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Diocese of Marbel

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Diocese of Marbel
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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.


(Dioecesis Marbelianae)

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.


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.

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.


  • Airport
    General Santos International Airport is an airport serving the general area of General Santos City, located in the province of South Cotabato in the Philippines. The airport is located in Barangay Fatima, but is usually believed to be located in nearby Barangay Tambler, hence the alternate name Tambler Airport. The airport is classified as an international airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, a body of the Department of Transportation and Communications that is responsible for the operations of not only this airport but also of all other airports in the Philippines except the major international airports.

    The airport replaced the old General Santos airport located in Barangay Buayan on July 6, 1996 and as such has inherited the old airport's IATA airport code, GES. The old airport now serves as the Rajah Buayan Air Base.

  • Seaport
    The Port of General Santos or Makar Wharf is situated at the southern coast of Mindanao. It includes all the sections of Sarangani Bay stretching from the Bay from Tampuan to Sumpang Point. It also includes the foreshore and delineated portions of the Wharf. It serves as the central depot of people, trade, and commerce in the South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos (SOCCSKSARGEN) regions. As it is typhoon free and its waters are tightly guarded, Makar Wharf is one of the busiest harbors in this region.

    The Makar Wharf is recognized as the second most active port in the Southern Mindanao region. It consolidates all the raw materials being generated by the SOCCSKSARGEN area. It is also the primary route of the Gensan-Bituing route in connection with its role in the BIMP-EAGA cooperation. It likewise maintains progressive shipping businesses with the top local and foreign routes. Here we will look at how to reach General Santos by boat.



    Annual per capita income (in Philippine Peso; excludes General Santos City) is 25,321 (USD590 as of April 2011).

    Annual per capita income (in Philippine Peso) is 16,201 (USD377 as of April 2011).

    Annual per capita income (in Philippines Peso) is 15,350 (USD358 as of April 2011).

  • Major Agricultural Products
    Rice, Corn, Coconut, Palm Oil (priority industry in 2005 by Virtue of EO. Number 7 series of 2004)

    Sultan Kudarat is basically an agricultural province. It is blessed with rich and enormous agrarian areas. Coconut, sugarcane, abaca, tobacco and ramie are the region's top major crops and also, one of the few growers of Irish potatoes in the Philippines. Other industries in the province include logging, cornstarch milling and the processing of raw rubber into latex. The largest grain-processing complex in the country, the Southern Philippines Grains Complex is located in the town of Tacurong.

    General Santos City is known as the Philippines "Tuna Capital." Tuna is among the 200 or so species of fish found in the country that have high commercial value. The Philippines ranks 7th among the top tuna producing countries in the world, both in terms of fresh/frozen tuna and canned tuna.

  • Industrial Product
    Wood and Bamboo Crafts, Agricultural Machineries, Cutflowers



  • Wireless System
    For cellular phone communications, Smart Communications, Globe Telecommunications and Sun Cellular offer network coverage within the city and link to the rest of the world. Out of the three companies, only Smart Communications set up its branch office in the city.

  • Telephone Systems
    The Marbel Telephone Systems, Inc. (MTSI) is the first telephone company that operated in the city. It started on Sept. 11, 1963 and from then on the company established a series of firsts in the telephone industry in the city as well as in the province. It is the first to operate the dial system, the first digital telephone exchange equipment, the first to offer the direct distance facility and the wireless local loop system.

    Currently, there are 3 telephone companies in the city: Marbel Telephone Systems, Inc. National Telephone Project (NTP) Koronadal Telephone Exchange under the DOTC and PLDT.

  • TV and radio stations
    There are 3 AM radio stations (DXMC Bombo Radyo, DXKI and DXKR Radyo Agong) and 1 FM radio station is limited to the province. A lone television network, ABS-CBN, operates within the city with coverage reaching the entire province.

    Further, the people of Koronadal enjoy cable TV either through the Sugni Cable TV or Marbel Cable TV. The number of subscribers, the rates and the capacity of the Sugni Cable TV are provided.



    Literacy rate (simple literacy) is 89.44 percent.

    Literacy rate (simple literacy) is 83.96 percent.

    Literacy rate (simple literacy) 80.39 percent.

    Schools are classified into public (government) and private (non-government). Classes start in June, and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October, and November to March.

    The general pattern of formal education follows by five stages:
  • Pre-primary level - nursery and kindergarten offered in most private schools;
  • Primary level - six years of basic education;
  • Secondary level - four years of high school education;
  • Tertiary level - usually takes four years, sometimes five and in some cases as in medical and law schools.
  • Graduate level - additional two or more years of schooling.



  • T'nalak Festival
    The T'nalak is an intricately woven tapestry of intense and striking colors. The hues of intertwined abaca fabric depict the vivid spirit of the people whom this unique and artistic weaving has invariably come to represent.

    This symbol of woven dreams is a fundamental part of South Cotabato culture, a culture steeped in mystique. The T'nalak Festival is an annual celebration that commemorates the Foundation Anniversary of the dynamic South Cotabato province amidst the dual presence of tradition and progress.

