Visiting Mariano's Blooming Agri-Tourism Park in South Cotabato

Tupi is a municipality in South Cotabato province located in between General Santos City and Koronadal City with less than 70 thousand inhabitants, basically, engaged in Agriculture and farming. This place once considered the fruit and vegetable basket of South Cotabato province. and known for its super sweet pineapple, flower garden, and a perfect place to take the great view of the stratovolcano called  Mount Matutum.




This trip was a fulfilling promise for my family which obsessed with visiting the sunflower garden with a sort of curiosity about why this place gains popularity in both social media and local tourists. After Car checkup and ready for a long drive, I invited them to have a short vacation on the weekend before returning to a long month of work.

The Bibingka of Sulop
Tupi is about 181 kilometers or more than a 3-hour drive from Davao City. We decided to leave Davao City in the afternoon so that the kids have extra rest. Along the way, we stop by in Sulop to try their best Bibingka (a kind of rice cake) sells by small stores beside the highway; Then, partnered it with hot Choco or coffee.

Overnight Stay in General Santos City
Already night when we reached General Santos City so we decide to stay here overnight. After the check-in we decide to have our dinner at the Tiongson Arcade but it seems we’re with the kids, they requested fast food as usual. For those who love seafood, Tiongson arcade is the best for you; several restaurants can be found in this location serves with fresh seafood as I tried several times.


Fresh Seafood is arranged on a side table, you can point out which types of raw food you want to order then the crew will ask your preferred kind of cooking (grilled, soup, sizzling or steamed). Try their Grilled Tuna Panga (Jaw part), sizzling tuna bagaybay or bihud (Tuna Milt and Roe), Tinolang Halaan (clam mixed with vegetables in soup) and Sinuglaw (grilled meat with raw slice tuna meat cook in vinegar and seasonings). You can also order a meat barbeque and desert as well. 

Affordable Hotel/ Homestay in General Santos City
Balbacua for Breakfast
In the morning, head on the RGH eatery in Lagao then try their delicious and hot Balbacua. Two well-known places in General Santos City selling this kind of menu, The Aweng Balbacua in Makar as the people's champ Manny Pacquiao favorite, but for me, RGH served the best with an affordable price. Lots of travelers went here daily, so, be an early customer since this eatery will be running out of stock before 10:00 in the morning.

Mt. Matutum View and the Pineapple Plantation
A late morning when we head on to Tupi from Gensan with a light driving since this route prohibits more than 80-km/hr speed. After passing the municipality of Polomolok, on the right, will notice the cone-shape like a stratovolcano of  Mt. Matutum. This mountain stand 2,286 meters high with a well-preserved crater at the summit ranging 320-meter wide.


So, we take a place to stop by and feel the view of this volcano; and of course, get some shot even this mountain is shy this time. According to locals, there are two hot spring can be found on the southwest side of Mt. Matutum, the Acmonan, and Linan, sadly, no extra time to visit one of those.   

Tupi's soil type and climate condition make all types of crops and livestock suitable to grow.  The slope of Mt. Matutum is surrounded by a variety of pineapple plantations, tropical fruit, and vegetable farm whereas the local depends on agriculture. It is inevitable to stop at this place to enjoy the moment and take some memorable shots. In fact, very rare for any vacant land in this town without a plant.



Mariano's Blooming Agri-Tourism Park
With the power of social media, this sunflower garden flooded with positive comments and became a famous tourist attraction in Tupi and even the kids are so obsessed to see the growing sunflower and it's really a treat. The entrance fee depends on the day you visit, weekdays, weekends/holidays.

­čî╗Weekends/Holidays entrance fee
  • Adults                       - 50
  • Kids/Senior Citizen  - 30  
­čî╗Weekends/Holidays:
  • Adults                       - 70
  • Kids/Senior Citizen  - 50
The Mount Matutum - shot from the Mariano's Children Parkside

At the entrance, the round of passion fruit will greet you welcome upon entering the farm. This farm has a manmade mini waterfall located beside the entrance near the restaurant.  Not too far, you will find a large cage where you can experience birds feeding at 50 pesos. There is also a mini-park where children can enjoy free access to the facilities installed in the area. 
  

This 13-hectares plantation also grows different kinds of vegetables such as lettuce, bell peppers, french beans, varieties of cucumber, radish and a wide display of popular plant called chrysanthemums. The Park is open 7days a week from 7:00 up to 6:00 in the evening. 

­čî╗Weekdays Operation:
  • PARK - 7AM - 5:30PM 
  • CAF├ë - 10AM - 5:30PM
­čî╗Weekends Operation:
  • PARK - 7AM - 6PM
  • CAF├ł - 9AM - 6PM 






Buying locally produced fruits and vegetables. 
Of course, this trip cannot be completed if you did not pass by at the fruit market. one of the famous locally harvest the to be proud of is the sweet pineapple. locals also developed products from the pineapple such as vinegar, jam, and candies. Young corn is also the best which can be ordered as steamed or grilled; sprinkled with salt or coated with cheese. The fruit and vegetable market is located on the national road in between Tupi downtown and Polomok.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you are from outside Mindanao, the nearest airport to get here is the General Santos International (GES) in General Santos City. From here, take a taxi ride going to Bulaong Bus Terminal then catch a Bus trip bound for Koronadal City. Get Off to the Tupi bus terminal. 

From Cagayan De Oro City
There is a daily schedule of Bus Trip (Rural Transit) in Agora Integrated Terminal (Cagayan De Oro) going to General Santos City. However, this bus will not stop in Tupi but you can get off in Koronadal City Bus Terminal (also known as Marbel). From there, take another Bus Ride or Jeepney bound for Polomok or General Santos City then, get off at Tupi Integrated Terminal.  

From Davao City
Take a ride to the Ecoland Bus Terminal in Davao City then look for a Bus bound for Koronadal City. If you wish to have a faster ride, the Yellow Bus line offers a non-stop Trip going to Koronal City but it will not stop in Tupi. If you're taking this trip schedule, better to get off in Bulaong Bus Terminal in General Santos City. At Bulaong Bus Terminal, take another Bus ride going to Koronadal City then Get off to Tupi Integrated Terminal.

At Tupi Bus Terminal   
From here, hire a tricycle or scooter going to Mariano's Blooming Agri-Tourism Park. For Backpackers, since Tupi is an Agricultural area, riding with a scooter is the best way of exploring the local attractions. 

For those traveling with private vehicles, when you reached Tupi, look for the SeaOil gasoline Station, then, turn right at Balayon Street from General Santos City or turn left from Koronadal City from the highway following the signage heading to Mariano's Blooming Agri-Tourism Park.  


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