Davao in 2 days

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Monday, March 30, 2015

At an expansive 2,443 square kilometers and the gateway and jump-off point to other destinations, Davao City has a myriad of things to offer to those wanting to take a worthwhile summer break.

If you are given two days to wander around Davao City and its peripheries here are some of the places to go.

Day 1


Breakfast at the beach. One can have an early morning swim and enjoy a hearty breakfast at Paradise Island Park Beach Resort in Samal. Its main attraction is the family friendly white sand shoreline, the restaurant along the beach offers specialty dishes great to gorge on after a swim.

Paradise Island is the most convenient and perhaps the nearest beach resort in Samal Island from Davao City proper, it will take just 7 minute passenger boat ride from their jump off point at Depot in Sasa.

After a breakfast at Paradise, take a Downtown tour. Davao City has parks and museums and other urban destinations within the central business district area.

D’Bone Collector Museum – located in a narrow road in Bucana, a few meters from the Davao City Recreation Center (Almendras Gym), D’Bone Collector Museum has about 1,500 bone specimens spread in a display area of 750 square meters. Among the museum’s showcase is the only complete Houtili Beaked Whale skeleton in the world. Then there is the 41-foot sperm whale skeleton, one of the four known assembled sperm whale skeletons in the country.

You are in great luck if museum founder Darrell Blatchley will be your tour guide. Darrell, who is also dedicated environmentalist will enthral every visitor with very informative details about the bone specimens and other anecdotes.

Museo Dabawenyo - after D’Bone, you can proceed to nearby Museo Dabawenyo located along Magallanes Street. The museum gives you a dose of Davao City’s colorful history.

Davao Cinematheque/Pasalubong Center – The Davao Cinematheque is one of the four cinematheques established by the Film Development Council of the Philippines across the country. It aims to expose the public to various films curated from Filipino film industry, the burgeoning indie film movement and also from world cinema. If your visit coincides with a screening schedule you can watch never-before seen movies free of charge at the cool confines of the 120-seat theater.

Outside the theater is a bronze statue of the great film director the late national artist for film Lino Brocka sculpted by Jonas Roces.
Just beside Cinematheque is the Davao City Pasalubong Center where you can find locally-made gifts and souvenirs.

Lunch at Majid Kabab or J. Palermos- For a bit of curiosity, these two food establishments are owned by retired cinema actors. Majid Kabab at Rizal Street is owned by former stuntman/character actor Majid Jadali who was active in the 1980s appearing mostly in Pinoy action movies and Hollywood B movies shot in the country. The walls of Majid are adorned with photos of his former works, a virtual museum of a bygone era when the Filipino movie industry was producing about 250 films a year. Of course, his kebabs is a hit among locals.

J. Palermo on the other hand is owned by Juliana Palermo, the sexy film and TV actress who retired from showbiz in 2008. Juliana (real name Alvi July Juanico) is a pure-blooded Dabawenya. If lucky you can meet the still comely Juliana who often comes by her resto located along Circumferential Road. Even if you don’t meet Juliana, her dishes offered are still a welcome lunchtime treat.

By the afternoon you can proceed to Davao Crocodile Park at the Riverfront Corporate Center along Diversion Road, about 20 minutes from downtown.

Aside from crocodiles you can find other exotic animals such as tigers, snakes, wild boars, monkeys, deer, various bird species. Some of the animals can be petted. The park is the home of currently the largest crocodile in the world - Lolong.

There is also a butterfly sanctuary within the compound. During late afternoon shows artists perform death-defying stunts in the presence of the fearsome-looking crocs.

Located beside the Crocodile Park is the Tribu K’Mindanawan Cultural Village which presents the culture of Mindanao’s indigenous tribes. The tribal houses located in the village were built by authentic indigenous people. On weekends you can watch cultural presentations and fire dances at the amphitheater.

Dinner Kusina Sa Subli or White House Fusion Cuisine. The place to go during dinner time depends upon your palate and budget. If you want a dash of fine dining proceed to White House Fusion Cuisine located along the Camella Northpoint property along JP Laurel.

White House is the former Ker Mansion, named after Robert Ker, a Scottish abaca plantation owner. One of the few remaining heritage structures in the city, the pine trees planted by Camella in the surroundings gives you a colonial hill station ambiance minus the cold weather.

The fine-dining resto is perhaps the only one in Davao offering degustation or multi-course meals with servings in smaller sizes. The dishes is a fusion of Japanese, French, Italian and American cuisine. It was featured in the ABS-CBN late morning show Kris TV with Kris Aquino personally visiting the house to partake of its specialties.

If you are going budget meals, I recommend the Kusina Sa Subli, located within a residential neighborhood in Suburban Davao. Their tuna belly is a must-try. It also offers familiar seafood grilled specialties such as grilled panga and pusit.

For a nightcap, one could go to Mono Bar located at the Peak in Gaisano Mall. The bar has a panoramic view of downtown Davao. For clubbing one could proceed at Echelon Bar which is separated by a wall from Mono, Davao City’s top DJs churn out wicked beats of Electronic Dance Music and if you are again in luck you can catch celebrity DJs spinning their music at the club.

If you have time to bar-hop (note that Davao has a 1 pm liquor ban ordinance) you can still go to Acropolis Superclub, reopened last year after more than a decade of hiatus. You can bump and dance with party-loving locals to the beat of Acropolis' posse of DJs.

If dancing is not your thing, you can go to Huckleberry Southern Kitchen and Bar, located at the ground floor of the Casa de Oboza, another heritage structure. Huckleberry's American south inspired dishes paired with its signature alcoholic concoctions and cocktails is a hit among locals and tourists.

Day 2

If you want some highland adventure proceed to Calinan where several destinations await visitors and locals alike.

The Philippine Eagle Center is home to 36 Philippine Eagles and several other birds like hawks, hornbills and pigeons. The center is made to simulate a forest ecosystem which is the dwindling habitat of these noble fliers. The PEC is located in Malagos within the watershed maintained by the Davao City Water District.

After PEC, you can proceed to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s Tamayong Prayer Mountain. The 8-hectare center is named as The Garden of Eden Restored. Entering the facility is like entering a sprawling landscaped flower-filled garden with palatial houses painted in yellow, blue and pink colors.

It was formerly the homestead of Pastor Quiboloy’s physical parents, who were migrants from Pampanga. This is the place where Pastor Quiboloy trained spiritually for 5 years before embarking on building his growing church. The compound was built in 1999.

The Prayer Mountain accepts visitors and is open to all religions. However, before visiting you may book your visits with the office of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ by calling these numbers 304-0647 or 234-2866 local 123.

You can have lunch at Martha’s inside the Prayer Mountain or you might want to try the several eateries along Los Amigos in Calinan which serve hito or catfish in different dishes.

You might want to spend the afternoon shopping for pasalubong at the Aldevinco Shopping Center on C.M. Recto, the stalls in the area sell traditional souvenir items.

For a shopping adventure proceed to Davao City Chinatown District where several strip malls sell Chinese goods ranging from fashion apparel to electronic goods.

Near Chinatown is Magsaysay Park, outside the park are stalls which sell durian, the iconic fruit of which the city is famous for.

For dinner and nightcap proceed to Matina Town Square where there are several restos like the Stairwell, Jickongs, Juno Churrasco Brazilian Steaks. After dinner one would opt for halo-halo at Aling Fopings, you might also want to try their famous chili con carne which is said to be the personal favorite of President Noynoy Aquino.

Taboan also at Matina Town Square features live performances from local showbands, indie bands or cultural ensemble depending on the schedule.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 30, 2015.


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