Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Around 7.8 times the size of Cebu and three times that of the entire Metro Manila, Davao City is known by many names: “Crown jewel of Mindanao,” “Durian capital of the Philippines,” “City of Royalties,” “Fruit basket of the Philippines,””Orchid Capital of the Philippines,”and the “Gateway to the East ASEAN.”
Today, Davao City is also known as the place where the current President, Rodrigo R. Duterte comes from. During his recent 73rd birthday, he spent time with his grandchildren in the said house. There’s no place like home, so goes a saying.
To people who live in Davao City, life is indeed here. Those who visit the city once say they always long to come back. And there are a lot of things one can do in this fabled city.
You can start your tour at the City Hall in San Pedro Street. The next stop could be the Legislative Building with the famous freedom statue designed by the talented Kublai Millan. Adjacent to the statue is the historic San Pedro Cathedral.
One can also take a taxi and tell the driver to travel to Legazpi Street’s People’s Park—Davao’s answer to Manhattan’s Central Park in New York. It’s a place where people gather around, stroll and cross bridges, watch man-made waterfalls or sit under beautiful trees.
Yes, the simplest way to get around Davao City is by hopping on a taxi. Unlike in other big cities, drivers in Davao do not normally bargain if they notice that you are a tourist, hence the cost of the trip is the same in price as a regular.
In fact, taxi drivers in Davao are regarded as the most honest taxi drivers in the Philippines. Alternatively, if you opt for more adventure, then do as the locals do and catch a colorful jeepney. Simply ask around for which route to take to avoid getting lost.
San Pedro Cathedral was declared by the Philippine government as one of the country’s national cultural treasures.
The original carvings of the images of saints and the altar decorations are well-preserved and have undergone many renovations.
In Matina, you can go to the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, which has an open air chapel. In Cabaguio Avenue in Agdao District, visit the biggest Buddhist temple in Mindanao.
As the city’s repository of its cultural and historical heritage, Museo Dabawenyo in Pichon Street has galleries that showcase the local tribes’ cultures and way of living. See artifacts and delve into extensive documents on the city’s history.
There is a hall of changing exhibits, not to mention art shows and various educational enrichment activities. Not far from the museum is Camp Domingo Leonor, quarters of the Spanish and later American soldiers in the 1920s.
Located in Toril, the Eden Nature Park—at 2,650 feet above sea level—offers a breath-taking bird’s eye view of the city and the Davao Gulf in the distance. The Malagos Garden Resort in Calinan has an amazing bird show every weekend plus you get a glimpse of the sculptures of National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
If wildlife is your thing, visit the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District and get up close and personal with the country’s bird icon. At the Crocodile Park in Carlos P. Garcia Highway, be wowed by “Pangil,” the second largest crocodile in the country. There are other animals, too like the tiger, deer, birds, and snakes.
Zipline is a breathtaking outdoor thrill ride. This will have you enjoying the view of the outdoors carrying you from one point to another. Davao has three places: Eden Nature Park, Outland Adventure and Zip City (both on Diversion Road).
Also in Eden, you can do two other things: skycycling and skyswing.
Wakeboarding is another extreme sport that is gaining popularity. If you think you can stomach being pulled while boarding on water, go ahead. Try Deca Wakeboard Park in Tacunan, Mintal.
Eat fruits to your heart’s content.
Davao City is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of delicious, succulent fruits all year round. It’s fertile, volcanic soil makes it most suitable for sustained production of the tastiest tropical fruits in the country.
Try the mango, pomelo, banana, papaya and mangosteen. Don’t miss eating the exotic durian, famous because of its spike and offensive scent. As one scribe noted: “It smells like hell, but tastes like heaven.”
There is no shortage of accommodations in Davao. Among the recommended ones are the Marco Polo Davao on Claveria, the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Ponciano, the Grand Regal Hotel and Casino Filipino, Radisson Inn, and the Waterfront Insular Hotel on Lanang, and the Apo View Hotel. There are also lodges and inns all around the city.
For souvenirs and pasalubong (take home presents), opt for the colorful traditional tribal weaves and natural products of the city’s indigenous groups. These wealth of native art and design are available at the Aldevinco Shopping Center.
You can also visit the Davao Pasalubong Center in Palma Gil Street for souvenir and gift items, home decors, indigenous costumes and native accessories using locally sourced and recyclable materials. For juicy pomelo and yummy durian fruits, check out those areas located in Magsaysay Park and the Madrazo Fruit Stands.
Just a reminder or two when you are in Davao City: Drinking of alcoholic beverages is allowed only until 1 am. From thereon, until eight in the morning, drinking is strictly prohibited.
Smoking is also not allowed, except in private houses, private vehicles, and in the smoking area of establishments that applied for exception.
“It is a city by appearance but a village by heart; it is a city by appearance, but a home by heart.” This is how columnist Rene Lizada describes Davao.
Have fun in Davao this summer!