As I walked through the bustling street of CM Recto, or Claveria as Davaoeños fondly call, I can’t help but notice people as they stride along the paved sidewalk surrounded with commercial establishments. Some were talking through their handheld phones while the others were busy browsing their iPod Touch. But most of them, including me, just stood there, waiting patiently for the jeep to come. I hailed one that plied the Bajada route since I was going to visit the newly-opened gargantuan mall owned by the Ayalas. It was about half past eight in the evening when I went home. It took me two jeepney rides before I finally got home safe and sound. I still have my cellphone, wallet and my iPod Nano. Most of all, I am still alive. If I were in Manila, chances of getting mauled by robbers are high. Very high, I must say. That’s just one of the things I love about my hometown. Almost all of its constituents follow the rules, regulations and city ordinances of the local government which might have contributed to the city’s relatively low crime rate.
I was lucky enough to be born in the 90s. I haven’t experienced being mauled by snatchers. I haven’t even witnessed a ‘shooting’ spree at a local market. I won’t deny that Davao has its own bloody past. But look at Davao now. If you take a glimpse in every corners of the city, there’s progress.
I am truly proud that I live in this city. Seat back, relax and enjoy this virtual tour about Davao City, the City of Bloom.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Davao was first inhabited by local tribes (Bagobo) until in 1848 when an expedition of 70 men and women led by Don Jose Cruz de Uyanguren arrived at the shores of Davao River (formerly known as Tagloc River). To make the long story short, Datu Bago’s unsharpened bolo was no match for Don Uyanguren’s then-high tech artillery, thus causing the latter to claim and establish his throne in the city. It was until in the 1900s when the Americans arrived and made Davao as the major exporter of abaca, copra and lumber. On December 8th, 1941, the Japanese bombed Davao and occupied the city a year later.
More and more migrants from Luzon and Visayas flocked the major cities of Mindanao, including Davao. According to my grandparents who came all the way from Ilocos and Leyte, Mindanao during that time was named as “The Land of Promise”. There were more high-paying jobs offered in Mindanao’s major cities and the resources were abundant.
After the declaration of Martial Law in the 70s, tensions between the army and guerilla grew more hostile. There were bloodbaths and killings in almost every corner of the city. The Agdao district was even coined “Nicaragdao” due to the extreme violence of this particular locality. Eventually, when the Aquino administration took over, the hostility subsided and the efforts of restoring Davao were not futile.
It was in the mid-90s when Davao finally flourished. During that time, both local and international businessmen have started to pour investments and opportunities in the city. Commercial and industrial establishments developed and flourished a few years later. This had caused a drastic increase to the city’s population. As years go by, roads started to get wider to accommodate the growing traffic of the city, airlines increased their flight frequencies to and from major cities of the country and even in Southeast Asia and more residential areas have been developed in the suburbs.
Davao is very accessible and it is the primary gateway of Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA. Francisco Bangoy International Airport serves several flights to and from major cities of the Philippines (MNL, CEB, CGY, ZAM and ILO). Silk Air also serves the Davao-Singapore route, making it the only international airline to fly in the city.
The city is also served by domestic passenger ferries (Sulpicio Lines and Super Ferry) at Sasa Port and Sta. Ana Wharf.
There are several bus lines which cater routes to any major towns and cities of Mindanao such as Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, Tagum, Butuan, Digos and General Santos.
ISLANDS TO HIGHLANDS ADVENTURE
Davao sits between Davao Gulf in the south and the lush Dipterocarp forests in the northeast and northwest boundaries of the city. Because of its geographical location, the city has become a haven for thrill-seekers and nonetheless offers a plethora of choices on choosing an adventure, be at the beach or at the mountains. One may opt to take a deep plunge at Talikud Island and be enamored with its colorful coral garden or take a three-day climb to the highest peak of the country, Mount Apo.
Samal Island is best known for its picturesque white sand beaches. There is also a variety of resorts in the island, ranging from the pang-masa Paradise Island to the pang-bourgeois Malipano Island with a rate of at least Php 50,000 per night! Pearl Farm is also a famous tourist destination in Samal Island too!
I have spent countless nights in Samal Island and I’ve visited almost all resorts facing Davao City. I’d recommend you to visit Pangubatan Beach Resort, partly owned by my barkada’s parents. This resort is located at Brgy. Pangubatan, located at the other side of Samal, facing the Compostella Valley coastline. For reservations and information, please visit their Facebook Page.
If you’re not a beach person, you can also try visiting mountain resorts like Eden Nature Park and Loleng’s Mountain Resort, both located at Brgy. Bayabas at Toril, which is an hour drive from the city proper. Because of its altitude, these resorts enjoy cooler climate and offer a breathtaking view of the Davao Gulf. Although, my personal favorite is the Seagull Mountain Resort, located alongside the Bukidnon-Davao highway. It’s an hour and a half drive from the city proper. As you make your way to the resort, you will be greeted by the lush vegetation of conifers. Plateus and mountains naturally carve the landscape which are sometimes shrouded by heavy fog. A day tour package costing Php 150 per head is not that bad. The view and the cool climate are all worth it.
The city offers lots of adrenaline-packed activities such as the Xcelerator of ZipCity which is known to be the longest zipline in Asia. They can also experience white-water rafting in Calinan. Nature lovers can also visit the Philippine Eagle Nature Park at Malagos, Calinan and Crocodile Park at Diversion Road.
