Tuna Festival, General Santos City
Tuna Festival is one of the more interesting fiestas in the Philippines especially in General Santos City. This celebration was inspired by the fact that this particular city is referred to as the country’s Tuna Capital. General Santos City has a population of 535,747 as of 2007, making it as one of the populous cities in the Philippines. The city is a three time awardee for the “Most Competitive City” in the Philippines for the years 1999-2000 (all cities category) 2000-2001 (mid-sized category) and 2007 (mid-sized category). Tuna Float is an awesome event to taste also sumptuous tuna treats during the Tuna Culinary Contest.
Fishing is the fastest growing industry in the city. It is in fact largely responsible for the economic boost enjoyed by the city today. Coming close to Navotas’ daily fish landing volume, the city’s fish port ranks first in terms of high value fish. The city proudly ships sashimi-grade tuna to Japan, Canada, United States, Hong Kong and leading hotels in Metro Manila.
General Santos City is also home to seven of the biggest tuna processing firms in the Philippines with a combined canning capacity of 570 metric tons a day. The city has now over 50 commercial fishing companies landing a collective volume of 8,000 metric tons of sashimi grade tuna per month. All these statistics and more add to the fore of the concept, that of building a trademark for General Santos City.
A parade normally opens the festivity to begin this fiesta. The students in General Santos, from elementary to high school levels, energetically perform dancing to upbeat music. The floats displayed during the parade are giant replicas of tuna together with its fellow creatures from the sea. After enjoying the visual delights, you should then try to satisfy your taste buds with the various tuna delicacies prepared by the people there.
Maybe, unlike more prominent Philippine festivals which started out as an output of a planned concept, Tuna Festival sprung from a spontaneous idea. In 1998, during the 30th City Charter Anniversary, the General Santos City Tourism Association (GSCTA) – a consortium of hotels, resorts, restaurants, travel agencies, and other tourism-related establishments, this was chaired by Mrs. Liwanag Ferrer. It was staged a one of a kind affair at the then Halieus Mall (now RD Plaza), that showcased gastronomical tuna cuisine through culinary competitions, exhibits, and such other visual and taste delights anchoring on the bounty of the sea with emphasis on tuna as the central thematic relishment.