I knew nothing but Pacquiao and Tuna. It’s becoming a habit. Booking for an airline seat sale and leaving on that day not knowing what to expect. So we were there at the boarding gate waiting for our plane still searching online on where to stay and what to do. With five days to explore SOCCSKSARGEN Region in Mindanao, we arrived at General Santos City with a concrete plan developed in one hour. It could work.
The early evening wind brushed against my face as we emerged at the arrival area. Taxi drivers offering their services came to us and moved away as we politely declined. Nobody bothered us again.
We walked toward the parking area where we spotted a multicab going to downtown (which is almost 40 kilometers away from the airport), we paid P50 each and enjoyed the almost one-hour ride.
I felt something wrong when I realized that we were the only ones who were left inside the multicab. The driver then asked us of our destination and softly uttered that we missed our stop. He was so gracious enough to go back and drop us near our intended place.
Our trip coincided with the annual Kalilangan Festival which brightened up the whole city. This is a Non-Smoking City tarps were scattered on every corner, people were politely obliging. Streets were closed to cars and the parks were packed with people and whatever activities there were. It was festive, in a very peaceful manner.
With our backpacks in tow, we searched for this certain grilled chicken restaurant (which we heard was the best in town) before we head to our guesthouse.
Chicken Hauz Restaurant is located at laurel East in downtown GenSan. It was dinnertime and the restaurant was almost packed with hungry diners. Skimming at the menu I knew that our budget would suffice and hopefully with happy tummies.
I ordered Chicken Barbecue with achara and rice (P70) while my buddy got some Two-piece Garlic Chicken with rice (P65) and Pork Lumpia Shanghai (P55). We were so absorbed with the TV commercials that feature local stuff when our food arrived. It was faster than two episodes of a telenovela.
The aroma from the grilled chicken was tempting. I dunk my fork into it and juices were oozing from the chicken. I grabbed a bite and tasted the delectable marinade and when I got into the succulent meat, I was saddened. It was bland and flavorless. I snatched some soy, chili and lime and pepped it up a bit. The garlic fried chicken on the other hand was juicy and tasty up to the bones. It was sad that it was the fried chicken and not the grilled one that was a hit.
We paced back at the oval plaza and went to our guesthouse.
We weren’t staying in GenSan for long so we opted to stay at Residencia Heneral, a budget hotel along Pioneer Avenue. At P250 per room per night, we had a basic room with bed and fan. There was also a shared toilet and bath. Nothing fancy, just a place to sleep near the city’s sights.
We planned on exploring the party scene that night but ended on a 10-hour uninterrupted like we had bucketsful of beer kinda sleep. I woke up, surprised that it was morning and dashed out to satisfy my caffeine cravings.
I sat on a bench at a waiting shed and bought a 12-peso coffee from a peddler. Tricycle? Day?, I politely declined the trike driver’s offer and continued with my morning ritual.
Street sweepers marched on the street while some trike drivers were playing checkers on a paved sidewalk. Smokers burning their lungs before the policemen come around. I sat there longer than expected, people-watching.
We looked out for a brekkie place before we leave the town and found an interesting cafeteria near a beach. People then were telling us to check out a public beach along P. Acharon Boulevard. The Bula Beach at seven in the morning was packed with locals who were enjoying the early morning sun.
We went back to our guesthouse, packed our things (totally forgetting about taking a shower, eek) and went to Bulaong Bus Terminal (P10 each) and went to our next destination, Lake Sebu.
We had almost three days in Lake Sebu and went back to GenSan and boarded a van going to Glan in Saranggani. After spending two days there, we went back to GenSan.
We planned on sampling the famous balbacua but we had no time. After arriving, we searched for the multicab that would take us to the airport in which nobody knew where to find it. And then a kind tricycle driver pointed us to Uhaw in GenSan. He said that we could take a tricycle to that place and from there take another one to the airport than taking a cab for around P300-P500.
And so we did. Before we could even think where to find the terminal, another tricycle driver was filling up his trike and looked at me asking if I was heading to Uhaw, what a coincidence. We then hopped on and asked the other passengers if they’d know where to drop off if we’re going to the airport. They told the driver that we would alight somewhere at the main road and then take another trike from there.
The 30-minute ride was smooth. It was amazing how the driver dropped everyone to their respective houses. The driver wanted to take us to the airport but we told him that we wanted to find something to eat. He then drove to a roadside eatery and wanted to wait for us to bring us to the airport, but we told him that we’d be okay there. He was too sweet. And as we handed our 20-peso fare, he instructed for us to just wait for another tricycle alongside the road.
We then had a hearty meal of beef noodles and tunasilog (tuna tapa). The tuna tapa was flavorful that you’d think it was pork or something. We then asked the owner on how to get to the airport. She didn’t say a word, went out and hailed a tricycle and instructed the driver of our destination. She then told us to pay P10 each for the ride. We thanked her sweet gesture and said our goodbyes.
The 5-minute ride was breezy. We were at the gate of the airport in no time. We handed our fare and considered our options on riding a cab all the way to the terminal (P50) or a multicab (P10 each) or just hike to the terminal. We chose to ride a multicab and were at the departure gate right away.
What I loved most about GenSan are the people. They are so kind and caring that they’ll go to any length just to help which is totally amazing. But who’s General Santos again? Go Google it. Haha .