South Cotabato Travel

South Cotabato side trips

By on August 15, 2011

side trips - front page

The two component cities in South Cotabato, Koronadal (formerly known as Marbel) and General Santos (formerly known as Dadiangas), are separated by 58 kilometers of well-paved roads. It would also take appromixately an hour to reach one destination from the other, via the Yellow Bus or a private vehicle. In both options, one could enjoy the following views: the majestic Mt. Matutum, vast pineapple plantations and lush forests. Although I previously mentioned in a travel post mortem the various sidetrips during our first trip to this province, I felt that the two or so sentences in that entry did not fully capture our experience.

side trips - balbacuahan

Some of GenSan’s balbacuahan eateries: (left then CW) Manny’s, Aweng’s and Soling’s.

Allow me to start at General Santos, which was the jumpoff in all my 3 recent trips to South Cotabato. We usually take a late breakfast at a balbacuahan before heading for Marbel which I find surprising since this city is known for tuna processing more than its delicious beef soup eateries. My personal favorite is Aweng’s Balbacuahan at Calumpang along the National Highway.

side trips - durian garden

The Durian Garden at Polomolok.

If you have made a prior reservation at Kalsangi, then this exclusive DOLE clubhouse could be your next stop. This is located at Polomok, the first municipality after General Santos. Along the way, you may have your group picture taken at a huge pineapple monument on the right side of the road. Head next for the Durian Garden, a 3 hectare property in Barangay Awas. They are famous for their durian plantation and beautiful floral gardens. Take out some of their delicious durian pies which are said to be among the best in this region.

side trips - kablon

Tupi’s Kablon Fruit Stand.

The Kablon Fruit Stands is your next pitstop which is located at Tupi. The fruits and vegetables here are really cheap in comparison to those being sold at groceries elsewhere. The produce on display are the ones in season so you can be assured that these are fresh and locally sourced as well. Buy some of the sweet ‘MG-3 pineapples’ and singkamas that you can delightfully nibble along your journey.

side trips - apareja

Koronadal’s best dessert: Apareja Buko Halo Halo.

Finally, make a mandatory stopover at Apareja Buko Halo Halo for their well, halo-halos. This is the perfect comfort snack especially during humid afternoons. I remember that it was also priced reasonably for every serving since the buko (young coconut) container is filled to overflowing with fresh fruits and sweet camote. It was also my first time to encounter the rootcrop in this Filipino dessert. It added a different texture and sweetness to the usual fruit mixture.

And I must agree that once you have tasted Apareja’s halo-halo, you definitely want to return for more. But it was quite different for me since I found myself returning to South Cotabato not for Apareja’s but for the other destinations of this beautiful province. I was indeed wrong to think that our weekend adventures in May of last year would be my last visit as I seldom return to a place where I have already visited before. It is without a doubt then that this province has a lot to offer in terms of the already popular tourist destinations, the off-the-beaten stops and even the sidetrips in between.

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Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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