In a land area of 7,469 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the Civil Provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani, the City of General Santos and some parts of Sultan Kudarat.
South Cotabato is located in the southern part of the island of Mindanao. It is bounded by the province of Sultan Kudarat in the north and west, in the east and south by the city of General Santos and province of Sarangani.
Sarangani is a province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) region in Mindanao. Its capital is Alabel and borders South Cotabato to the north and Davao del Sur to the east. To the south lies the Celebes Sea, while it sandwiches at the center the highly urbanized city of General Santos.
General Santos City is located in the southern part of the country, in the province of South Cotabato. It is bounded by three municipalities of Sarangani Province and two municipalities of South Cotabato, namely Alabel, Malungon, Maasim, Polomolok and T'boli.
Sultan Kudarat is a province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao. Its capital is Isulan and borders Maguidanao and Cotabato to the north, South Cotabato and Sarangani to the south, and Davao del Sur to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the west.
South Cotabato consisted of 10 municipalities, namely: Banga, Glan, Kiamba, Koronadal, Maitum, Norala, Polomolok, Surallah, Tantangan and Tupi; 1 independent city: General Santos, 1 component city: Koronadal with 225 barangays which subdivided into 2 congressional districts.
These municipalities were established long before the creation of the province. Other component municipalities were constituted after it fully functioned as a province. A total of 18 municipalities have contributed much to the development of South Cotabato being one of the fast growing provinces in the country.
The birth of Sarangani Province, conceived from the municipalities of Malungon, Alabel, Malapatan, Glan, Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum has brought changes in the geography and political subdivisions of the province. That event left South Cotabato with 11 remaining municipalities.
Further, on Aug. 16, 2000, Republic Act No. 8803 was approved. This marks another milestone in the history of South Cotabato. This is an act that converts the municipality of Koronadal into a component city of South Cotabato. Thus, at present the province is left with ten (10) progressing municipalities and the City of Koronadal remains as its Provincial Capital.
Moreover, South Cotabato has a total of 199 barangays (villages) and two (2) more are being proposed and still waiting for the approval of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). These proposed barangays are both under the municipality of T'boli.
As of year end 2016, the total population of Marbel diocese is 1,931,235 of which 79 percent are Catholics.
The people of South Cotabato are multilingual, able to communicate in Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Tagalog and English (use as medium of instruction in schools and used in business transactions and government official communications). The indigenous tribes, in addition, use their own tribal dialects. A situation wherein several people, each speaking solely in his own dialect and are still able to communicate with the others.
DIOCESE OF MARBEL
Suffragan of Cotabato
Created as Prelature: Dec. 17, 1960
Elevated to Diocese: November 15, 1982
Comprises the Civil Provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani, the City of General Santos and some parts of Sultan Kudarat
Titular: Christ the King
The Diocese of Marbel was established as Prelature Nullius of Marbel on Dec. 17, 1960. It was released from the Metropolitan right of the Archdiocese of Davao and became suffragan of the newly created Archdiocese of Cotabato when the latter was elevated to the rank of an archdiocese in 1979. The Prelature of Marbel was elevated to a Diocese on Nov. 19, 1982. The Titular of the Diocese is Christ the King.
Originally, the Diocese of Marbel, like all of Southern Mindanao was inhabited mostly by Maguindanao Muslims and non-Christian minority tribes. (The very few Christians the Jesuits of Zamboanga served lived along the seacoast).
In 1939, the National Land Settlement Act opened South Cotabato to migrants from all parts of the country. In these years the place was served by the OMI Fathers of the Prelature of Cotabato under Most Rev. Gerard Mongeau, OMI, DD. After World War II, they continued to establish parishes and Notre Dame Schools in the area. Marist Brothers and religious Sisters were called to help develop the fast-growing Notre Dame schools.
In 1958, the Passionists came to serve South Cotabato. In December 1960 the area became the Prelature of Marbel under Most Rev. Quentin Olwell, CP, DD, as first Bishop. Bishop Olwell established additional parishes, strengthened the Notre Dame schools and implemented the reforms of Vatican II.
On Oct. 24, 1970, Most Rev. Reginald Arliss, CP, DD, was installed as the second bishop under whose term new programs and developments were initiated to answer the needs of the time especially in the period after Martial Law had been declared. (Near the end of his term, he initiated the building of Basic Christian Communities as the primary thrust of the Prelature.)
After he retired in 1981, Most Rev. Dinualdo Gutierrez, D.D. became the new Bishop by succession. Then Father Dinualdo Gutierrez, Vicar General of Capiz, was named Co-adjutor Bishop (cum jure successionis) of Marbel. Upon the resignation of Bishop Arliss in October of the same year, Bishop Gutierrez became the third Prelate Ordinary and inherited a progressive and well-run episcopal seat. His early task was to create the necessary structures to coordinate the various apostolates and programs in the Prelature at a diocesan level. Hence, the whole jurisdiction was divided into four pastoral areas (the canonical equivalent of vicariates). Different coordinating bodies were set up at this level.
Marbel was elevated to a diocese in November 1982 and Bishop Gutierrez became the first residential bishop of the new diocese. As a diocese, it comprises the whole province of South Cotabato and two municipalities of Sultan Kudarat.
VISION, MISSION AND THRUST OF THE DIOCESE OF MARBEL
VISION OF THE CHURCH
A worshipping, witnessing and serving Community of Disciples of Jesus Christ striving to become a Church of the Poor in dialogue with life and faith of other cultures.
VISION OF SOCIETY
A liberated and integral society which is God-centered (maka-Diyos), democratic (maka-tao), nationalistic (maka-bansa), just (makatarungan), respectful of human life (maka-buhay) and the integrity of creation (maka-kalikasan).
Integral Evangelization: To proclaim and witness to the Gospel of salvation and liberation through Massive Education in the Faith, Solid Organizing, Inculturated and Contextualized Worship and Transformative Social Apostolate.
The Building and Strengthening of "Gagmay'ng Kristohanong Katilingban" (Small Christian Communities or Basic Ecclesial Communities) towards Integral Liberation and Development in order to bring about the "New Self" (Eph. 4:24) and the "New Earth" (2 Pet. 3:13), thereby glorifying God.
Origin of the name Marbel
The name Marbel comes from the B'laan word "Malbel" which means muddy water. The place is also known as Koronadal which comes from another B'laan word "Kolon-na-datal" meaning a cogonal area or valley, a land/area overgrown with cogon (tall grass).
Region XII was previously called Central Mindanao and originally included the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao. The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1990 left Central Mindanao with only Lanao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato. Then, on September 19, 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Executive Order No. 36 reorganized the regions and provinces in Mindanao. This moved changed Region XII into the present SOCCSKSARGEN.
A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.
Buses and jeepneys wielding routes within, to and from the growth region, getting to your place of destination is a comfort.
Tricycles - three wheeled motorcycles with side-cars are the City's main mode of land transportation and have been in the road since the pioneering times. The people in the far-flung baranggays are also using motorcycles, popularly known as skylabs or habal-habal, to transport goods and passengers.
Air-conditioned taxis and rent-a-cars are also readily available. The Pan-Philippine Highway links GenSan to other Major cities in Mindanao and to the rest of the Philippines.
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