For fine dining, you can always try Café Marco of Marco Polo Hotel located at CM Recto cor. Roxas Avenue. It offers a wide range of international cuisines. You can bring your family, date or friends between 6:00 am to 10:30 pm to enjoy the breakfast (6:00 am to 10:30 am), lunch (11:30am to 2:30 pm) or dinner (6:00 pm to 10:30 pm). Cafe Marco has a seating capacity of 138 persons. For more information, you may reach them at this number: (082) 221 0888 local 7222.
If you’re a big fan of layered coffee and Persian cuisine but trying to save some money, then Zabadani is the right place for you. Located at Ponciano Reyes St., Zabadani is famous for its Mochachino layered coffee and beef kebab. Clients may also connect to their loved ones through wi-fi, and don’t worry, it’s totally free!
There are actually a number of restaurants that have been catering the gastronomic needs of Davaoeños for decades like the Asia Restaurant, Dencias, Luz Kinilaw Place, Colasa’s Barbeque and a whole lot more. These restaurants offer wide ranges of cuisines – from chicken and pork barbeques, Chinese and Filipino dishes, you name it. Rest assured that these restaurants will surely fill your empty stomach with their sumptuous meals at an affordable price.
DAVAO TAGALOG SPEAKS LOUDER THAN BISAYA
Davao is home to many languages, the major ones are Davawenyo (a Central-Philippine language related to Mansakan), Davao Chavacano (a Spanish creole closely related to the Chavacano of Zamboanga), and Davao Visayan (essentially a Cebuano dialect).
Here’s an example of Davao Tagalog. This is an excerpt from this site.
Whenever stating a fact, Manileños say, “Talagang masunurin si Johnny.” In Davao, we say. “Naga-obey talaga si Johnny ba!”. Whoa. Here's another example: Manileños say, “Ano nga `yong pangalan mo?”. In Davao we say, “Ano gani 'yong ngalan mo?”. When somebody commits a mistake or surprises someone, we never fail to say, “Halaka!”. D'oh!
For more examples, click this.
OLD TOWN MOTOWN
First time visitors would easily get lost whenever they enter the downtown area of Davao. Davaoeños still refer to the old names of the street than the new ones. Even the jeepney drivers hang the old names of the street, for instance, Claveria instead of CM Recto.
Manila friend: Renz, are you going to Recto?
Me: Huh? What Recto?
Manila friend: Oh, they told me that there are so many souvenir shops there eh.
Me: Ahhh. CLAVERIA.
These are Davao’s busiest streets and highly trafficked roads. Don't even attempt to go downtown if you don't familiarize with these names.
Old Name: Claveria Street
New Name: Claro M. Recto Avenue
It stretches from San Pedro Cathedral and ends near STI College and Marco Polo Hotel. This used to be the commercial district of Davao during the 70s until the late 80s.
Old Name: Magallanes Street
New Name: A. Pichon Street
This one way street starts at Metro Bank (Bankerohan) and ends near Colasa's Barbeque. Some famous landmarks can also be found here - City Library, Grand Men Seng Hotel and Magallanes Elementary School.
Old Name: Ponciano Reyes Street
New Name: C. Bangoy Street
This one way street is the opposite of CM Recto Avenue. This houses several commercial buildings, including the 911 headquarters, PLDT and Smart communications Building, Tesoro's Printing Press, the office of Davao Light and Power Company, Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Elementary School and the parking area of Marco Polo Hotel.
Old Name: Uyanguren Street
New Name: Ramon Magsaysay Avenue
This is where the China Town of Davao is located. It is also the home to many Chinese businessmen. It intersects the C.M. Recto Avenue (or Claveria) and J.P. Laurel on one end and connects all the way to the Magsasay Park on the other end.
Look for the famous landmarks I’ve posted and surely you will find your way out. Google Maps also provide the new and old names of the streets.
PARTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR
Does F. Torres St. ring a bell? Well for people who love booze, F. Torres Street is their nirvana. The street itself offers lots of bars, restaurants and KTVs. Rizal Promenade as well as Matina Town Square in McArthur Highway is also a great alternative for drinking sessions. If you and your friends love to sing, visit World Palace alongside Ecoland!
Although, you must always remember that selling/buying alcoholic drinks beyond 2 AM is strictly prohibited. Violators shall pay an expensive fine.
Worried about your limited funds? Don’t fret, my friend. You can still enjoy your stay here in Davao without paying additional fees! Try visiting People’s Park located at Palma Gil Street. Admission is free although you are not allowed to bring cigarettes, lighters or any sharp objects inside the park. Through this, the park is well maintained by the local government. Also, the works of Kublai Milan are stunningly beautiful.
One doesn’t need to travel to Europe to see Michelangelo’s David. Davao has its own replica at Baywalk at Matina Aplaya. It may have stirred protests during its construction phase but in the end, the statue of David stands proud near the shores of Davao Gulf. Truly, it is a masterpiece; a classical one.
WHERE TO STAY
For a complete list of hotels, apartelles and inns in Davao, click this.
Whenever I am in Manila, I always wanted to go back to Davao where life is easier, cheaper, less chaotic and cleaner. I’ve always traveled to different cities in the Philippines but in the end, I always look forward of going back to Davao.
Indeed, Davao is the PLACE to be.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! :)