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Davao – GenSan Travel

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Earlier this week, I wrote about What You should know about Martial Law, and I mentioned about my trip last weekend to General Santos City.

General Santos is between 2 1/2 to 4 hours travel from Davao. That is a big spread, but the difference depends on the level of traffic, the driving of the bus driver, and whether you choose a non-stop bus or one that makes multiple stops. If I am driving, I have done the trip in as little as two hours, but usually it is a 2 1/2 hour trip if you are driving your own car.

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This was just a quick trip that we took. We left Sunday morning to go to GenSan, and we returned to Davao the same day, in the afternoon. It was a long day, but the trip was necessary for a few reasons. We did enjoy it, though. This was my first time to travel since Martial Law was declared in Mindanao last month. I wanted to share my experience of travel under Martial Law here in Southern Mindanao.

I do want to point out that what I say here really does not apply to Northern Mindanao, though. Really, our trip over the weekend took the same amount of time as normal. I have been told by a friend who lives in Ginoog City (Northern Mindanao) that going to Cagayan de Oro used to be a 2 hour trip, and now it takes 10 hours of travel! Lots of checkpoints and such slowing things down.

This trip consisted of myself, my oldest son, Chris, and my oldest daughter, Jean.

We left from Ecoland Bus Terminal

We like to travel early and get to our destination early in the day, so we go to Ecoland Terminal (not far from our house) at 6 AM. When we got to the terminal, security was tighter than normal. Security at the bus terminal is always tight here in Davao, but it was stepped up to a different level on this trip. They really searched our bags very thoroughly on this trip (we were traveling light, though, only one backpack for each passenger). One thing that was unusual is that they required us to show our government ID before entering the terminal. This has been implemented since Martial Law.

After choosing our bus and getting underway, the trip was normal for the majority of the route.

Arrival in General Santos City

Mindanao Star Bus

We traveled on the Mindanao Star Bus

As we approached General Santos City, in Barangay Katangawan (maybe 5 miles outside the City Proper), there was a checkpoint. ย This really reminded me of how Davao has had “entry point” checkpoints coming into the city for many years, but it was new in General Santos, and I am sure it was implemented as part of Martial Law.

When we reached this checkpoint, all passengers were required to disembark from the bus, and bring their bags and other possessions with them for inspection. When they checked bags they also required ID from each passenger.

It was kind of funny, I was in line for my inspection, and I could see the Military man looking up at me, and seeming very nervous! LOL I could tell that he was nervous about having to speak English to me, unsure of what to say, and embarrassed that his English was probably “not good enough” to talk to a foreigner. He was very happy, though, when I got to the front of the line and I addressed him in Bisaya. At that point other soldiers heard us conversing in Bisaya and they all came over to talk to me, laughed and generally had a good time talking to me. I enjoyed it too.

After less than 10 minutes we were back on our way for the remainder of our trip.

Really, that was the only checkpoint we encountered on our on the trip. I think it is wise to have such checkpoints at the entry points of the city, it helps with security, and lets them track who is entering the city. We have had that in Davao for a dozen years or more. These “entry point” check points require stopping and inspection only when entering the city, not when leaving.

The trip home

The trip home to Davao was more or less the same, except a few things:

  1. A couple of extra checkpoints, but they did not require passengers to disembark. These kind of checkpoints pop up from time to time, so I did not find them to be unusual.
  2. Traffic was heavier and the trip took longer. We went to GenSan very early in the morning, and came home around mid-day, so this is to be expected.

The bottom line

For me, the bottom line lesson for traveling during Martial Law is that you need to carry your ID with you wherever you go. They do ask for it, and expect you to be able to prove who you are. They will expect Government ID for this.

A second lesson, which I already knew, is that you should respect authorities, and don’t get angry or cause trouble. If you do that, you will be the one who will experience trouble. You don’t want that.

Happy travels!

Posted in

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Jeff Jenks
Jeff Jenks
5 years ago

Its reasonable!

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Jeff Jenks

I agree Jeff. Even beyond reasonable.. it enhances our security! So, it’s good!

Scott Michaelis
5 years ago

what exactly is a government ID? I have ACR-I card and PHP drivers license.

