For the first part of this series on the Soccsksargen Summer Safari (click here), we featured the over-forty blog posts/articles written about the biggest escapade of bloggers from Southern, Central and Northern Mindanao.  Today, it’s all about the Safari establishment and individual partners who were mainly responsible for its success.

This is therefore our GRATITUDE POST and following are the people and establishments we would like to thank for the success of the First Soccsksargen Summer Safari. Daghang salamat for the bloggers who supplied the photo collages below:  Miah Laborte, Kuya Migs Hipolito, Dr. Charles Ortiz, ChiQ Montes, Lyle Santos. (Please message me if I forgot your name. Links to follow soon.)

Ice Castle Experience

Thanks to Ice Castle Experience, GenSan’s first themed-hotel owned by marketing guru Rey Billena who is the distributor of Nestle ice cream and drinks in Region 12.   It was the OFFICIAL RESIDENCE of the bloggers from Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Kidapawan for two days and the guests swear by the comfort and homey feel of their rooms.

The hotel facade which is nearing completion is being made to look like a medieval castle and is built on top of the owner’s huge freezer storage compartments for his Nestle products.  Basically, Ice Castle Experience is the hotel that ice-cream built.

Last we heard, the SMI Group is commissioning all the rooms of the hotel for its staff after seeing how fully-equipped and well-furnished the rooms are.  If that is the case, then only their soon-to-be-resurrected Genee’s restaurant and coffee shop will be open to the public.

"ICE CASTLE BOASTS OF 16 WIFI-EQUIPPED AND FULLY FURNISHED TWIN-BED ROOMS. IT WILL HAVE A RESTO-BAR, COFFEE SHOP AND A SALON SPA."

Ice Castle Experience is located inside the Glex Business Center, Ambassador Provido Village, City Heights, General Santos City.  For inquiries, please call them at (083) 554-4423 or check out their website at http://www.gensanice.com as soon as its available for viewing.

Pacman Sports Bar

We have to thank Ms Jinkee Pacquiao, the lovely wife of boxing champ and now Congressman Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani Province for agreeing to sponsor the pre-dinner welcome drinks and refreshments of the newly-arrived bloggers during the early evening of Day 1 of the Safari.

For an hour or so, the group played billiards, tried darts and just lazed inside the Pacman Sport Bar while trying out an assortment of pica-pica and pulutan which the attentive staff served them.  To die for is their beef sisig, according to Bloggers Jun Macarambon and Lyle Santos.


"PACMAN SPORTS BAR IS EQUIPPED WITH IMPORTED BRUNSWICK BILLIARD TABLES AND DART BOARDS. IT HAS A WELL-FURNISHED BAR OFFERING LIGHT MEALS FOR PLAYERS. WALLS ARE ADORNED WITH INTERESTING PACQUIAO MEMORABILIA" (COLLAGE BY MIAH LABORTE)

Pacquiao Sports Bar is located at the ground floor of JMIX 2 Building, at corner of Aparente Avenue and Provido Village.  It is Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao’s favorite hang-out and if one is lucky, just like the CDO and Davao bloggers, you can catch the new Congressman playing billiards there up until the wee hours of the morning.

Arnevel’s Restaurant and Catering Services

GenSan News Online Mag is also grateful to Tita Nits Velasquez, owner of Arnevel’s Restaurant and Catering Services.  Arnevel’s provided the Safari participants a huge feast during the welcome dinner at the poolside of their sprawling Le Jardin Arnevel’s along Mabuhay Road.

Here, the bloggers feasted on a whole lechon with skin so crispy and the meat tender you’d think it was DE LECHE; grilled tuna jaw with matching seaweed salad and an assortment of veggies for the veggie salad mix.  Then there was the crabs cooked in their own yellow delicious crab fat which had them eating with their bare hands; the freshly mixed kinilaw na tanguinge with mango strips; boiled tasty tahong; and the delectable juicy chicken barbecue.  Tita Nits also served them steamed lapu-lapu!

