Published: October 30th 2009October 9th 2009
Davao By Day
Viewed from our room in Marco Polo Hotel
What to do in Davao?
I have made many visits to Davao in the past, and have felt I have run out of things to do. There is the famous Pearl Farm
in Samal Island. I would not mind going back again, but surely , there has got to be other things to do. Then there is the Eden Nature Park where I remember fishing with my little Patricia, then aged 3. She caught a small one, yet that was one of her proudest moments then.
Having made this 90 minute plane ride from Manila to this part of Southern Philippines, I thought we were ready for some unexpected twists on this trip. As soon as we arrived , I was pleasantly surprised with the new Davao International Airport. It is not huge, but the place is very tidy and organized. Not at all like those dim, disorganized and dirty airports in the Philippines described in Lonely Planet. Well, Lonely Planet was wrong!
We soon picked up our bags and ventured out to hail a cab to take us to Marco Polo Hotel where we would stay for the next few days. The cab
driver kept reminding us that taxi fare from airport to the hotel usually costs around 500 pesos (about $10) but rather than argue, we simply kept quiet and paid him what the meter demanded. And that was just 130 pesos, though I gave him 200 pesos which is the equivalent of US$4. What is an additional US $2 anyway? That should keep him happy enough. And to be fair, he was not insistent. Just trying his luck, I guess. (This may be hard to understand for some of you, but I have acquired maximum tolerance in this department. If they try, but do not insist, I can be tolerant, even generous. I know poverty sucks. And if these guys try, yet remain respectful and courteous, that's fine with me.)
Now, Marco Polo
is a good hotel but next time I come, I would certainly look for cheaper accommodations. This one hurts the pocket. And Davao is not short on places where to stay. I just chose this hotel as my nieces tagged along and I wanted them to experience the same hotel where little Patricia and I stayed a few years back. We were able to check in
early (bless them!) and as soon as we did, we ventured out to the shopping place (Aldevinco) right in front of the hotel to check out what stuff they got. There would be lots of souvenirs to get there, but we were not exactly keen on that. Oh, all right, I got myself a house dress. ;-) What I remember most though is the pervading aroma of durian all around the shopping area. My friend E made a mental note of that, as well as her shopping list which includes another local fruit, marang.
My friends from Cagayan de Oro City in Northern Mindanao traveled all of 6 hours to meet up with us in Davao. We had dinner that evening in that landmark of a place in Davao called Dencia's. We had a feast of a dinner, and thought we would roll out of the restaurant by the time dinner was over. Good thing we went to Jack's Ridge after dinner for a breezy evening, a panoramic view of the city by night, and a chat under the moonlight. These are my friends from way back.....oh, maybe all the way back. We took pride in that we
could still climb up and down the stairs at Jack's Ridge while chatting around some old topics like how the kids have grown, meeting our other friends from college days and how they are these days, the forthcoming presidential elections, and the more recent topics like the typhoon which hit Manila, and their adopted twins. Whatever, it is always good to be with good old friends. My nieces grew up knowing my circle of friends and counted off our years of friendship. That should be a good reminder for them to stack up on their own set of friends, to keep forever and close.
Buda stands for BU
kidnon and DA
vao. It is right at the boundary of these 2 lovely provinces. My friends took us there, just an hour and a half drive away . It is amazing how temperature from the Davao metropolis to this place dropped considerably. My friends reminded me to bring a jacket, and was I glad I did. They took us to a place where they put up a dormitory type structure in a lot bordered by pine trees and flowers. There was even an old house which
they maintained. Soon, they will have this place rented out (they say for US $30 a day/night for the entire place) good for groups as many as 8-10 pax.
On our way to this resthouse cum dormitory, we stopped to buy local fruits , vegetables and drinks. By the time we got to their place, the fruits were ready for the taking, while my friend M was whipping up a salad. Meanwhile, there is tuna belly grilling in an outside pit and some shrimps being steamed. And M's famous adobo (pork and chicken stewed in vinegar and soysauce, fried, then stewed anew). Everything fresh, every morsel of food "just in time". You never get it this good back in Manila!
After lunch, we wandered around the flower shrubs and vines, the pine trees , the old house, the dormitory a floor below. We lingered by the cliffside and soaked in the vista. Then we took the van again to visit the nearby Seagull Mountain Resort. The place has small yellow and blue cottages for rent, a small cafe, a swimming pool area by the waterfalls , a chapel, and a summit where one is afforded a panoramic
view of the mountains around Bukidnon and Davao. We were disappointed though about the way the owners built solid structures around the waterfalls, not knowing how that could spoil the natural beauty of the place. The pools were simply out of place. The railings towards the waterfalls seem to be the only thing they did right about the area. All others are better undone. What a waste!
With the breeze slapping our faces endlessly, we then decided to get down and enjoy our cups of brewed coffee in the nearby cafe. We then trooped back to the van for our ride back into the city. Well not really. We actually went past the city to go to Panabo at the outskirts of Davao City. Here we met up with more friends over dinner and a night of karaoke singing. The younger generation with us were all amazed over the energy of their parents, aunts and uncles screaming at the top of their lungs, belting out a tune from long ago. So, what else is new? By the time we got back on the van for our trip back to the hotel, we were out of energy.
Waking up late the following morning, we lingered over our breakfast. The day earlier, we bumped into ex-colleagues from the bank we used to work for at the breakfast lounge. They still work for the same bank, out here in Davao on official business. This time around, we were glad to enjoy a lazy morning and then got back to our rooms to continue being lazy. Our friends picked us up for yet another meeting with another old friend. The Spanish restaurant where we had lunch served the best paella ever, and we were surprised to learn that the dining place was actually owned by a Dutch married to a Filipina. Chef-owner Heny runs a place worth going back to in Davao. After all the local cuisine we tried in days past, it was good to try some Spanish cuisine (remember, the Philippines was under Spanish rule for almost 400 years, and we do love Spanish food) like paella, lengua and gambas. After lunch and over steaming espressos, we again updated each other and regaled on old jokes we never grew tired laughing at. The banter continued on long past lunch as we dropped by Davao Insular Hotel , for
many years the prime hotel in the area . The expanse of open space and the beachfront make for a good time to rest in the company of friends. We occupied one hut by the waters and wasted the hours away before we got ready to drive to the airport. Well, there were just too many chapters in our lives worth laughing and remembering. We have had many adventures in our youth, and looking back, we all agreed we didn't do badly at all. Our parents were mom and dad to all, we mourned together, loved together, and had fun together. From sodas to steaming espressos, lattes and green teas, we have grown old (but young in spirit) and kept close with many memories between us. It is a wonderful life. And friends make life such a day-to-day event worthy to celebrate!!!!
There are more photos below