Roaming in Davao

by Danny A. Tariman

When one speaks of Davao, what immediately comes to my mind is durian or pomelo fruits. True enough, because these 2 fruits are among the most popular fruits from Davao.

But Davao is more than these fruits. It is also home to the Philippine eagle, the famous crocodile farm, and a lot more places of interest. Join me roam around Davao.

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Davao City at night as seen from Jack’s Ridge

We flew in late in the evening, arriving at the airport at about half-past-ten. This was my second time to come to Davao, my first was over 25 years ago. But for my 2 children, it was their first. There is this certain level of uncertainty as we stepped out of the airport.

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This is me, holding a live baby crocodile at the Davao Crocodile Farm

The taxi cab took us to the hotel after many turns. I am actually lost. I don’t know the place and traveling at night in an unknown place is something that I avoid. But thanks to the strict discipline of the local city executive, our taxi driver was good. We arrived at the hotel quickly. No fussy transaction with the driver; just plain honest-to-goodness metered taxi.

The hotel was really nice and clean, and very economical. For a family of 4, I really cannot complain about the cost. And its location is perfect – right in the middle of the city, and a short walking distance to the Cathedral.

Day 1

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The ostrich pen inside the Crocodile Farm

We woke up early to maximize our time in Davao. After the free breakfast at the hotel, we went to Crocodile Farm. Wow, this is
really an experience! The park is not just for crocs, there are a lot of other species that we saw. There were birds – yes, big birds, including the ostrich! The ostriches were quite friendly, you can actually let the birds peck your hands with its big beak. Scary! And there are all sorts of snakes, and monkeys, and lion too! It is a zoo! Hahaha!

If you want exotic food, there is a restaurant beside the zoo that offers crocodile dishes – from sizzling sisig to kare-kare, to steak. And it is butchered right inside the place.

Adjacent to the Crocodile Park is a Cultural Village. The place has a lot of local items to for sale: clothes, clothing accessories, handicrafts, native delicacies, and a host of souvenir items. There is even an “Alamid Coffee” and a display of a live amalid! Alamid is a wild cat which feeds on cocoa bean fruits. The excreted beans are cleaned, roasted, and ground to make a coffee. Do you think you can take this cat’s excrete for coffee? Ouch!

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Butterfly House

We visited the Butterfly House which is just a walking distance from the Crocodile Park. The place is not so big, the central being a big dome made of net. We went inside the dome and mingled with the beautiful and colorful winged insects.

In the evening, we traveled to Samal Island via a 15-minute ride on a Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) ship. We just stayed inside our van during the short boat ride and upon reaching the dock, we drove for about an hour to a resort where we slept for the night.

Day 2.

A rainy morning at a resort in Samal Island greeted our second day. And even it was cold because of the rain, we still decided to have a swim in the beach. The sand is fine and creamy; very nice to your bare feet. It was just that the weather was cloudy that prevented us from enjoying the sun & the beach to its fullest.

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A big eagle — not the Philippine eagle — with us family in the background.

We moved back to the city after our lunch and visited the Philippine Eagle Center. It was raining – in fact, heavy rains. This didn’t dampen our spirt, none-the-less. We continued our tour at the eagle center with our umbrellas. At the center, my family was accompanied by a tour guide who explained to us the many facets of the eagle center. It was both educational and amusing! The experience was an encounter with the monkey-eating eagle whose wings spans 2 meters with its huge claws and beak.

After the eagle center, we traveled back to the city, dropping off at a durian factory outlet. Oh, that was a nice visit, as you can taste different varieties of durian candy. We even ordered a smoothie (durian shake) which really tastes exotically excellent!

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My family at the Jack’s Ridge, overlooking Davao City.

We had a dinner at Jack’s Ridge with a cousin and her family that I have not seen for a long time. Wow, the place is really nice – overlooking the city and the wind so cold. You need to bring your jackets. We ordered Davao dishes like grilled tuna, sauteed tuna egg, and other Filipino dishes. We enjoyed not only the place but also the food.

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Blugre Coffee where this durian cappuccino is served.

We capped the evening with durian cappuccino at the downtown, a “must” if you haven’t tasted one. Wow, the place was like a local version of Starbucks! Good ambiance, great coffee, good company!

Day 3

Our third day was a Sunday. We started our day going to Mass at San Pedro Cathedral which is a short walking distance to our hotel. We missed the Museo Dabawenyo as it is open only on weekdays.

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The Peoples’ Park, Davao.

We walked toward the People’s Park. While walking we had a taste of durian ice candy (or ice cream bar). It was really so good, we came back for another round. This is a “must try” delicacy that comes at a very low price!

We shopped at Aldevinco shopping arcade. If you are looking for a good place to buy local crafts, this is the place to go. My daughter was able to buy a back-pack bag in muslim-inspired design. My son was able to buy a local canoe replica made of wood.

We visited also some popular places like The Peak – the roof top of a mall with a garden in the middle and surrounded by restaurants. We also went to Abreeza, a mall owned and operated by Ayala Land.

We went back to the airport for our flight back to Manila at 7pm will full of good memories of Davao.

My family really enjoyed our roaming around the city.

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