"LE JARDIN ARNEVEL'S PREPARED MOSTLY PINOY BESTSELLERS DURING THE WELCOME DINNER AT THEIR POOLSIDE FOR THE BLOGGERS. PHOTO SHOWS OWNER TITA NITZ AND SON ARNOLD VELASQUEZ. AN ASSORTMENT OF SEAFOODS, CHICKEN, PORK, BEEF PLUS A WHOLE LECHON AND PINOY VEGGIE SALADS WERE SPREAD OUT FOR ALL TO PARTAKE."

Piyesta KTV & Resto Bar

The group, now filled up to their necks with glorious food, headed to Robinsons Place Al Fresco strip where the Grand Eyeball is gonna happen.  There, they met the GenSan bloggers for the first time and immediately bonded with each other.  Free drinks courtesy of bar owner, Kikay Blogger Donna Mae Congson overflowed while chopped lechon donated by Congressman Jun Acharon, of the first district of South Cotabato was passed around.  Thank you Ms. Donna and to the former GenSan mayor.

Everyone had a fill of Piyesta’s exclusive fare like kurat sticks, Pinakurat dish, Gello syringes, the drinks in test tubes, the sisig, etc.   Those who did not drink opted to update their Plurk and Facebook accounts using the bar’s free Wi-Fi.

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"THE BLOGGERS EYEBALL GATHERED THE ONLINE WRITERS FROM SOCCSKSARGEN, DAVAO, CDO AT ROBINSONS TOP RESTO BAR OWNED BY KIKAY BLOGGER DONNA MAE CONGSON. ASIDE FROM CONGRESSMAN JUN ACHARON'S CRISPY LECHON, THEY TRIED THE EXCITING DRINK CONCOCTIONS WHICH WERE EXCLUSIVE TO THE BAR."

Dolores Farm Garden Resort

Day 2 of the Soccsksargen Summer Safari started with a breakfast at Dolores Farm Garden Resort, 15 kilometers away from GenSan, at Polomolok, South Cotabato.  Not only were the mixed group bloggers served with delicious Filipino meals but were also given a tour of the green farm resort, which is the municipality’s top tourism draw.

"BREAKFAST FOR BLOGGERS CONSISTED OF NATIVE FARE LIKE FRIED BANGUS, CORNED BEEF, CRISPY TILAPIA, EGGS AND AN ASSORTMENT OF TROPICAL FRUITS. THEY TOURED THE PANGASIUS POND, AND THE MINI ZOO WHICH FEATURES A NAUGHTY MONKEY."

Dolores Farm Garden Resort is under the RD Hotels and Resorts Group.  They have overnight hotel rooms, a large hall which could be  divided into smalle and two large swimming pools.  The bloggers had breakfast at their Wi-Fi equipped Kiosk overlooking the pool.  Thanks in particular to RD Hotels and Resorts VP Tata Mondido for hosting the group.

Next summer, Dolores Farm will be the site of the “Bikini Hunk and Babe 2011″.

Punta Isla Lake Resort

We are also indebted to Lake Sebu’s most patronized destination, the Punta Isla Lake Resort.  After visiting the Seven Falls and the Zipline Jump-Off area on Day 2, Punta Isla Lake Resort was obviously the next stop.   The bloggers were all famished after the trek they did going to and from the Seven Falls and was expecting a treat.

"THE SEVEN FALLS OF LAKE SEBU AND THE ZIPLINE DESIGNED TO FLY YOU ABOVE THEM ARE RUN BY THE LAKE SEBU MUNICIPALITY LGU. EACH RIDE COSTS P250."

They were not disappointed after waiting quite long.  Punta Isla Resort served the hungry bloggers with all sorts of tilapia dishes other than entertaining them with a dance performance from their resident T’boli dancers.  It was delicious Tilapia all the way.  The visitors also had a field day filming the majestic view of the Lake from the resort.

"PUNTA ISLA LAKE RESORT SITS ON A HILL EXTENDING DOWN THE LAKESHORE AND THUS OFFERS A BREATH-TAKING VIEW OF THE LAKE. IT HAS OVERNITE COTTAGES FOR INDIVIDUALS, SMALL & BIG GROUPS AND HAS FUNCTION ROOMS TO BOOT. IT ALSO HAS A FLOATING RESTO AND OFFERS ONE-HOUR BOAT RIDES AROUND THE LAKE."

Merl’s Garden Resort

The bloggers last stop at Lake Sebu was the refreshing Merl’s Garden Resort, located a few kilometers from the lake.  It boasts of two swimming pools and their own Zipline!!

