Gen San: Go Fishy at the Tuna Capital
When you’re talking about GenSan, the first thing that comes to mind (aside from the boxing champ Manny Pacquiao) is its tuna. It is because the city is the drop point and largest producer of sashimi-grade tuna in the Philippines. Tunas that passed the sashimi-grade standards are usually exported to Japan, while the rest were either sold locally or processed as canned goods. Since the 70s it has been called the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” and the distinction stays up to the present. The city of GenSan has also the second largest number of daily catch in the Philippines, the first being in Navotas.
When the flock had the chance to come to Dadiangas (the town’s old name), we wasted no time to visit the Fishport Complex located in Barangay Tambler. We arrived as early as dawn, at the usual peak hours of hauling off the prized catches. At the fish port’s entrance, you are welcomed by a large tuna replica. After having ourselves registered, we rented boots that are required to enter the fish port.
The fish port is clean, vibrant and modern, complying with the international standards. Complimenting its cleanliness are the white boots worn by people. While different kinds of fish and other sea creatures are being hauled off here, the real highlight is the large yellowfin tuna known locally as Bariles.
At the wharf are several fishermen carrying gigantic fish. Each catch is weighed, labeled and sorted, after which they are liberally sold to traders or buyers. Some of the catch are brought straight to one of the seven tuna canning plants. Tunas cost PhP300 per kilogram, according to a trader whom we talked, who mistook us as buyers :).
General Santos is located south of tropical Mindanao and almost at the mouth of Saranggani Bay, which is said to be an abundant fishing ground. It is also near the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea. Most fishermen coming from other towns come to this port to haul off their catch.
After a while, we saw a couple of buses filled with students wearing white boots. We realized that the fish port is one of the prime destinations for field trips. It makes no wonder because aside from being clean, the place is conducive to learning about tuna, fish port operation, and its related businesses.
If going to GenSan, don’t miss out this place on your bucket list destination. You will surely enjoy and learn much from what you will see here. And you will be remembering this whenever you are eating tuna jaw or tuna kinilaw.
Tip: If you know someone here, you can ask to buy you an unlabelled canned tuna. These are not rejected produces, but are bound for export and are labeled only after arriving at the country of destination.
From GenSan Town Proper, take a jeep going to Tambler and tell the driver to drop you off at the fish port. The fish port is 12 kms from the town proper, and trip usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Entrance – Free
Boots Rental – P20
DID YOU KNOW
The B’laan people are the original settlers of what is now General Santos City, and several names found in the modern city are from the settlements which they named in their local language. Their name for the city, Dadiangas, comes from the thorny Ziziphus spina-christi tree that was once abundant in the city and now a protected species under Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 2007. The B’laan tribe perfectly blends together with the city’s modern population. (Source: Wikipedia)