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Endowed with a variety of picturesque landscapes, Davao’s
topography dazzles: Fruit plantations and orchid farms mantle
volcano-fed hills and valleys. Virgin forests nurture rare
wildlife. Coral islands lie on mirror flat water. And the
country’s highest peak magnificently lords over the hinterland.
Just as enchanting is its brilliant tapestry of harmony, woven
from the diverse cultural threads of its people. In Davao, the
contemporary fuses with the traditional as migrant settlers from
all over the country co-exist in peace with a fairly large
expatriate community and numerous ethnic tribes who continue to
live as they did centuries ago.
A CITY THAT STRADDLES TWO WORLDS
It is the hub of commerce and industry in the Southern Mindanao
region. Yet, to this day, Davao City continues to straddle two
worlds - the new and the old. Part of it is a flourishing
metropolis of business districts, mechanized farms and
cosmopolitan villages where "instant millionaires" live. And the
other part is a rural landscape of hills that roll down into
fertile valleys, dominated by the 2,954-meter-high Mount Apo,
the grandfather of all Philippine mountains, and peopled by the
Bagobo, Manobo, Mandaya, Bilaan and other ancestral tribes.
LAND OF PLENTY
"Kadayawan sa Dabaw" is Davao City’s premier festival and
showcases the natural and cultural bounty of the land. A movable
feast in August, the week-long merrymaking highlights the
manifold tribal cultures of the region which are vividly
expressed in traditional songs, dances, games and crafts. It is
also on this occasion when a lively trade fair, capped by a
flower-and-fruit float parade, takes place. Street dancing and
popular entertainment complete the celebration.
Agriculture-based industries thrive in the Davao region. A major
exporter of bananas, citrus, mangosteen and other tropical
fruits, it is also the biggest producer of cultured flowers in
the country. Its surrounding waters are rich sources for
commercial fishing. The world’s largest city in terms of land
area, Davao covers all of 244,000 hectares.
KING OF THE HEAVENS
The Philippine Eagle has the countenance of regal majesty -
snowy white plumes dappled with gray, a distinct crested head
matched with a pair of sharp eyes and strong curved beak, a
powerful eight-foot wingspan, and lethal preying claws. An
endangered species, the world’s largest eagle has found refuge
at the Philippine Eagle Research and Nature Center in the
Malagos rainforest in Calinan, 45 minutes away from downtown
It was here where the first ever Philippine Eagle was born in
captivity. Aptly named Pag-asa (Hope), she is testament to how
seriously Davao protects its environmental heritage. To this
day, more eaglets are bred and nurtured at the sanctuary. Only
too soon, the Philippine Eagle will take its rightful place in
the sky. Soaring proud and unafraid as King of the Heavens.
QUEEN OF THE RAINFOREST
On the slopes of Mount Apo was discovered the waling-waling, an
orchid of exceptional attributes - with full, velvety petals
tinged in royal colors of purple, red and yellow. So delicate is
this stunning bloom that it can only thrive on fresh and balmy
air. The waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana) has since been
successfully transplanted from its natural environment and
cultivated in many of Davao’s flower farms. Retailing at several
hundred dollars a plant, the Queen of the Rainforest has become
an attractive business proposition.
Davao’s claim to culinary fame is grilled "bariles" (tuna) jaw
dipped in soy sauce and "kalamansi" (native lemon). The
marketplace, abundant with seafoods, meats and fresh tropical
fruits, is the best place to savor local flavors. At the Sta.
Ana Wharf, Luz Kinilaw Place is famous for its local version of
the Japanese sashimi - bite-size chunks of raw fish marinated in
vinegar, chili pepper and other spices. For more gustatory
experiences, drop by the restaurant row along F. Torres St. and
Magsaysay Park. Also check out Fiesta Dabaw and Zugba Restaurant
at Apo View Hotel and Yellow Fin Restaurant at Ecoland.
One simply does not get bored in Davao. There are just so many
options for a pleasurable stay. Try cultural immersion. Or farm
visit. Or golf. Or trek. Or scuba dive. Or shop. Or simply laze
around the islands and watch the world go by. The possibilities
just go on and on… At the T’boli Weaving Center, watch the
colorful tribe of bola women as they handloom the intricate
tinalak fabric. More tribal art and material culture can be
gleaned at the nearby Davao Museum. Brassware, ethnic trinkets
and shellcraft make great souvenirs. Splurge and indulge at the
Aldevinco Shopping Center on CM Recto Street, Nieva’s Arts and
Crafts in Lanang, Precy’s Creation and Handicrafts in Bajada,
and Handmade Treasures at Gaisano Mall.
Orchids, whether cut or potted, are also good buys. Check out
the Mindanao Flower Market (Minflo Mart) in Barangay Pampanga.
For more farm visits, go to the Bago Oshiro Experimental Station
in Mintal, Derling Worldwide Orchid Corporation in Buhangin,
Greenhills Orchid Farm in Catalunan Peque๑o, Puentespina Orchid
Garden in Agdao, or the Malagos Garden Resort (Orchid Farm) at
the Baguio district in Calinan. At the Gap Fruit Farm, one can
gorge on Davao’s famous sweet pomelos and oranges.
Two of the country’s most popular 18-hole golf courses are found
in Davao. Lanang Golf and Country Club has its fairways laid out
in an estate lush with tropical fruits while Apo Golf and
Country Club in Dumoy is set on a vast coconut plantation with
natural hazards. For those with less time to fore, the 9-hole
New Davao City Golf Club in Matina fits the tee. Nightlife
entertainment is provided by music bars, discotheques and the
casino, which also serves good food and offers live musical
Filipinos do not simply provide the guest with a place to rest
or park their luggage, they also share the best of what they
have. This warm, effusive brand of hospitality is what
distinguishes Philippine hotels from the others.