General Santos General Tourist Information - Philippines

General Santos City, or simply GenSan, has gained prominence, not just in Region XII but in the entire country for being on the cutting edge in terms of economic stability, growth and tourism potential. Through the efforts of its citizens, the city has gained a reputation as being business and tourist friendly.

Geography

General Santos is located in South Cotabato. Beside it are the three municipalities of Sarangani and two municipalities of South Cotabato. GenSan is situated off the southeast of Cebu and Manila, and just a little southwest of Davao. The total land area is 180 sq. miles, or 490 sq. km. It has an elevation of 50 ft.(15m) and has a population of a little over half a million.

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Climate

The climate at General Santos City is generally pleasant, with a storm-free weather enjoyed the whole year through. It also enjoys a good amount of rainfall. It is not much but enough for local farmers to grow pineapples and coconuts and corn and exotic fruits, etc.

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Natural Resources

The geographical location of the city, like Davao, makes it an ideal place for planting and sowing crops. With 30% of the land ripe for agriculture, General Santos has become very competitive in the production of prime commodities. Among its numerous products are rice, corn asparagus, okra, and an assortment of export quality
fruits and vegetables.

Economic Infrastructure

A sound infrastructure is needed for any city to attract investors, and General Santos excels in this department. Basic necessities, like power and water are provided for by the Napocor (National Power Corporation) and the GSC Water District, respectively.

The transport sector has also been well established. The General Santos International Airport is the most modern in Mindanao. With a runway over 9,000 feet long, it is more than capable of handling the largest passenger airlines.

The Makar Wharf, on the other hand, is regarded as the finest in the region, if not the country. With a 2,400 ft. docking length, and about 63 ft. wide, it has become the primary shipping port, and is always busy with ships transporting goods and cargo.
Through the Pan-Philippine Highway, General Santos is no considered as a gateway city to all parts of Mindanao, and also linking it with the other cities in the country.

These elements have combined to make one of the most economically vibrant cities. All the institutions that one would expect in a first class city that one expects, like banks, universities, government offices, etc. can be found throughout the city.

Tourism

General Santos City fosters a good source of livelihood since time immemorial. It has a fertile stretch of land to start with. In the 1960s, General Santos City experienced an upsurge in economy when big companies like Dole Philippines decided to expand into the area.

Today, another good source of income for the locals is tourism. Being an interesting destination presenting diverse cultures, modern amenities, and lots of natural beauty, people flock to the city year in and year out.

General Santos City’s main attraction is tuna, which is the most important product in the area. Then, there are the festivals, celebrated at specific period each year as well as the numerous interesting spots like Kalaja Karsts Land, which is definitely a must-see.

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Language

The language mostly used by the natives and even by most non-Gensan residents, are Cebuano and Ilonggo—mostly Cebuano. The same is true in most parts of Mindanao. However, non Cebuano-speaking local and foreign tourists need not worry. Most Gensan folks understand Filipino and English very well, as these languages are the major means of communication in schools. Online, general information on General Santos are available in English and Cebuano. And business establishments in the city hire staff and crew who are able to read and write in English. Furthermore, since most Gensan folks are well traveled in the country and even around the world, most people here do not have language barrier problems anymore. After all, this locality has been declared a city in the Philippines.

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People and Population

The people of Gensan are mostly quiet and friendly, though popular for their fierce courage and dedication to work. The internationally acclaimed professional boxer, Manny Pacquiao, come from this province. Most of the population is Roman Catholic. There are also Protestants and Muslims. Residents are known for being employed largely by fishing industries, especially the tuna industry. It is said that almost all of them know how to clean and prepare tuna fish. In a 2000 general information on General Santos population, the 26 barangays in the city have 86,595 families, totaling 411,822 residents.

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History

General Santos City is located in Mindanao, at the southern part of the Philippines. It is in the province of South Cotabato and to date, has been counted as one of the most populous cities in the country with over half a million residents.

It was on February of 1939 when the first batch of settlers, spearheaded by General Paulino Santos, approached the shores of the bay of Saranggani. The pioneers mostly came from Luzon. Shortly after the settlers savored the fertile stretch of land, more settlers came in not just from Luzon but from the Visayas as well. This caused the displacement of the natives in the area, which are called B’laan. They had no choice but to live on the mountains and leave their livelihood behind. Through the Indigenous People’s Right Act, however, the B’laan also called Dadiangas previously and has been living in the area for thousands of years, were given protection to live harmoniously with the settlers.

