Two weeks ago, I and my household decided to escape the early summer heat and have our Sunday lunch out. It was easy for me to decide which place to go. Having already tried many places within the city, I thought, why not revisit Blue Haven Resort and Durian Park in the town of Banga? It's been a while since the last time.
Blue Haven is not your typical pretentious resort. Its beauty is in its simplicity; its sprawling grounds being located in a very idyllic setting -- in the middle of vast ricefields just outside Banga proper, its surroundings lined with durian and other fruit and wood trees.
The resort has a picnic area with kiosks that can accommodate groups of varied sizes, and a mid-sized irregularly shaped pool in the middle mainly for the use of kids. On one side is a canopied space for wedding and baptismal receptions and similar parties; and on the other is a covered and raised pavilion for the more serious stuff like meetings and conferences.
But if one wants a more serene atmosphere, he or she can always retreat to one of three lodging cabins, two of which offer a good green (or golden, depending on the season) view of the surrounding ricefields from the shared veranda. The cabins are a new feature of Blue Haven which was absent during my last visit to the place. According to Ms. Gemma Young-Paciente, the other half of the couple who owns the place (the other being Mr. Armand G. Paciente), they hope to add more lodging space in the near future to accommodate growing demand for it.
Blue Haven's front desk hall houses the restaurant where patrons can indulge on food and drinks while sitting and dining on exquisitely designed hardwood chairs and tables.
My family, being less adventurous than I am, was not up to tasting some of the unique food that the restaurant has to offer. For lunch, we just opted for the common yet nonetheless satisfying chopsuey and fried chicken. We also did not pass up the chance to feast on the "native chicken" tinola, a kind of food which one cannot always have in the city. (Piece of advice: to fully enjoy this dish you may have to request for a longer cooking time as native chicken, as we all know, has meat that's very "hard to please".)
The resort's menu, however, lists food that can face up to the challenge of patrons with more discriminating tastes. The inihaw na hito (grilled catfish), pritong kokak (fried toad) and some quail and rabbit dishes are just some which can make one's visit in Blue Haven a great food trip.
The fresh durian fruit was missed however as it was not season. Blessing in disguise, as the refreshing durian shake proved to be a worthy substitute.
Blue Haven Resort and Durian Park is located at Barangay Liwanay (Barrio Uno), Banga, South Cotabato. If you are going westward along the Allah Valley highway, you can't miss its signage to your right just before you exit Banga towards the town of Surallah. For reservations and other inquiries, you may call Gemma or Armand at (083) 239-2616.