Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A great retirement place called GenSan

I grew up with adventurous parents who loved to move from place to place and worked in sales and marketing before in which I had all the chances to travel very often so I have wandered and lived in different places in the Philippines. I have also traveled in other countries and have worked abroad but if you ask me where to spend my retirement years someday, my final choice is the city of saints and generals - General Santos City or commonly known as Gensan. Famous for being the Tuna Capital of the Philippines and the home of the world's boxing champ Manny "Pacman" Pacquaio, Gensan has been awarded the Most Competitive City and Most Livable City many times (visit The reasons why this city has been awarded as such are similar as mine that it has become my personal choice of retirement place.
One major reason I prefer Gensan is its being free from calamity. It's typhoon-free as it is shielded by Sarangani Bay. It's not in the earthquake fault line so there's no worry of quakes even of tsunami. I know how it feels when you experience tsunami coming because I was enjoying the holiday with friends on an island in Phuket, Thailand when the killer tsunami struck on December 26, 2005. I was also in Dagupan City when the July 16, 1990 earthquake shook Luzon and took away almost 2,000 lives.It sank Dagupan for about two meters which caused over a week-long flooding and almost a month without electricity. During our retirement age, we don't want to be threatened by any disasters such as storm, flood, earthquake or tsunami. Gensan is so blessed for being away from these catastrophes so it will be a great retirement place.

Accessibility is another important criterion to consider when we retire and Gensan meets this qualification. It is a fast-growing city but it's not very congested like other metropolitans. When I was working in Gensan, I did not have to get up early to go to my workplace as the traffic was always clear so I was comfortable driving there. The roads are wide and well-planned so it's easy to reroute in case a street is congested. So even if I will stay there over ten years from now, I believe it will still be the same as when I left the city six years ago, it's still pretty much the same when I was back there last year even if more buildings and infrastructures have been built. It's not that I still want to still drive on my retirement age but I want to be stress-free by getting quickly to the place I want to go. If one of our children chooses to work or stay in Luzon or in another country, we can easily fly to Manila as Gensan has an international airport that serves daily flights. Thanks to Cebu Pacific that offers airfares at very affordable prices and now PAL does the same so traveling to other parts of the country or abroad even at our retirement age has been made a lot easier and quicker. Gensan also got the most modern wharf in the country. If I and my husband are already old, we may want to travel by ship for pleasure and sight-seeing we won't enjoy on plane.
Peace and order is, of course, a very important factor to consider when choosing a retirement place because if we are old, we are no longer that strong and active to run away from any trouble. Gensan is a peaceful city except for the terrorist attacks way back then. Cultural diversity is very rich in Gensan but Gensanians respect differences. Migrants from Luzon such as the Ilocanos, Tagalogs and Kapampangans and from Visayas such as the Cebuanos and Ilonggos blend well with their different languages and ways of life. Christians of different sects(who compose the majority) get along well with the minority Muslims. In fact, we can hear the amplified worship of our Islam brothers from their mosque in Silway every Friday. Churches of different sects are adjacent to each other around the city. One may think that there's a zone for the church and Gensanians are church-goers so they are peace-loving people. Furthermore, Gensan's rich soil makes it competitive in agro-industry so it's self-sufficient and can provide its people jobs and livelihood thus very few are poor and the crime incidents are rare.
Equipped with modern facilities and leisure amenities
Of course, we also look at our retirement place's facilities such as hospitals, shopping malls and leisure amenities. Gensan has modern and well-equipped hospitals such as St. Elizabeth, GSC Doctor's, Baptist and Socksargen. In our retirement age, we have to visit the doctor a lot. When it comes to shopping malls, Gensan has a lot to offer. Gaisano, KCC Mall, RD Mall and the soon to open Robinson's all show how competition can bring better and quality service and lower prices. A retiree who is a shopaholic needs not go to Davao or Manila anymore for some products available in really big malls such as SM as it will also be established in Gensan soon. What about places to relax for retirees in Gensan? As I am not a shopaholic myself except for my family's necessities, Gensan's fine beaches attract me and my family more than its shopping malls. We used to go beach-hopping on our visit to my husband's friends in the small peaceful and productive Muslim community in Tinoto where we were always given loads of fresh and dried fish. We started from my former debater's family beach which has white sand and beautifully formed rock cave where we enjoyed its shade while dipping in its pristine water where we could clearly see the colorful corals and rare aquarium fish. Then we proceeded to Maharlika Beach where we picnicked at lunch but it was rather crowded that day so we moved to Kawas Beach, in Alabel (Gensan's neigboring town). My kids loved Kawas's very fine sand with a lot of creeping creatures especially under its mangroves at low tide. Being a family of nature lovers, we also enjoy game-fishing and Gensan has a good place to do this patience-testing activity at Inland Gamefishing Resort located in Nursery, Lagao about 5 kms from downtown. My family's great memories of Gensan together keep me yearning for it to be my retirement place.

Abundant in food supply
The most important criterion I personally consider for a retirement place is the abundance of food I can put on my table at affordable prices. At our retirement, we need to be nourished with roughage or fibrous foods; that is, from vegetables and fruits as our digestive system weakens by age. Gensan abounds with fruits such as banana, pineapple, mango, papaya, avocado, guava, durian, lanzones, mangosteen, jackfruit and many others at low costs. There are also plenty of vegetables fresh from the farms either at the big market or at "laray" at night. Our PhP500. worth of fruits and vegetables would fill our car's compartment 6 years back. Fish and seafood are very famous and cheap in Gensan. Being the "Tuna Capital" of the Philippines, it is known for export-quality sashimi, which I love so much. Retirees may enjoy the "panga" (shown in the picture below), charcoal-grilled tuna jaw dipped in soysauce and calamansi (toyomansi) or the tinolang bariles, tuna or any fish with soup, tomatoes, lemon grass and pechay or camote (sweet potato) leaves. The fresh lato and guso, two varieties of seaweeds (both in the picture with panga below) always available at Gensan's market can be readily eaten with toyomansi and fresh tomato as condiment after thoroughly washing it. Some soak guso in warm water for a while. All these kinds of fresh and nutritious food abundantly available in Gensan will make a healthy retirement.

Gensan's calamity-free location, peace and order, accessibility, availability of modern facilities and superb recreation places and abundance of food all sum up a perfect place for a happy, healthy and stress-free retirement.


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