General Santos City became a full-pledged municipality as Buayan District nine years after General Santos led a batch of settlers. Six years after that, Buayan District became General Santos. Twelve years later, the cityhood of General Santos was finally approved.

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Entertainment

General Santos has become a big draw for tourists for several reasons. Those who like to experience the best of modern life can get it with shopping malls, movie houses, restaurants and a wide range of hotels and inns.

Those who want to get a glimpse of the culture and history should look no further than its various festivals, which tell the story of the city and province through colorful parades and dances. There are also several landmarks such as the tunnels, waterfalls and camping grounds.

Money, ATMs, Money Changers

Money matters are an important issue for the government of General Santos City. To cope with the growing need, the city has a total of 59 banks within its boundaries. Of these banks, 46 are commercial banks, seven of these are rural banks, five are savings banks, and one cooperative. This basically translates to a lot of options when getting your money or making financial transactions.

Having that many banks also means that ATMs aren’t that hard to find. You can even go to malls and get your cash from ATMs located there. Changing your cash into the local currency won’t be so much of an issue since there are a lot of money changers here as well. Take note that there are pawnshops that can also change your money into Philippine pesos.

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Internet Providers

Internet connectivity is one of the major drivers of communication in General Santos City. It is one of the more favored modes of communication here other than using regular phones or cell phones. Because of this preference, a number of Internet service providers operate in this city. Service providers include Omnitronics, FB NET (the city’s premiere Internet service provider), Globe WiMax, PLDT myDSL, Bayantel DSL, Moscom, and WeblinqSMART among others.

There are also other Internet connectivity options in case you do not want to sign up for an account with these local providers. For example, there are Internet cafes where you can rent a computer and Internet for a small hourly fee. If you brought your laptop along, another option is to go to free WiFi spots that are usually located in malls, hotels, restaurants, and cafes.

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Visa for Foreign Tourists

The same rules and laws apply in General Santos City regarding visa requirements for foreign tourists. Foreign nationals coming from a selected group of countries may enter the country without a visa. The only requirements are that their stay should not last longer than 21 days and that they should have return tickets with them. Visit the Philippine government website for a list of the said countries.

In case you need to enter the country longer than the said number of days or your country isn’t listed in the government website then you need Temporary Visitor’s Visa. Nationals from Israel and Brazil can visit the country without a visa for 59 days or even less. In case you have to apply for a Temporary Visitor’s Visa, you will have to pay a visit to the Philippine consulate or embassy.

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Visa Extensions

Upon arrival, visitors to the country may be issued a 21 day visa, which is actually free. You may have to show your passport and plane tickets for your return trip. The immigration office in General Santos City will require you to present your return tickets. In case you need to have your stay extended beyond 21 days you will have to get a visa extension.

The first visa extension will last for 38 days and will require you pay fees amounting to Php 3,010. The next visa extension is for 59 days and, as you may expect, will require more fees. The next visa extension can last for about three or four months and will also require you to pay other fees as well. Take note that the longer your stay in the country the larger is the amount of fees you’ll have to pay to get an extension.

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Electricity

Electric power supply is supplied by a power retailer registered with the National Power Corporation, the country’s regulator and manager of electricity, and the National Electrification Administration. The retailer, South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (SOCOTECO II), supplies electricity to the SoCSarGen region in Mindanao. One of the cities here is the South Cotabato city, General Santos. Updated general information on General Santos electricity is accessible from SOCOTECO II, especially on the developments on power supply improvements and scheduled interruptions, if any. The summer of 2010 saw power interruptions due to the drought caused by El Nino. But now that the rainy days have started, the two-hour daily power interruptions are expected to cease and normal power supply resume.
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Newspapers

Major dailies circulated nationwide, like Manila Bulletin, Daily Inquirer, and Business World reach major provinces and cities in Mindanao, including General Santos or Gensan. General information on General Santos current and past events, plus announcements of future events, are also easily accessible anytime from online newspapers like General Santos News, Sun Star Network Online, and Superbalita Cebu. News in English, Filipino, Visayan, and other local vernaculars are also active, some in tabloid form. News from Metro Manila and the world are also available in this city.

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