Ask anyone about the town of Glan in Sarangani Province and
they’ll think of Gumasa Beach, that long stretch of white sand beach that hosts
the biggest beach party in Mindanao. However, this southern frontier outpost
has another thing in its arsenal—its cultural heritage, especially those
preserved old houses in its downtown.
Glan was one of the first agricultural colonies that were
established during the early American Colonial Period. Located in the far south of
Mindanao, it became a settlement of the first “Kristyano” migrants in Mindanao.
Notably, majority of the settlers here were from the densely-packed island of
Cebu. The interactions between the
indigenous Blaan and Maguindanaoans, and its isolation from the rest of the
world have created a hodgepodge of cultures that became what is known as Glan
|The ornate kalados of one of Alegado houses|
Its economy was once based solely on coconut plantations—probably
that may rival Quezon Province. The prosperity it brought in the town was
reflected in the construction of the stately houses that line up the town’s
streets—probably one of the rare gems in this side of the country.
|A signboard of a bygone era, when Glan was still part of the empire province of Cotabato.|
Because of the late development in Southern Mindanao, this
part of the country lacks those heritage houses and buildings that Luzon and
the Visayas have to offer. However in Glan, the relative distance from the
urban cores has preserved some of these heritage houses that are reflective of
the “colono architecture of Southern
|Colono architecture in Southern Mindanao is known for its no non-sense and practicality in terms of design. It lacks the intricate designs that most of the heritage houses in the Luzon and the Visayas have. It reflects its outpost heritage.|
|The colono heritage houses in Southern Mindanao were much simple in terms of aesthetic design, which is reflective of its heritage as an outpost far from the urban cores.|
The Kristyano migrant
population of Glan, locally known as “colonos,”
brought with them some of the things that remind them of their home like the
Bisaya language, puto maya and sikwati combi (rice cake and dark chocolate
drink), torta (another variety of rice cake), and pan de Bisaya. Aside from these, it can be seen in the town’s local
architecture. They built houses that reflect the designs of the homes,
particularly the Visayas.
|An old commercial-residential building in downtown Glan|
|An old house in Glan. The ground floor is being used as an office of the Department of Agrarian Reform. The tenants have experiences here of both the physical and---spiritual?|
While colono houses and buildings of southern Mindanao is known
for its no non-sense and practical approach of using wooden planks devoid of
intricate patterns and all those shiz seen in Manila, Luzon, Visayas, and northern
Mindanao, Glan stood out. Some of the houses, particularly of the houses of
Alegado clan took time to “dress up” their houses with intricate wooden
carvings on their houses called kalados—which
is a rare sight here.
|The intricate kalados inside one of the Alegado houses.|
|The intricate kalados of Alegado House overlooking the commercial center of the town and the coconut plantations from afar.|
|The Alegado House|
According to the locals, the kalados in these houses remind them of their hometown, their place
of origin—particularly the heritage city of Carcar in Cebu, already known for
its old historic houses.
Another well-preserved heritage house is located a few kilometres
outside of the town’s centre, which is owned by the Aquinos (not related to the
presidential family). Hacienda Don Juan Resort’s heritage house was saved from
destruction, and is now a centrepiece of the resort as the resort restaurant
and a mini-museum. The house is only one of the few “barrio houses” left in the
|The barrio house at Hacienda Don Juan Resort. The house was said to have been saved from the forces of nature and time, and was restored.|
|A mini museum inside the old house at Hacienda Don Juan|
|Inside the old house at Hacienda Don Juan|
Aside from these outstanding houses, the town also has a
Gabaldon school building (colonial era school) together with a grove of large
acacia trees that make up the landscape of this town.
On one side of the town plaza lays the old and wooden
Dispensary or dispensaryo, the old
health center of the town. Small, simple, stilted, yet its floors are tiled
with imported materials. It holds dearly to a lot of locals in Glan, both happy
and painful memories, from birthing, to cures, circumcisions, and even dates.
|The lanes of old acacia trees, said to have been planted by the colonos themselves, are part of the heritage school's landscape.|
|Glan Central School, a Gabaldon-type school building|
|Students wait for their class to be dismissed.|
Today, the Dispensary lies abandoned and in trouble of being
won over by the elements. However, the good news is that the local government
of Glan is planning to have it rehabbed and make it as a local museum.
Personally, we’re looking forward for that.
|The old dispensary building of Glan lays abandoned. Despite it being a simple wooden building, it is very memorable and significant to the locals of Glan. The local government has a plan to convert this building into a local museum.|
|The town's plaza and the locals taking chill in the afternoon.|
Glan’s built heritage could have been greater if the
municipal hall, designed by no other than renowned architect Juan Arellano,
have pushed through before the War. The proposed building brings the neo-classical
towards the neo-vernacular design, incorporating Moro architecture with the
Western elements. We saw a copy of the proposed plans recently, but we were
unable to get a copy of it.
|One of the old houses in Glan|
|One of the old houses in Glan|
|One of the Alegado houses in Glan|
Like any other heritage towns in the Philippines, Glan’s
wooden houses are up against the elements, development, neglect, among other
issues. According to one of the Alegados we had a short conversation with; it
really takes a lot of effort in maintaining these old houses especially that
wood isn’t conveniently bought in a hardware store nowadays.
|A block of old houses in Glan, notably owned by the Alegado clan|
|The acacia grove and the old house in Glan, near the plaza.|
Some of the owners of these old houses have left the country
to seek greener pastures. Some of these were taken care of by a caretaker or a
relative. Some of them have some family issues, to which the fate of the house
is in peril.
|Commercial-residential and kalado|
|One of those old houses with media agua on its windows.|
Challenging as it may be seen, the people of Glan are proud
of their cultural heritage. Several initiatives have already been made and
placed to protect not just the beach that attracts thousands annually during a
party, but also taking care of its cultural heritage—of both tangible, and
intangible, and make it as a “cultural capital” that would help the town
|The historic monument of the colonos near the port.|
This town has a lot to offer for a suntan, not just only in the beach. Take a
stroll one morning. Have some puto maya and sikwati at the local market and
then head to the pier to where the colonos
first landed during sunset. We’re sure you’ll be relaxed in Tour Town Glan.
|A map of old houses in Glan in Sarangani. You can download this and serve as a guide for your walking tour in Glan.|