Tuna Capital of the Philippines. Land of the Champions. These are what come to mind at the mention of General Santos City. I visited the city for some R&R together with colleagues in the media. Our trip started on a good note as our Cebu Pacific flight arrived at the General Santos International Airport 10 minutes early, which meant we had more time to tour the city before checking-in at Microtel General Santos.
|Statue and tomb of Gen. Paulino Santos, Sr.
Our first stop was the Plaza Heneral Santos where the remains of Gen. Paulino T. Santos, Sr. and his wife Elisa are entombed at the bottom of the general’s statue. The general was among the 62 pioneers who settled in the area in 1939. He led the group, organized under the National Settlement Administration, into Cotabato’s vast lands and rich marine life. Soon after, thousands more, mostly from the Visayas, migrated there. It later became a full-pledged municipality named Buayan, but was later renamed to General Santos as a tribute to the great general.
|Gen. Santos's personal diaries and passport displayed at the museum
Important memorabilia and personal effects of the general are proudly on display at the General Paulino Santos Sr. Museum, located at the University of Notre Dame of Dadiangas. Among the collections are his clothing, shoes, diaries, letters and other important documents. Also housed in the museum are equally important cultural artifacts and documents about South Cotabato and General Santos City. One corner of the museum is devoted to the people’s champ, Manny Pacquiao, where his trophies, championship belts, boxing gloves and more are showcased.
|The writer with Pacquiao's memorabilia at the Gen. Paulino Santos Museum
General Santos City is the largest producer of sashimi-grade tuna in the Philippines. The city also has the reputation as having the 2nd biggest daily total catch of fish in the entire country, the first being Navotas. It yields more than 700 metric tons of fish catch daily which are distributed across the country and exported abroad. Due to this, the city is home to 7 tuna processing plants.
|The busy tuna market at the Fishing Port Complex
The 36-hectare Fishing Port Complex is located in Brgy. Tambler and employs about 7,800 workers. Cleanliness at the complex is strictly observed. Sleeveless shirts and shorts are not allowed. Also, everyone from the workers to the visitors have to wear white boots before entering the facility. It has 4 markets, one of these is solely for tuna, which was our group’s destination. We were amazed by all the tuna, its huge size and how it is handled with great care. We noted that aside from the boots, the workers also wear plastic aprons and gloves. Even more remarkable was the lack of bad smell and flies in the area.
Of course, tuna, cooked in different ways, is never absent in the menu of every restaurant in the city. Filipino is the dominant cuisine in Gensan as guests are served savory and sumptuous fresh seafood dishes and other agricultural produce. At Tiongson Arcade is a line of restaurants to choose from. We dined at Dine Ko, where we feasted on simple but mouthwatering Filipino dishes on our first night in the city. Sarangani Highlands is another must-try as one will be treated to a view of the beautiful landscape of Gensan and Sarangani while having a bite of their gastronomic dishes.
Our group stayed at Microtel General Santos, the newest hotel in the city, located at Valley High along the National Highway. It is equipped with complete and modern facilities, first-rate security, and friendly and very efficient staff. Our room has two large chiropractor-approved beds, which made us sleep like babies every night. The room goes with free buffet breakfast. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi in the rooms and it is so fast that surfing the net or uploading pictures on Facebook is a breeze. One may contact them thru (83)553-8080 or visit their website www.microtelphilippines.com.
|Our room at Microtel Gensan
Since Microtel General Santos is located smack in the middle of the city’s commercial district, we didn’t have any hard time traveling to shopping malls as two are very accessible. SM City is simply a stone’s throw away. Robinson's Place is just a few blocks and will cost you only 8 pesos when taking the tricycle. Also among the city’s more notable malls are KCC Mall, Gaisano Mall and Veranza by KCC. If you are a fashion aficionado who loves signature items and have the budget for it, Jinkee’s Fashion World, is the place for you. It is located along Aparente Avenue, City Heights, General Santos City. Pre-owned signature bags of the owner, Jinkee Pacquiao, are also sold there.
|The writer with Michelle de Guzman of Cebu Pacific, Louine Hope Conserva,
Raymart Escopel, Zedrick Señeres and Justine Obando.
General Santos City is one scenic destination that I recommend to travelers since it offers limitless splendors of the region. It is bounded by other municipalities that offer many tourist attractions, and is teeming with the rich cultural heritage of South Cotabato.