    Much like the choreographed contrast of this unique tapestry, the T'nalak Festival is a mix of varied events that likewise characterize the South Cotabato people and their vibrant spirit, a people, whose distinct culture and multi-ethnicity contribute to the image of this emerging province - a province that is steadfast in weaving its wealth towards advancement, and a province undoubtedly beyond compare. From colorful street dancing, pulsating street parties and innovative trade expos the T'nalak Festival has it all.

  • Kawayan Festival and National Arts Month Celebration
    The Kawayan (Bamboo) Festival held in collaboration with National Arts Month every February aims to showcase South Cotabato's best in terms of products, investment potential, tourist attractions and traditions (through music, dance and culinary arts with particular focus on kawayan (bamboo) and diverse finished products that may be made from this viable material as it is rapidly becoming a dominant source of economic activity throughout the province.

  • December Festival and Bazaar
    To add merriment to the yuletide season the festival aims to provide a jovial atmosphere in the province and at the same time generate activity among its constituents held from the first day of the month to mid December. The December Festival and Bazaar involves a bazaar with a wide array of products to choose from as well as a plant exhibit for those with a green thumb. The public are also invited to watch the nightly Christmas presentations, dine at the food court and enjoy the nightly live band entertainment.

  • Hinugyaw Festival
    The City of Koronadal celebrates its foundation every Jan. 10. The province's agri-industrial, commercial, service and administrative center highlights the "accelerating pace of development" through the conduct of activities that showcase the city's diverse cultures and potentials.

  • Hinublag Festival
    During this festival the municipality of Sto. Niño celebrates its emancipation anniversary. This agriculturally blessed municipality is called the rice bin of the province. The Hinublag Festival is held from Jan. 11 to 18. A highlight of the festival is the street dancing competition in honor of the municipality's patron saint, Sto. Niño.

  • Lum'Alay Festival
    This is a commemoration of the municipality of Tampakan's Foundation Anniversary. This festival is a celebration of good harvest of lubi (coconut), mais (corn) and palay (rice) which falls every June 21. The activities include street dancing, a culinary arts competition and ball games among others.

  • Tantangan's Foundation Anniversary
    Taken from the word "Kulitantangan," the ringing of a bell when there is a gathering, the municipality of Tantangan is known for its clay pots and ceramics made by local artisans and craftsmen. Tantangan celebrates its foundation anniversary every Jan. 27.

  • Dagun-Dagun sa Dalan Festival
    Banga, the corn production center of South Cotabato celebrates its foundation every March 1 with a colorful Dagun-Dagun sa Dalan festival.

  • Kamayadan Festival
    Coined from an Ilonggo term "mayad" which means "good." Kamayadan Festival depicts a celebration of thanksgiving for good harvest. The rice granary of the province, Norala commemorates its foundation from March 1 to 10, complemented with various activities that define the municipality's abundance.

  • Seslong Festival
    This festival is a celebration that portrays the gathering of people to barter goods. The municipality of Tboli showcases its unique ethnicity from March 5 to 16. Known as the center for eco-cultural tourism, the people of the highlands reflect the cultural heritage and ancestry of the province.

  • Lembohung Festival
    (Celebrated Every December during Christmas Festival) Lembohung Festival primarily showcases the rich and unique culture of the original inhabitants of Surallah which are the Tagabili tribe. It aims to sustain the preservation, promotion and development of arts, culture and tradition to foster the essence of peace and harmony among its people.

    Lembohung comes from the combined T'boli words "Lem" and 'Bohung", the first means "within" and the latter is a pineapple-like ornamental plant with white flowers in between its leaves. This plant abundantly thrives in the area which the natives called LEMBOHUNG now known as Barangay Libertad of Poblacion of Surallah.

    Being the trade center (Seslong) and convergent point of other socio-cultural activities, Lembohung serves as a venue for interaction among early settlement groups comprised of native inhabitants and later on the Christian settlers from Luzon and Visayas during the settlement period.

  • Flom'lok Festival
    Flom'lok is taken from a B'laan word which means "hunting ground." The people of Polomolok celebrate this by showcasing the local products and a mix of socio-cultural activities. Home to one of the world's largest pineapple plantations, Polomolok commemorates its foundation from September 2 to 16 with true South Cotabato flair.

  • Lemlunay Festival
    The Sta. Cruz Mission Schools Foundation Inc. located in the municipality of Lake Sebu celebrates its festival every September with true cultural fanfare.

  • Kapatagan/Kariton Ati-Atihan Festival
    Tupi, best known for its vast plantations of flowers and fruits, commemorates its foundation anniversary every 1st day of October. This is an annual celebration of the municipality that includes street dancing and a parade of "karitons" (carts) drawn by "carabaos" (water buffalos).

  • Helobung Festival
    Every November 9 to 11, the municipality of Lake Sebu, the summer capital and the eco-cultural center of South Cotabato, celebrates its foundation anniversary reflecting the unique cultural identity and ethnicity of the province.



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