LITTLE do majority of the Filipinos know, there are beautiful spots in South Cotabato, especially in the towns of Tupi, Polomolok, Sarangani, including General Santos City in Soccsksargen.

This was discovered by Shiela “Cering” Genayas, of San Fernando, Cebu, during her short-stint visit to these places recently. Her bosom friend-couple Othniel and Helen Javier, of General Santos City, invited her to attend the 20th Women in the Race of Faith, a convention for women sponsored and organized by Church of Christ (not INC) congregation Davao chapter which was held in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Following the convention, the Javier couple toured Genayas to 1st class town Tupi, South Cotabato to see the delightful and alluring Sunflower Garden which is now becoming a tourist destination in the region as local, national and foreign folks have started to view the garden along with other beautiful scenic natures in the region.

According to the Javiers, the sunflower seeds of the Blooming Agri-Tourism Park were imported from Japan and the field’s planted was the first of its kind in Soccsksargen.

“We have five varieties of sunflowers that tourists have come to admire,” said Arturo Mariano, co-owner of the family-run sunflower garden industry.

“The Blooming Petals also produces chrysanthemums, anthuriums and roses in their various farms in town and even sell cutflowers at their display center in the town’s poblacion,” he added. Their family-own business also maintains flower shop in Dangwa, Sampaloc, Manila for commercial purposes.

At the entrance of the Sunflower Garden was a water falls called Tupi Water Falls. And as nature lover, Genayas has to take picture as her memoir when she returns to Cebu.

Tupi is a first class municipality of South Cotabato and has a population of 69,976 people. Located at the foot of a dormant volcano, Mount Matutum, Tupi is considered as the fruit, vegetable and flower basket of South Cotabato.

The town’s name was coined from the vine named “Tufi” which was chewed by native Balaan tribes who first inhabited the land. The vine was abundant in the forest and had a refreshing taste.

Polomolok was the next place they visited to see the Dole Philippine Pineapple Plantation. It is about 17 kilometers or 11 miles distance from General Santos City.

Since it was just the sowing season of the year, all that Genayas and Javiers saw were new sprouted pineapple plants growing in uniformity which filled the vast tracts of land.

“It was all pineapple plants that you could see as if you were in the midst of the sea,” Genayas said. “You could in breath fresh air which was missing in the frenzied city like Cebu City.”

Polomolok’s name was derived from the B’laan term “flomlok,” which means hunting ground as it was abundance of wild life.

In addition, the place has so many creeks with free flowing water coming from the hillsides and those cool and clear flowing water have encouraged foreigners to settle in this place.

Located at the southern part of South Cotabato, Polomolok is nestled at the base of the prominent Mount Matutum. It is cone-shaped volcano and looms over the provinces at 2,286 metres (7,500 ft) high.

Now, the pineapple company has opened a new production facility worth US$20 million that can generate 1,500 additional jobs, said Randolph Fleming, Dole Philippines vice president and managing director.

He said the new plant is the firm’s largest single investment that could process 250,000 tons of processed fruit annually.

It was opened in Surallah town, South Cotabato to service at least 3,000 hectares of pineapple plantation.

Acquired by Itochu Corp of Japan in 2013, the corporation has pineapple plantations in at least 13,000 hectares in the province through lease agreements.

Next stop was in the proper General Santos City (formerly Dadiangas) and its name was derived from General Paulino Santos who came and pioneered the land in the ‘40s.

Known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, the Javier couple and Genayas came to the Fish Port Complex where the bulks of “tuna” fish are displayed for customers to see and buy the fish they have chosen and wanted to.

General Santo City was created on July 8, 1968 by virtue of Republic Act 5412 with keeping its name. It was then inaugurated on September 5, 1968 by then incumbent Mayor Antonio Acharon.

Now, General Santos City has evolved from being third class to first class city and in fact it has a moniker name as the “Boom City of the South” as it is highly urbanized place.

It is also firms up its mark in the international market as an exporter of tropical fruits, yellow fin tuna, prawn and copra.

And the last stop that Genayas and her companions went to was the Highland Garden in Sarangani.

There she saw the beauty of the place and its amenities like cottages, structures, flowers and hall. Enjoying the site, Genayas was busy taking pictures of the delightful flowers and cottages and one of them was taken behind her and Helen as background.

Then they proceeded to Sarangani Beach Resort to relax and swim at the pristine sea to cool off the heat from the sun. The water was still clean because only few people had visited the site as it was newly discovered.

Sarangani before was part of Gensan but now it is an independent province.

Its capital is Alabel with a 230-kilometer or 140 miles coastline along the Sarangani Bay and Celebes Sea. It is at the southernmost tip of Mindanao, and borders South Cotabato and Davao del Sur to the north, Davao Occidental to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the south. (Danny Q. Junco, contributor)