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The SOCCSKSARGEN Experience 2012
A week ago, yours truly, along with 20 other bloggers from all over the country converged in General Santos City for the fourth installment of the SOCCSKSARGEN Experience Tour. Prior to this, Libotero has already been to the beautiful region twice: first in 2010 with blogger friend, Enrico Dee, and once again last year, on a solo trip!
You might ask, why am I visiting once more? Simple. I feel at home in SOCCSKSARGEN. And there are still tons of destinations I have not yet explored in this region that doesn’t seem to run out of attractions. I believe one way for me to be able to explore these places in a much shorter period is by joining a packaged tour. But no, this isn’t just an ordinary packaged tour, this is THE SOCCSKSARGEN Experience Tour 4.0
What is the SOCCSKSARGEN Experience Tour?
Spearheaded by the Fat and Fab Brothers, Orman Manansala of Project O! Consultants and Avel Manansala of Gensan News Online Mag, ably assisted by the SOCCSKSARGEN Bloggers, the first S-Ex Tour was organized in September 2010 to coincide with Gensan’s Tuna Festival. My previous two visits wouldn’t have been a breeze without their assistance so I am confident that my S-Ex Tour experience is gonna be a blast!
Beyond the ordinary familiarization tour, the S-Ex Tour is a bloggers-only tour. The participating bloggers take on a crucial yet very fulfilling role of attempting to paint a new image for SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 11 – South Central Mindanao), a region with unlimited potential marred only by irresponsible typecasting of Mindanao as a very disorderly place, through their blog posts. Truth is, only a tiny and isolated portion of Mindanao is a warzone, and if you’re not bent on exploring the Land of Promise the soonest, you are missing out, A LOT!
The previous installments took the participants to various eco-cultural and culinary destinations in the region. The fourth installment promises to be bigger, bolder and better! For 5 days, the longest for a S-Ex Tour yet, we will be having a jam-packed itinerary, exploring 3 Cities, 3 Provinces, and the attractions within them… That is S-Ex Tour 2012.
Libotero joins the S-Ex Tour 2012
Last January, Kuya Avel flew to Cebu for a
Sinulog-turned-post-Sinulog post-birthday trip. During his visit, he met with the Cebu Bloggers and told us all about the SOCCSKSARGEN Experience Tour 2012. We were fortunate enough to be the first ones to be invited to what would be the biggest S-Ex tour yet! As we learned that we only had to shell out P2,000 registration fee per person, excluding other incidentals, we were stoked! Itching to book our airline tickets, we still had to wait for a promo.
A week after, Airphil Express offered a promo fare to coincide with Chinese New Year! Finally, we were able to book our tickets to General Santos (August 31-September 5), eight months in advance, for only P700 round-trip ALL-IN!
Fast-Forward to August 31, 2012.. This is it!
Gosh, this is really is it, is, it, is it!! I was too excited I wasn’t able to sleep the night before my flight! As my alarm rung at 5:00am, I immediately got up, took a shower, ate breakfast, double checked my bags. From home, I went with mom’s “school service” and they dropped me at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Due to lack of sleep, I really felt lethargic and almost close to collapsing. LOL. Good thing, I availed of the web check-in service so I was able to get ahead of the regular queue.
After all the security procedures, I could finally settle at the pre-departure area. Feeling really weak, I hydrated myself with three bottles of water and ate two pieces of Bunwich. I then just sat at one corner, wore my sunglasses, bowed down and tried to get a nap. A few minutes later, my flight buddies arrived. Mark, Ethy and Norman were all very hyped up and I couldn’t help but get infected by their energy. Our flight was delayed for almost an hour but we almost didn’t notice as we were a group of blabbermouths!
As we boarded the plane, we were surprised that only 77 (of the around 180) seats were filled. Oh well, it’s lean season anyway.
Before we took off, this Cebu Pacific Airbus had to land and taxi to the terminal building.
Forty minutes after take off, we found ourselves on the General Santos airspace. The massive structure you see on the left side of the photo is the newly-opened SM City General Santos.
After seeing the downtown area of General Santos, we thought we were ready to land but surprisingly, we took a sharp turn and hovered in the air for more than fifteen minutes! The thick clouds in the above-photo could be the reason why.
The mighty Mt. Matutum, a dormant volcano.
The vast pineapple fields of Dolefil around Mt. Matutum in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Touchdown: 10:27am, forty-seven minutes behind schedule.
As we stepped out of the plane, we instantly felt the cooler breeze in Gensan! I love it! Kuya Avel was already waiting for us at the arrival area and received us with arms wide open. Magandang Gensan! As soon as we recovered our check-in luggage, we headed to our shuttle, provided by Family Country Hotel and Convention Centre, our home for the next five days. Cheers!
Norman, myself, Ethy and Mark posing in one of the streets of General Santos City.
(…to be continued)