Project Aerie showed me that South Cotabato is far from the war-torn region described by a popular Asin song. The residents have somehow fostered deep respect for each other’s differences and stewardship for their environment over the years. Since its provincehood forty years ago, it has been aggressively positioning itself to become one of the major eco-tourism destinations in the Philippines.
But I must admit that the province was not in my bucket list this year. It was then Michaela’s curiosity of a certain ‘eagle’s cove’ in Lake Sebu that sparked Project Aerie. She wrote it down as one of her midyear goals during our meeting last January. Soon enough, our young professional group became interested with the idea. After we bought our promo flights, she then drafted an itinerary together with the other ladies in the group who also hailed from the same province.
What we did
activities: arrival in General Santos City Domestic Airport, sidetrips at Durian Garden at Polomolok, Apareja’s Buko Halo-Halo (This has sweet camote chunks but it tasted really good.) and the Kablon fruitstand (you could buy ridiculously low priced fruits here) at Koronadal
cleaning a live Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) at the 7 Falls, preparing the groceries for a mini-outreach, Cyel’s first Durian bite.
activities: bought pasalubong at the General Santos Airport and we almost missed our flight back to Cebu.
What else could be done
If we had enough time and budget, we could have stopped over Kalsangi Golf Course and Blooming Petals. For those who want to experience a different culture, you could spend some time with a T’boli family or with Lang Dulay, a National Living Treasure Awardee. A boat tour around Lake Sebu is also offered by nearby resorts. You must also try riding an owong, a dug-out native canoe. A short trip to Barangay Tasiman is an off-beat tourist destination.
But if given another opportunity, I would like to be back for a trek to Lake Holon or perhaps participate in Amyak Maleh sometime in March.
How much was the damage
Excluding airfare, I spent Php 1400++ for 3 days and 3 nights.
We spent the first 2 evenings in tents and the last in a friend’s house. We stretched Php 1800 (groceries and 2.5 kilos, at Php 80/kilo, of live Tilapia) for 5 meals (at least 10 persons in every time). Our most expensive meal perhaps was our lunch at Punta Isla. We spent Php 2400.00 but that was even a bargain: for 8 generous servings of Tilapia dishes, it satisfyingly overfed 11 persons.
We hired a van for Php 2500 in Day 1. This took us from General Santos Airport up to Lake Sebu. This may have taken a dent in our budget but the tradeoff is worth every centavo. Public transport along the national highway is hard to come by. We also did not have enough time for every transport stopover and transfer (jeepneys, taxis, motorcycles and buses). By the way, watch out for the ridiculous ‘fixed’ rates charged by the airport taxis at the General Santos Airport.
Ladies and gentlemen, that wraps up Project Aerie. If you have gone to South Cotabato recently, what other destinations, sidetrips, activities future travelers must not miss next time?
Post mortems like this would hopefully become a regular feature in Baktin Corporation. It is a simple review on a recent travel I have done – budget tips, off-beaten paths and to-do items later on. It is not comprehensive and may not be updated. There are other information you can get from travel blogs, government tourism portals and LGU websites. But you can start drafting your itinerary with this post as a reference.