Bob Martin
5 years ago

A Government ID is an ID issued by the government. Yes, and ACR I Card is a Government ID because it is issued by the Bureau of Immigration, which is a part of Government. Driver’s License is fine. Postal ID. Government agency work ID.

Scott Michaelis
5 years ago

thank you

Scott Michaelis
5 years ago

yesterday while traveling to Bislig and a bit farther, we were stopped 4 times and had to depart the bus and show ID which is appropiate I feel, however a particular women soldier asked me for my passport which I do not carry with me. She informed me I need to do that at this point on??

Bob Martin
5 years ago

I agree, it is an appropriate thing right now. I am not surprised, it is the same as I experienced last weekend. Foreigners are supposed to carry passports with them, but the ACR I-Card should be fine.

Maddog Bruce
5 years ago

Good article!

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Maddog Bruce

Thank you Bruce! I am glad you enjoyed it.

Scott Michaelis
5 years ago

Bob, do you feel that a copy of the passport would suffice?

Bob Martin
5 years ago

Personally, I don’t carry my passport and have never been asked. Probably it would be fine, but I really don’t know.

LeRoy Miller
5 years ago

Not to put words into your story, but what I read was to behave as what was called a gentleman when I was being raised.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  LeRoy Miller

You can insert those words, LeRoy, because that is exactly how I feel! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wally Barr
5 years ago

That a crazy route through those mountain passes are crazy.. I saw a few busses barreling down..I’d hate to be in one of those busses.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Wally Barr

There’s only one mountain pass between Davao City and General Santos city. It’s pretty short to it only takes around 5 minutes to go through. Is that the area you’re talking about?

Wally Barr
5 years ago
Reply to  Wally Barr

Ya.. The one and then through those towns.. The ones also outside of Gensan I have 5 or 6 busses pass me and I was going pretty fast.. Most of them drive reckless and too fast.

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Wally Barr

My feeling is that the buses go a lot slower now than they did 15 or 20 years ago. I don’t know, I don’t really have a problem with the bus operation in this part of the country now. I’ve written some buses in Cebu that we’re just absolutely crazy.

Wally Barr
5 years ago
Reply to  Wally Barr

The ones I came across between Davao and Gensan and Gensan and Kiamba played chicken with on coming vehicles, travelled in excessive speed. I saw one accident were a bus hit a motorcyclist. Not all but enough for it to be an issue as a few accidents in other parts of the country have made the news in recent months. Maybe the checkpoints are a good thing it forces the bus drivers to stop more frequently.

Jeff Jenks
Jeff Jenks
5 years ago

It stops the Maute and their families from having ‘safe havens’ outside of Lanao del Sur

hgb
hgb
5 years ago

Great article.

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  hgb

Thank you

Hepe
Hepe
5 years ago

In Zamboanga City things have remained much as normal though the inbound checkpoint has been beefed up and rearranged to handle the ID checks. Traffic is divided into three lanes so that the motorcycles and PST have a Lane each with the commercial and private vehicles sharing the third Lane. I always carry my passport and remove sunglasses without request. Military are very courteous. There is no local curfew (Like others I am home early) and the Mayor, Beng Climaco is very vigilant to the point of conducting spot checks and accompanying security forces at all hours. Like most of… Read more »

Bob - Expat Answer Man
Reply to  Hepe

I agree, sounds like very reasonable steps are being taken.

Giovanni Revelo
Giovanni Revelo
5 years ago

Good to know that people can still travel with ease in spite of the recent events and the checkpoints. I have to say that being born two years before the first Martial Law was declared (September of 1972), the present one is a bit relaxed (I think.) Particularly with checkpoints (both static and the “ronda” types or instant checkpoints) that people need to extend a bit more of their patience as the authorities have good reason to be a bit jittery. Contrary to popular belief, Mindanao island is riddled with lot of backroads with some dating to as far back… Read more »

Bob - Expat Answer Man

Hi Giovanni – How are you doing? I found most people to be very patient at the checkpoints so that was good. It sounds like you know your way around Mindanao very well! So do I. ๐Ÿ™‚

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