August 27, 2010 marked my very first visit to General Santos City in Southern Mindanao.
Inside the plane, I was nervous (yeah, Filipinos smile the nervousness away), apprehensive and jittery.
Well, I am Luzon-born, so people from Luzon could relate with me. I don’t have a hotel reservation, no specific itinerary and to top it all, I don’t know anyone from GENSAN!
The tuna festival was moved to September 18-26. I was disgruntled, and I can’t think of anything to do in GENSAN after I learned that the Tuna Festival was moved to another date. My PAL ticket is a promo ticket which I got several months ago for P1,240 Round Trip. Promo tickets come cheap but you could not re-book or transfer them.
So, I googled about the white beach in GenSan and found GLAN, Gumasa in Saranggani Province, where my idol Manny Pacman Pacquiao is the newly elected congressman.
I thought to myself, here I come, I will be swimming non-stop for 7 days and my resolve to travel on a shoe string would be a thing of the past. The thought of shelling out more than P 20,000 pesos for my hotel accommodation made me shiver.
Armed with my backpack, life vest and snorkeling gear, I was all set for GENSAN, Wish me luck~!
Meet Tita Aliza, a native of Koronadal City also known as Marbel, South Cotabato. She was my seatmate in the plane. She is a Muslim. She’s kind hearted and offered to share the taxi with me from the airport since taxis in GENSAN don’t use meter (that reminds me of Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, where taxis don’t use meter and you have to agree for the fare beforehand. I hope Mayor Darlene would do something about this).
The usual rate is P300 (airport to Gensan proper). Tita Aliza convinced me to go to Lake Sebu, instead of Glan, Gumasa in Saranggani. I readily agreed. So I changed my destination to LAKE SEBU! I was so excited and nervous at the same time! From the airplane’s window, I saw Mt. Matutum for the very first time. Yehey!
Then our plane smoothly lands at the General Santos International airport and we walked from the plane to the arrival area of Gensan airport.
After we disembarked @ GENSAN INT’L AIRPORT, we waited for our checked-in bags at the carousel. This took so long because suddenly it rained after we disembarked from the PAL plane. So, while waiting, I posed for posterity in front of the poster of the tuna festival inside the airport (see picture below).
After eternity or so it seems, our checked-in baggage finally came. We went out of the airport and saw a huge number of people waiting outside. Different mode of transportation were available pala. There are jeepneys, taxis, free shuttles of different hotels and habal habal (single motorcycle). We rode a taxi, and off we went to TOYOTA GENSAN branch, where we were supposed to pick up Tita Aliza’s vehicle, which she left a week before. Service in that particular branch is super slow, so Tita Aliza had to come back another day. So, we waited for a YELLOW BUS which, they said, was the usual mode of transport going to and from Marbel town, then a non-aircon van pulled over and tempted Tita Aliza with a lower fare. So we got in, but the van stopped and pulled over whenever the driver saw a prospective passenger. Tita Aliza decided we will disembark in POLOMOLOK, so we can transfer to a YELLOW BUS. The bus ride from Polomolok to Marbel was smooth and comfortable since the yellow bus has an aircon. Tita Aliza instructed me to ride another yellow bus from Marbel to SURALLAH town. We said our goodbyes and off I went to the terminal across from where I alighted.
I hurriedly crossed the Ped Xing ( Pedestrian Crossing, in case you are thinking it is a Chinese term, lols) towards the yellow bus terminal and looked for the SURALLAH signboard from the lines of buses @ the terminal. Inside the Bus I met Tita Sally, a retired teacher who will be visiting her mother in Surallah. With her is her 78 year old aunt. According to Tita Sally, her mother is 80 years old and will be turning 81. She even invited me to come to the birthday party the following day.
When we arrived in Surralah, they instructed me to look for a jeepney with a sign- Lake Sebu @ the terminal. Inside the jeepney bound for Lake Sebu, I met Tita Linda Weaver, she’s from T’boli tribe, and she is very accommodating. She was the one who helped me find a lodge and toured me around. We even visited her house and that of her daughter Lyn lyn.
When she showed me where to eat, Tita Linda brought with her, her granddaughter Moonie, who is so cute and bubbly. We ate fresh tilapia at a restaurant with the very picturesque Lake Sebu as a backdrop. Total lunch bill is around P250.00, inclusive of 4 servings of rice, 2 bottles of pop cola, 1 kilo of Tilapia. It rained while we were eating our late lunch, so we stayed put for a while inside the resto where Tita Linda had a concert @ the videoke machine to while the time away. After the rain we went to check inn @ the lodge ( P60.00/ head)
This is the P 60.00/ night bed in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
|LAKE SEBU FLOATING RESTAURANT @ PUNTA ISLA
After checking in, we went out and toured Punta Isla. Transport cost to and from Punta Isla is P130.00 (P 10 pesos from her house to the resto, then P120 going to the inn and then to Punta Isla then back to her house where we fetched her friend whom she invited to join us in the inn for the night, and then back to the lodge.) If you are alone, I think you will spend around P30.00 for the habal habal ( I learned that habal habal fare is from P5 to P15 only.)
|VIEW FROM THE SUNSET DECK OF PUNTA ISLA
MY TAKE ON TILAPIA PHOTOGRAPHY @PUNTA ISLA,
FRESH TILAPIA FOR SALE @ P 170/ KILO