Tuna Festival is a yearly cultural and food festival held in General Santos City in the province of South Cotabato, Philippines every September 5. A week-long festivity, it is a celebration of the city being a major producer of tuna and derived products in the country.
It is likewise an inaugural anniversary celebration of its founding. General Santos City is considered the tuna capital of the Philippines as well as the home of champions.
History of Tuna Festival
Tuna Festival in General Santos City began on September 5, 1999. Its date coincided with the inaugural founding of the city which occurred on September 5, 1968 with Antonio C. Acharon as its first mayor.
Its charter was approved earlier, on July 8 of the same year, by virtue of Republic Act No. 5412 which is otherwise known as “An Act Creating the City of General Santos.” It was named for General Paulino Santos who was instructed to create a settlement in the area by bringing in Christian Filipinos from Luzon.
The festival was initiated as a celebration of its tuna industry, one of primary drivers of its local economy. General Santos City Fishing Port Complex is the one of the biggest in the country, second only to Navotas. It is famous for sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna, which means that the quality is deemed export-worthy. Such species find breeding grounds in the Celebes Sea just off bay of Sarangani.
In 2020 and 2021, activities of the Tuna Festival moved online in the midst of the coronavirus threat.
Tuna Festival Schedule of Activities
Tuna Festival has a line-up of activities that will appeal to locals and visitors. Competitions are held for various categories such as photography, sports, and cooking. There are fireworks display, parties, trade fairs, exhibits, variety shows, concerts, workshops, etc.
Here are some of the highlights
Fish Fest at the Gensan Fish Port
Fish Fest at the Gensan Fish Port is a series of competitions involving workers at the Gensan Fish Port. They can join various events including races, swimming, and eating contests. A contest on fish-cleaning is also held, as well as a contest on the biggest catch.
Gabi ng Mandaragat
Gabi ng Mandaragat roughly translates to night of the fisher folks. It is an evening of tribute to people whose livelihood depends on the harvest of the sea.
Mr. & Ms. Tourism
Mr. & Ms. Tourism is a beauty pageant for males and females. The competition seeks the best male and female candidates who embody the values of the festival and who can represent the tourism activities of General Santos City.
Sugbahan sa Dalan
Sugbahan sa Dalan translates to grilling in the streets. It is an event where hundreds of kilos of tuna are cooked on open grill, and visitors can partake in the food. It is one of the gastronomic highlights of the festival.
Tugtog at Galaw ng Lawihan
Tugtog at Galaw ng Lawihan roughly translates to music and dance of tuna. It is a closing parade that features the street dancing competition. Just like the float parade, it with color and visually striking display of dancers in festive costumes whose movements are in step with the beat of the drums.
Tunafest Bancarera is a race of one-man, sail-less, motorized boats kitted out with a pair of outriggers.
Tuna Fest Float Parade
Tuna Fest Float Parade is a street spectacle where floats with ocean-themed ornamentation come down the street. It is bursting with creativity, color, and awareness for awareness and conservation of marine ecosystems.
Tuna Replica is a cooking tilt. Its participants try to outdo each other on the tastiest dish based on a given recipe. Winners are selected on their submitted cuisine and receive prizes.
Where to go
Activities of Tuna Festival occur in Plaza Heneral Santos, General Santos City Lagao Gym, Oval Grounds, Queen Tuna Park, Gensan Fishport, beach resorts, and indoor venues.
How to reach General Santos City
General Santos City is accessible through General Santos International Airport. Many land-based trips are scheduled through buses, vans, and jeepneys. Ferries also ply the routes connecting from various locations in Mindanao to Port of General Santos.
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