his town’s heritage. And so when you visit this rustic town, drop by the Ruiz House to fully appreciate the history and legacy of Glan.

#ByahengMindanaw Team at Gumasa Beach
#ByahengMindanaw Team at Gumasa Beach


Like most of those who came to Glan, your visit to this coastal town is not complete without visiting Gumasa Beach. After luxuriating yourself with your heritage tour at the town proper, hit the beach and surrender yourself to the town’s tropical allure. Gumasa is the priced beach jewel of Glan. It is nestled amidst the turquoise waters of the Sarangani Bay with long stretch of powdery white sands beaches and coves favorite among locals and foreign tourists. After engaging yourself all day beach bumming or suntanning, you can settle down and lounge by the seashore and gaze at the glorious sunset setting in the waters of Sarangani Bay. It is the perfect thing to do to end the day in Gumasa.

Glan Centennial Celebration
The Travel Teller inside the E. Alegado Ancestral House

Today, Glan remains to be the home of proud Glanians who take pride of their roots and their rich heritage. They are warm people and they welcome everyone to their beloved town with warm smiles. True that the sights and sounds of modernity have established their presence in the town but they cannot drown the stillness and elegance of the past as embodied by century-old trees and colonial houses of Glan. The town and its people may have opened themselves to rapid change but they have not sacrificed the bountiful wealth of their heritage. They chose to protect it, conserve it for their next generation of Glanians to see, appreciate and preserve.

This is GLAN. Its Yesteryears’ Heritage is Today’s Treasure.


An Ancestral House located in Hacienda Don Juan

This coming October 8, Glan will celebrate its 100 years as a town – the oldest town in the whole Region 12. This will be the most celebrated event to be staged in the whole town where every Glanian from all over the world looks forward to. Thus, the celebration is made even bigger and grander. COME VISIT GLAN and join the Glanian celebrating its 100 Years Legacy of Great Heritage and History. For more details, please like and follow GLAN100 on Facebook to get updates about this Centennial Celebration of the Oldest Town in SOCCKSARGEN.

Glan Centennial Celebration logo1A thank you shout-out to Ms. Lodar Dagoy Escobillo, the ever energetic Tourism Head of Glan for making this Heritage Tour possible.

Glan Centennial Celebration logo


When the provinces of Bohol and Cebu was hit by a destructive earthquake last year, the country mourned not only for the loss of lives of many people and for the devastation of many homes but also for the many century old structures, churches in particular, that were brought into rubble and wrecked by an intensity 8 tremor. Three weeks after that, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded hit the Visayas Region killing more lives, damaged countless of infrastructure and destroyed a number of century old historical sites.

Built Heritage Sites 1Many grieved for such loss saddened and shocked by such successive mishap. Many, including myself, grieved not only for the lives and homes that were lost but also for the heritage sites that was shaken and destroyed in just hours – built heritage that was inherited from our great ancestors.

Built Heritage Sites 2
Century Old Churches of Bohol After Typhoon Yolanda

While my heart bleeds for those who perished in this disastrous mishap and for those who survived yet remained unsound, another part of me laments for the chances I missed beholding some of the most important ancient historical structures we have in the country. I regret for not being able to marvel at these heritage sites long before earthquake and typhoons battered and vanished them.

Built Heritage Sites 2
The Old Church of my Hometown Cateel after Typhoon Pablo

The same sorrow I felt when Typhoon Pablo ravaged my hometown of Cateel in the east coast of Davao Oriental devastating almost every structure we have there including institutions that molded my education. Old houses and buildings were destroyed and what remained are few remnants of our olden timest. Until today, I can still feel the sadness for all the things that were taken away from us – including built heritage that would have served as a great reminder of our past.

Philippine Built Heritage Sites 11
The Century-old Church of Boljoon, Cebu Province
Dalaguete Churh in Southern Cebu Province
The Dalaguete Church in Southern Cebu Province

But somehow, these ill-timed misfortunes teach us to love, to value more of what we have – including those that we consider things and sights of great history and heritage of our ancient times. It opened our eyes to see the importance of these sites in molding our country to be become what it is now and shaping its people to become who we are at present – a country and people of great history and heritage.

The Heritage City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur
The Heritage City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur
The Bantay Bellfry
The Bantay Bellfry

I may have regrets and lamentations for not traveling around discovering more heritage sites in different corners of the country, somehow I feel so privileged that in one of my humble wanderings, I was led to see and marvel at places that once shaped this nation and its people. Seeing those numbers of sites made me prouder of my race as a Filipino.

The Ruins at Corrigedor Island
The Ruins at Corrigedor Island
The Ruins of Cuartel in Oslob, Cebu
The Ruins of Cuartel in Oslob, Cebu
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Sur
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Sur

Today I say enough of lamentations, enough of so much regret. These 7,107 islands so called the Philippines host to thousands of heritage discoveries waiting to be seen, to be unearthed. I still get all the reason to wander around and see all these for myself. And I vow to see them, if not all least half of what we have.

Cagsawa Ruins at at the foot of Mount Mayon, Albay
The Cagsawa Ruins at the foot of Mount Mayon, Albay
The Ruins of the Old Church in Camguin Island
The Ruins of the Old Church in Camguin Island

Call me fortunate, I was among the chosen few flown to Manila last week to join the Wikimedia Philippines Cultural Heritage Mapping Volunteer Workshop sponsored by the Wikimedia Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It aimed to teach the participant/volunteer the fundamentals of built heritage in the Philippines, as well as training with the necessary skills in heritage documentation, heritage photography, geographic mapping and content creation using the Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and other Wikimedia projects. The workshop is an eye opener for me to understand more the value of our built heritage and why do we need to protect them.

Wikipedia Philippine Cultural Heriatge Mapping Project
Wikipedia Philippine Cultural Heriatge Mapping Project

Built Heritage is our identity. It is what makes us different from others. It shows our wealth as a nation and shows our diversity. Heritage is something that, once lost, can never be found again. And that I came to realize that we should protect it, preserve it because it is the remnants of in our glorious past that without doubt defines our present. We are part of that heritage and it is apt to preserve it.


Our built heritage represents the way of life of those who went before us – our forefathers who fought for us. It signifies their vision and aspirations and today it is bequeathed to us for us to enjoy, to enhance and to hand on to future generations.Thus, the need to protect it.

Me and the old church of St. James the Apostle Parish and the old monument of Jose Rizal in my hometown of Cateel.
St. James the Apostle Parish and the old monument of Jose Rizal in my hometown of Cateel.

Along with millions of heritage admirers across the globe, I pray that heritage conservation in this country will flourish and I pledge to take part of that conservation in my own little way. For I am a Filipino, I’m proud of my race, my history and my heritage.

By the way, just so you know, Built Heritage is described by law as any building 50 years and older.