Once again, I had the privilege to be given another out-of-town assignment. This time, it was in beautiful General Santos City. Dismayed with our previous Cebu trip because of the lack of time to roam around, we were determined to make our Mindanao trip worthwhile.
|General Santos City International Airport|
We arrived in GenSan on a Thursday. The lack of sleep didn’t douse our excitement a bit. Our friend Rose Celis, branch Account Officer, picked us up from the General Santos City International Airport. We were to meet the rest of the branch officers for brunch, Rose told us. The ride from the airport was a long one but it was also a chance to marvel at the beautiful GenSan countryside with its rolling plains and pastureland.
At around 10 AM, we arrived at the Sarangani Highlands, a beautiful oasis amidst the bucolic landscape. Rose introduced us to the others who were waiting. After just a few moments, we warmed up to the hospitality that is GenSan. Before our lunch, we toured Sarangani Highlands and saw the magnificent hand-painted doors of the rooms. The sleeping quarters had the feel of a villa mixed with indigenous materials. The owner even showed us the room where Shamcey Supsup stayed at during her visit to the place.
It was past 11 AM and we were all hungry. We ordered two of Sarangani Highlands’ bestsellers — Arroz ala Sarangani and sizzling bangus belly. Likewise, we ordered the famous Alamid coffee. Needless to say, the food, the coffee, the ambiance and the view of Sarangani Bay were absolutely perfect. After our sumptuous meal, we headed to the branch and spent the rest of the afternoon working.
|Sizzling Bangus Belly – Sarangani Highlands|
|Arroz a la Sarangani – Sarangani Highlands|
After our chores for the day, we were treated to a dinner — no, a feast! — in one
of the humble restaurants in the area. Grilled tuna panga, clam soup, a great-tasting fish whose name I forgot, and bihod adobo. Bihod or fish roe has always intrigued me because it seemed so rich and tasty in pictures.
The following day was all work. We were just relieved that the inauguration went well. The highlight of the event was the whole fresh tuna carved and served as sashimi.
|…and more fireworks|
Day 3 at GenSan, Saturday. Now it was time for some serious adventure. Rose and Felix met us at the branch at around 1PM.
|Grand winner of the tuna float de
|Sculptures at the provincial capitol|
|Sarangani Provincial Capitol|
|Sarangani Provincial Capitol|
|The gold-plated Glan Municipal Hall|
|Another majestic view of Sarangani Bay|
From there, we drove all the way to Sarangani Bay in Gumasa, Sarangani — around 2 hours of continuous driving. We arrived at Sarangani Bay at a little past 3PM then ordered lunch at Isla Jardin Resort. We had fish belly; perhaps the best way to really savor the taste of this coastal province is to sample its fish dishes.
|Fish belly at Isla Jardin Resport|
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around the white sands of Sarangani Bay and taking shots of the horizon as well as the mangrove trees. By 5:30 PM, we thought it best to head back to GenSan because of the long drive.
|White sands of Sarangani Bay|
|Rose, Felix & Rayne|
|Beautiful Sarangani Bay|
|Mangrove – Sarangani Bay|
|Final shot before we left|
We were at GenSan by 7PM, and very hungry. We bought isaw and barbecue at a local shop. We then proceeded to the Tiongson Arcade where they sell fresh produce like meat, fish, clams and seaweeds.
|Fresh tilapia at Tiongson Arcade|
|Fresh catfish on skewers|
|Bagaybay or tuna sperm sacs|
|Clams for the perfect soup|
The food is cooked after the order is placed. Food must be very good as the place was packed. We bought clams, tilapia and another type of fish. In a few minutes, clam soup, crispy-fried tilapia (they call it fish chicharon) and buttered fish were served. Once again, it was gastronomic heaven.
After the splendid dinner, it was time for some dessert and coffee. We drove to Blugre Coffee at Robinson’s for our sugar and caffeine fixes. I ordered ice-blended durian coffee with whipped cream. It smelled like authentic durian and it tasted good. I just didn’t like its consistency which was a bit too thick so you quickly get thirsty with each gulp.
|Slice of chocolate cake swimming in cream – Blugre Cafe|
|Durian coffee which was a little bit too rich – Blugre Cafe|
Sunday, our last Day at GenSan. Rose met us at the lodge after our breakfast. We were to go to South Cotabato, specifically at Mt. Matutum. We were to attend Mass at the Trappistine Monastery at the foot of Mt. Matutum. On the way to Mt. Matutum, there were endless pineapple fields. I later found out that this was Dole’s. Monotonous view but charming nonetheless.
|Trappistine Monastery at the foot of Mt. Matutum, South Cotabato|
We arrived at the Monastery just in time for the Mass and the first thing that greeted us were the angelic voices of the nuns. After the Mass, the people trooped to the Monastery’s store to buy pastries. The nuns sold cookies, handicrafts and other baked goodies to supplement their income.
Our flight was at 3PM that afternoon so we still had time for a quick lunch. And quick indeed was our lunch at Jollibee. Rose and his younger brother accompanied us to the airport. We wanted to stay a bit longer in GenSan but, alas, we had work waiting for us in Manila. We promised Rose that we will see each other again in more adventures. We had Corregidor and Tagaytay in our priority list. I promised myself that I would be back in Mindanao someday.
A few moments later, we were air bound. We slept through the entire flight because we were tired from all the driving and nights out.
We were in Manila by 5:30 PM. Later that evening, we were at Rayne’s house for dinner and a few drinks in celebration of his birthday.
It was a weekend well-spent; full of unforgettable food, places and new acquiantances.