"MERL'S GARDEN RESORT HAS ADULT AND KIDDIE SPRING WATER POOLS AND A RESTAURANT WHICH SERVES THE FINEST PANCIT CANTON."

It’s zipline though shorter and less high than that at the 7 Falls was still a thrill ride for the GenSan bloggers who braved it.  The zipline passes above the resort’s pools so if in case the line breaks, you’ll land safely into the waters below. (Joke!)

"MS. GENSAN ROMARIE CUNANAN HAVING FUN RIDING THE MERL'S GARDEN RESORT ZIPLINE. ON HER WAY BACK, SHE HAD TO CLIMB A VERTICAL LADDER GOING FARTHER UP A TREE TO REACH THE SECOND ZIPLINE STATION.""


Merl’s Garden Resort also offers overnite cottages and function rooms.  For inquiries, text or call them at +63-919-4577221 or +63-922-5713078.

Sa Balai Bistro

Koronadal City was represented in the Soccsargen Summer Safari by its hip and trendy Sa Balai Bistro.  Thanks to owner and master chef Carlo Ebeo who also assisted Bariles in getting Punta Isla Lake Resort to sponsor the tourists along with Zion Travel and Tours’ Francis Sablon.

Dining at Sa Balai Bistro was an experience in itself.  The place is packed with all sorts of antiques and mementos collected from the owner’s travel abroad and around the country.  Being a nature lover, Carlo served the group cool and refreshing Mulberry Iced Tea,  sweet and healthy pandan salad, and reinvigorating native tsokolate.  Too bad, it was not his Pasta and Pizza Day because for sure, they will leave the place even more convinced that it is Koronadal’s MUST-VISIT place in anyone’s itinerary.

"SA BALAI BISTRO IS KORONADAL CITY'S MOST FAMOUS CULTURAL ICON. IT SERVES THE MOST DELICIOUS PASTA, PIZZA, LENGUA AND BEEF CASSEROLE IN TOWN."

The Red Tent Steak House

GenSan News Online Mag also in indebted to The Red Tent Steak House which was the last stop for Day 2 of the Soccsksargen Summer Safari.  Located at the Shell Petroleum Station at the corner of Mabuhay Road (P. Dacera Avenue) and Yumang Street, the place is just what its name says – inside a Red Tent.

The simplicity of the establishment stops there however, because what followed is the superb variety of food that it offered  and the quality of service that the owners showered on the famished and tired bloggers.  Owners Dexter and Dina Dumaran, a young and good-looking couple made sure, just like with all the rest of the Safari’s sponsors made sure that it was one dinner which will forever be etched in their minds.  The juiciest, fattest steaks, the tastiest’s tenderest pork roast and the yummiest crabs on earth were finished off in no time at all!

The Red Tent, we take off our hats to you for giving the Soccsksargen Summer Safari a glorious finish.  Thank you blogger Gilbert Tan, who facilitated their participation.

More thanksgiving to follow…. Check back later.. for the contact #s of the different Safari partners too.

Thanks also to the following:

  • Kakanin, Atbp. – for the pabaon they distributed to the visitors.
  • Rolee’s Bakeshop – for the cupcakes which helped ease their hunger at Lake Sebu.
  • Robinsons Place GenSan – for allowing the bloggers to take photographs inside their mall.
  • Pablo’s Davao – for the lunch they served during the CDO Bloggers’ short stop in Davao on their way to GenSan.
  • MP Princess Printing Shop – for the free printing of the safari tarpauline streamer.
  • GenSan City Mayor’s Office – for facilitating the use of an extra vehicle for the bloggers.
  • Davao Bloggers – for always being there to support their counterparts from Soccsksargen.
  • Cagayan de Oro – for making it here and showing us their warm brand of friendship.
  • Orman Manansala – for providing the oars to the sailboat which launched the Safari.
  • Lord God Almighty – for the safe, peaceful and fruitful conduct of the tour and for giving Bariles the strength to join the escapades although having just been released from the hospital.

Until next time, bloggers!!!  See you soon in Sarangani for the Sarangani Discovery Tour: SARANGANI, YOUR ADVENTURE.

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