More than Tuna…

General Santos has an array of good eats that made me more than smile.  Here’s what has landed on the top of my list.

Durian Gatchpuccino – cappuccino with a twist

Named after its owner Gatchi Gatchialian, I reckon. Blugre Coffee, originally from Davao, became famous for their Durian coffee concoction.

Heard so much about it and the first thing I did was head over to GMP building, along South Osmeña Street to see what the rave was all about.

It’s cappuccino with durian bits, indeed something to rave about if you love durian – of course.

Durian – the fruit

As you have probably noticed by now, I have this love affair with durian – wasn’t love at first sight though but I was rather introduced to it gradually.  I first tasted Durian flavored pastillas (milk candy) years ago and loved it, and then I discovered Durian ice cream, totally adored it.  I eventually had a go at the actual fruit, frozen at first — tasted very much like the ice cream.  And for more than a decade now, I am more than smitten.

GenSan, as with many places in Southern Philippines, is Durian haven and walking home from dinner,

we (the durian addicts) grabbed ourselves some and had a feast.

Six’ Bling’s

(Not a very good shot of an ) Ostrich Sisig

The only restaurant in GenSan that offers ostrich and crocodile delicacies but more than these, we had some pretty good appetizers too.

One that caught our eye was “Dili Ka GuaPo” (translated in English as “you’re not handsome”) – a mix of crispy fried dilis (anchovies) kag (is “and” in Bisaya) sliced guava, and pomelo dressed in vinaigrette, hence the name.  Aside from its eye-catching name, it is a refreshing combination of salty, sweet and sour.  Located at the NCCC compound off the National Highway, this wonderful find is a must-try when in GenSan.

And since it’s GenSan, we had to have our tuna, this time we had it kinilaw (tuna cooked in vinegar),

and grilled, as recommended.

Best paired with perfectly chilled San Mig Light beer below zero.  Ahhh…

Useful Information:

Six’ Bling’s
Contact No.:  (083) 553-8808; (083) 3021961; (0917) 715-2528; (0922) 859-1961

Go Fish!

Tuna fishers in a busy international fishport, porters hauling them off to be weighed in the market… a scene we almost did not get to see.

Up at the crack of dawn, I got ready to meet up with the others to visit GSFPC – that’s General Santos Fish Port Complex.  We walked a few blocks from our hotel, hopped on a jeep that took us to the gate of the fish port only to be told to go fish!  Haha!  They apparently have this rule of no shorts, sandals or slippers on the complex.  And all 6 of us were either in shorts, slippers or sandals.  Defeated and disappointed, we turned back without a plan B really.  As we turned around to walk back, we saw someone come out of the complex wearing the forbidden and we thought, “hey not fair!”.  We therefore argued with the guards who were steadfast not to let us in (maybe even more so now).  Just at that very moment, a man in shorts and sandals on a motorbike came up to us (as he was entering the facilities) and asked if we were visiting.  And that man, our savior, turned out to be the Chief of harbor operations of GSFPC, Ramon Francisco.  Ha! What timing!  In short, we found ourselves a guide.  To clarify though, there really is a rule however, it should have been applied only to the workers but the security (to make it simple, I guess) applied it to everyone, visitors or tourists included.

And so I’m inviting you to come join us on our unexpected guided tour:

There is relatively little of interest in General Santos (Gensan for short) in terms of tourist attraction.  More than anything else, it serves as a transportation hub especially to places like Lake Sebu.  Aside from it being a hub however, it is also known for 2 things – it is tagged as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines

and (I think) it is more known as the hometown of “pound for pound” champion boxer

Manny Pacquiao.

Being the sanctuary of the tuna canning factories, Gensan accounts for the 2nd largest total daily fish landings in the country (Navotas being the largest).  Lying at the heart of Sarangani Bay, the proximity of the city to tuna-wide fishing grounds include the Moro Gulf, Sulu Seas, Mindanao Seas, and adjacent Celebes Seas which are known centers of tuna abundance.

Yellow Fin tuna – a sashimi grade tuna and can grow to be a size of an adult man – is what the fishermen are after.  It fetches more money than any other fish.

And at the fish port, traders bargain with fishermen for the prized catch which goes as far as Japan and European markets.  The Philippines is ranked as 7th among the tuna producing countries in the world.

Sad to note though that it is declining nowadays as the warm climate continues to affect the ocean’s temperature due to the El Niño effect.

The average number of fishing boats that hits the port on a daily basis is about 25 coming from as far as borderline Indonesia and Palau Islands.

Traders inspect the tuna before it gets graded and eventually shipped out to local and international markets.

After the tour, Ramon took us to a restaurant inside the complex called Noccil.  There we had a feast of (almost) everything tuna.

We even got to buy some frozen ones to bring home.

Fried Bihod (Tuna roe)

Adobong Tendon (foreground) and tuna sashimi (background)

Balbakwa (gingery fish soup) — yummy!

Grilled Opah otherwise known as Moonfish or in Filipino “Diana” tuna — a round flat fish, silver in color and is one of the most sought after fish delicacies.  A catch comes only every 15 days or so.