Who would ever say no to an invitation to be at the only tuna festival in the world, and instead of being cramped in a passenger bus enjoy a trip within the cool comfort of Ford Philippines’ latest model, the Ford Focus? No one in his right mind would, I guess. And for someone blessed (or cursed) with an itchy pair of feet, I grabbed the chance not only with both hands but feet, too.It was my first time actually to be at the Tuna Festival even though it was their 9th celebration.
We were met by General Santos Chamber of Commerce executive director Pilar T. Afuang and Manila-based media coordinator Shane “Ayo” Gunting for a huge dinner in one of the restaurants in the city before retiring for the night. We were billeted at the ABCD Stars, a luxurious resort on the outskirts of GenSan, far away from the noise of the partying people and the concerns. It was like renting the whole place to ourselves, a rare place in the city where birds chirped outside my window and crickets lulled me to sleep but despite the semi-provincial setting, I locked the windows out of habit.I had a room to myself, a cozy single with floor to ceiling lockers, cool wood panels, and a huge mirror on the dresser which I had a hard time covering when I went to sleep at my usual 3 a.m. bedtime.
It was hard to part with the bed when my cellphone alarm shrilled at 5 a.m. and with eyes still closed, I stumbled to the bathroom.After a complimentary breakfast from ABCD Stars owner, we proceeded to the center of attraction where the tuna float parade was about to start. This year’s contest brought in 15 colorful floats, each float a showcase of art and craftsmanship displaying the vibrant tuna industry that has propelled the lives and livelihood of the people. However way they were decorated, the floats conveyed the common theme “One pulse, one force, one cruise”, a message of unity among the people despite the diverse cultures.Adventures of an amateur at the lensI was having a field day being with the two professional photographers Rhonson and Jojie and watching them as they took photo after photo with their “high-powered Canon cameras”.
The protruding lenses seemed like an automatic pass because crowds always gave way for us (comment from a by-stander- hala taga National Geographic siguro sila). I tagged along with my toy camera, a 7.2 megapixel point-and-shoot Sony which had served me in the past with my photography needs. I love this camera even though this got me ‘arrested’ by Task Force members at the Ecoland bus terminal but that’s another story.Back in Davao I had a grand time laughing when I downloaded all the contents of the two 256 MB memory cards into my laptop. Only then did I discover General Santos has so many electric wires. In some of my pictures, the floral floats were carrying huge billbords advertising fertilizers, feeds, and fastfood outlets. One tuna float was even carrying a huge haplas billboard sticking out in my photo.
When I joined famous photographer George Tapan’s f-45 photography workshop last month, I heard something which concerns electric wires but I was too busy texting and you caught me, I was not paying too much attention, and I had to learn the hard way.Ah one more thing, I made the second mistake by riding when the heat and my feet were killing me and took photos from the comfort of the Ford Focus window, and had the guts to wonder later on why my photos seemed blurred and milky.
Our hosts pampered us with food but alas, sad to say I went to the tuna festival but we hadn’t tasted even a tiny weeny slice of tuna at all… I went home carrying only a mouth-watering vision of tuna in all its glory—sashimi, inihaw na panga , palikpik (the meat near the tuna fin) or tiyan (belly) dripping in its juices over live coals, kinilaw, sushi, bagaybay, tuna longganisa or sitsaron…a reason to be back for the future celebrations of the tuna festival.