I got to take another short trip this month. This time I went to a city I’d passed through before but not had time to stop and visit. General Santos City, or GenSan as it is most commonly called, is in the Soccsksargen region of central Mindanao. It is the southernmost city in the Philippines, with a population of 538,086 according to 2010 census.

On my previous pass through, I had noticed that the streets were mostly occupied by tricycles and jeepneys, not so many taxis and cars. That appealed to me, as Davao is getting more congested by the week. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like in a few years, but I’ve gotten glimpses of what I suspect, and that doesn’t appeal to me. So I’m looking to see if there might be an option down the road that would be more appealing.

My last trip I went up to CDO, mainly because I wanted to see the mountains and smaller towns in the Bukidnon area. A mountainous rural area is one I would consider, another would be a smaller city like GenSan. One of the main deterrents I heard about GenSan was their brownouts issues. I wanted to check firsthand whether or not that had improved. You see, I’d read that they were on scheduled brownouts of up to 7 hours a day. That’s not something I’d want to deal with.

YBL Bus Executive GenSan - DavaoI took the bus from the Ecoland Terminal again. This time it was YBL (Yellow Bus Line). They have four classes of service – Super Deluxe (non aircon), Mabuhay (P240, aircon, 1 stop), Premiere (P254, aircon, non-stop, some have Wifi, some don’t) and the new Executive class (around P300, aircon, Wifi, CR, non-stop, and leather seats). Unfortunately the Executive only runs twice a day, an hour apart, so I could not try it out. I was told it leaves GenSan at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. I’m not sure what times it leaves Davao.

The road to Digos, and then on to GenSan is not very good. At least it’s not very comfortable. I had taken the bus to Digos just recently, and both trips were very choppy. The shocks weren’t great on either bus, but the one to Digos was worse. I think that company was Weena, but I’m not sure. Either way don’t expect to sleep much unless you can do so while being tossed around. The trip took a little over 3 hours, but it depends upon where you start counting from. We left the terminal in Davao and waited at the main road for a good 15 minutes or more. I dropped off in Ulas on the way back and it was a bit faster avoiding the traffic through Davao.

Veranza Mall GenSanGenSan seems to be booming, much like every city I see herein the Philippines. There are 4-5 malls. The nicest is either KCC/Veranza or SM, depending on your point of view. Veranza, which is an extension to KCC, is very upscale. It reminded me of the Ayala Malls. They also had a lower end Gaisano Mall. The Robison Mall, which from my understanding used to be the big attraction, was hardly occupied. Not many people there at all the night I went, which happened to be the same night I went to KCC. KCC was quite active.

Lagao Public Market GenSanI didn’t spend a lot of time checking out any “tourist” sites. I was in walking distance of a large park, but didn’t get the name of it. There was a big market on the way into town, but that was not near where I was staying, so I didn’t make any real effort to get there, as most markets are similar. I asked around about other sites to see, but I didn’t really get much information. That’s OK because it seemed taxis are not popular in GenSan. Tricycles and jeepneys are all that can be found. I only saw one taxi the whole time I was there. Maybe I was just in the wrong areas for them.

Pacman WIld Card Gym GenSanNear SM Mall, and on the way to Gaisano, I spotted the Pacman Wild Card Gym. I stopped to shoot a photo but didn’t go inside. It looked very nice from the outside. As everyone knows Manny Pacquiao is from GenSan. I believe this is just one of his many investments there. I don’t know the story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he works out there when in town. It appeared to be very modern.

The day I got there I checked in and walked to the SM Mall. I hadn’t had coffee yet, and was happy to see they had a Starbucks, in addition to a Bo’s Coffee. I picked the Starbucks, as I have a card with load and they offer soy milk. I ran into a couple of Americans that have recently moved to GenSan. They were quite happy, so far, and wanted to show me around potential areas the next time I came into town. I asked them specifically about the brownouts and they said they were much better since the elections (?) and though the were still getting some, they were short and not daily. The one fellow does a lot of database/website stuff over the internet, so he uses a generator as a back up. That’s not a situation I want to get into, but it does sound like GenSan is on the road to solving the brownout issues. I’ll keep a watch on it.

Overall, in my short time there, I thought GenSan was a very nice city. Easy to get around and most everything you’d want is there. It’s not that far from Davao if you wanted to come up once in awhile, and the bus ride, though not smooth, is certainly affordable.

I intend to visit there again, off and on. Just to keep it on my radar. Since I have the time, I plan to make use of it for some more of these excursions.

Anki Bisaya Phrasebook Flashcards