General Santos Festivals - Philippines
General Santos City is one of the major urban centers in southern Philippines. Aside from being one of the most populous cities in the Philippines, General Santos City is also home to numerous corporations, both local and multinational, making it tone of the major centers of industry in the country. Aside from having a fertile landscape that make it a major producer of a variety of crops, General Santos City is much more well known from being a major supplier of seafood, which are touted as the freshest and the best in quality.
General Santos is one of the major industrial and agricultural centers in the region. But it is better known for its flourishing fishing industry whose fleets prowl the bountiful “tuna highway” in the Southern Philippines. Grateful for the bounties that many of its residents derive from the sea, the city celebrates the Tuna Festival every September. Unlike other Philippine fiestas and festivals, which are celebrated to honor their patron saint, the Tuna Festival is a tribute to the greatest produce that has played an important role in the economy and life of General Santos City.
The famous Tuna Festival sprang from a culinary event organized by the city to spur the tourism industry. Featuring the different dishes that can be put together from their sashimi grade tuna catch, the event was such a rousing success that it developed into a tourist attraction and a yearly festival. Like other festivals, this event features the traditional parades, street dancing, exhibits and merriment. However, the centerpiece of the Tuna Festival is culinary activities such as cooking contests and feasts that focus on the city’s famous produce, which is fresh tuna of the highest grade.
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The other major festival celebrated in General Santos City is the Kalilangan Festival. The festival derives its name from the local language’s word for commemoration as the Kalilangan Festival is a celebration commemorating the foundation of General Santos City.
The festival was institutionalized back in the early 1990s when the city government of General Santos was inspired by the success of city-wide festivals organized by cities such as Cebu and Iloilo. Following the examples of such cities, the local government and civil society groups cooperated into organizing a similar festival in General Santos that is not only meant to be a merry-making activity for its local inhabitants but also as an attraction that will draw tourists into the city which will generate income and jobs.
Like most Philippine festivals, Kalilangan is a celebration of the city’s identity and cultural heritage as it is primarily a pageantry of the city’s ethnic tradition. Being a festival celebrated to commemorate the founding of General Santos City, most of the presentations in the festival are devoted to reenacting the arrival of the city’s pioneering settlers on the shores of what is to be established as General Santos City.
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One of the major events featuring in the festival is the Kadsayagan which is an extensive street dance competition held in numerous areas in the city. Of course, the usual fireworks display that is a staple in Philippine festivals is not to be missed in General Santos as it is also present in the Kalilangan festivities.
These two major festivals in General Santos City make the Queen City of southern Philippines a destination for local and foreign tourists alike.