Koronadal City, formerly and still popularly known as Marbel is the capital city of South Cotabato with mixture of various culture, evident in the diverse dialect spoken by its people – Ilonggo, Hiligaynon, and yes Ilocano [again!]. Being from Ilocos, and temporarily now based in the South, I am really amazed that my Ilocano dialect is noticeably spoken in Mindanao.[See photos of Marbel/Koronadal City in my Flickr here].
From Davao, took a 3-hour non-stop YBL [Yellow Bus Line] to Gensan and another hour or so to Koronadal. This is already my second trip to the city, the first being in Feb 2012 when I went to see the famous seven-falls of Lake Sebu [Read my Blog on Lake Sebu].
When I reached Koronadal,I hailed a tricycle that took me the public market to meet a college friend who has a store and has always been a willing host. Tricycle fare is at P8/head around the city. After the store closed at about 7PM, we had dinner at a place few steps away from the market – they call it B-Walk. B-walk is a line of barbecue stalls with dining areas serving inihaw na manok, liempo, fish and all others that can be barbecued. I came to realize later that the “B” stands for “barbecue” and whoever thought of the name is smart!
B-Walk also serve soup like sinigang na hipon and clamps, various seaweeds (i.e. guso)for appetizer and beverages. Service was good, cooking was quick, taste was perfect and whether you like it or not, it’s very affordable if you don’t find it even cheap! To give you an idea, we got sinigang na hipon, nihaw na tilapia and 3-cups of rice on my first night, good for two and we paid not over 100-pesos! Second night, we got clamps soup, inihaw na liempo, inihaw na bangus, 3-cups of rice, good for three and we paid only almost 200-pesos!!! Almost the same price for 2-inihaw na paa(thigh) ng manok and 30-sticks of assorted barbecue. I don’t know if we were given discount because the owner of the stall is a relative of my friend but I don’t think so. I was told, the price is what is really is it! If only this place is open 24-hours, I don’t mind having to take my meals all day here. B-Walk is open only for diner. Highly recommended![See photos of Marbel/Koronadal City in my Flickr here]
After dinner, dropped my things at my friend’s house, rested a bit then visited his brother for some few moments of sing-along before capping the night at the newest bar in the city – Jims Resto Bar! It is a sing-along bar located in Brgy. San Gabriel, quite a distance from downtown. Appeared like an improved warehouse to me but with its high ceiling, it is airy. Smoking is not allowed inside the bar [Note: Koronadal has also prohibited smoking in public and other selected places like Davao] Sound system was good, stage and lighting is ok, service was good, price is affordable (6-bottles of San Mig Lite in a bucket is at P200 and a dinner plate of french fries at P60). With the place and my company, it made me barely notice that the chairs are white monoblock but did not matter at all. The CR needs improvements, however. I was told that Jims Resto Bar used to be another bar called Lambat and has been transformed by the owner into a completely different bar with no traces of the old one.
In Mindanao, I have yet to see an old church like those in Luzon and Visayas. Everyone knows the reason why. This is Mindanao and we have been thought that Islam was pre-dominant in this part of the country. Be that as it may, the Christ The King Cathedral in the city is a landmark and continues to be improved. It is newly built and you may just want to see how it looked like before rebuilding-click here to see!
Being an inland city, Koronadal has several water-fun resorts. Del Rio Splash Resort is one but unfortunately didn’t have the chance to test the waters because of limited time. Kids and big groups will enjoy here. There are 3-big malls and convenience stores in Koronadal which may take care of your basis needs.[See photos of Marbel/Koronadal City in my Flickr here]
Before I left Koronadal and go back to work the next day, my friends brought me to Apareja Buko Halo-Halo in Brgy. Sarabia, along the highway going into the city. Too bad it’s not in downtown and if you don’t have a private car, you may be forced to take the tricycle for more than extra fare because of distance. Even then, its distance from the city proper adds to the charm of the place (sasadyain mo talaga) aside from its main menu – the buko halo-halo. Nothing spectacular about the taste, however, well at least for me. It is your ordinary restaurant halo-halo with the usual ingredients, topped with a scoop of ice creme for P60. If at all, what makes Apareja more interesting is the free and bottomless buko juice!
Apareja is one place that will surely become part of the city’s heritage by the way locals patronize and talk about it. They also sell chicharon and other pasalubong delicacies. I was told that there used to be a line of buko halo-halo stores along the same location but only Apareja managed to stand still until now.[See photos of Marbel/Koronadal City in my Flickr here]
Lastly, the Marang fruit! When I first tasted Marang in Davao, I knew I am going to like it. I did, I do and will surely like Marang. I like Durian but in case you have some prejudice against the king of fruits in Mindanao, the Marang is the best option. It has scent not as potent as the Durian and best eaten when not ripened thoroughly. It has a thick but softer thorny skin than a jackfruit with mass of seeds covered with generous sweety and creamy white pulp. I want my Marang chilled a bit because the taste becomes more refreshing and I eat it straight from the fruit if a fork is not handy.
There are still a lot I missed in Koronadal which give me more good reasons to be back. I will be back Koronadal! You’re simply Marbel-ous!