Davao Memoir

Sunday, September 06, 2015



It was a searing Saturday afternoon when we traveled to the airport. Almost a year of wait and now the time’s finally here! We’re bound for the Crown Jewel of Mindanao. Our flight was supposed to be at NAIA Terminal 4, yet an hour before our scheduled flight we were informed our flight has just been transferred to NAIA Terminal 3. What a bummer?



Touchdown Davao, the almost 2 hour flight just went by so fast. Good thing I fell asleep the entire time because I’m not really an airplane-way-of-travel fan. We took a cab to Bagobo House Hotel Davao - situated within the downtown city making it easy to roam around the city without getting lost on your way back. We were welcomed by a city-wide black-out. As per manong driver, it’s been happening for the past several days. But then, he reassured us how safe Davao is despite the darkness. He even made us remember that we are in the 5th safest city in the world. Touché! In all fairness you can actually see the police officers stationed everywhere. When we reached our hotel, we were greeted by their very hospitable staff and offered apologies for the inconvenience brought by the blackout.


After a few minutes of rest we decided to grab some dinner. A few blocks away from the hotel is a known restaurant that offers an authentic version of bulalo. Authentic I say? Yes, instead of the usual bulalong baka (beef stew), they offer bulalong kalabaw (carabao stew) which is more popularly known to the locals as “bulcachong”. And who wouldn’t notice the Chicago Bulls logo? LOL. Another one that makes it distinct is its orange-colored broth. We were expecting the taste to be somehow caldereta or afritada-like, but to our surprise, it’s not! It was pure flavored-bulalo! And the taste? DELIZIOSO!




We started the day by having breakfast at Davao Dencia’s Restaurant. They are well-known for their lugaw and tokwa combo breakfast set.



We then went straight to San Pedro Cathedral to attend the Sunday mass – this catholic church is considered the oldest one in Davao City. If you have plans to attend masses here, make sure you’re on your formal Sunday mass attire for the guards are quite strict about dress-codes.



After lighting some candles and offering our prayers, it’s time to jump to our main agenda for the day – trip to Samal Island. It’s a neighboring island across the city. Do you know that it is considered the largest resort in the Philippines? Milot and I challenged ourselves to limit if not refrain from taking cabs to our destinations (But, since we took a cab from airport to hotel, let’s just use the word “limit” LOL). One way to reach the island is via Sasa wharf. Just take a jeepney/multicab bound for Sasa and tell the driver to drop you off at Sasa wharf. The ferries goes back and forth from Samal to mainland Davao every 15 minutes, 24/7. So no need to rush your island trip and worry about missing the last ferry home! Jeepney fare – 14 php each; ferry fare – 10 php each.


To visit the tourist destinations around the island, you have 2 choices, via habal-habal (a two-wheel single motorcycle usually ridden beyond its passenger capacity) or rent a tricycle. Since we were still hesitant to take the habal-habal option, we rented a tricycle. Manong driver’s initial offer was at an astounding 1000 php rate. Package includes trip to Monfort Bat Cave, Hagimit Falls, and Maxima Aqua Fun. After some haggling, we were finally able to settle it at 500 php. The habal-habal price on the other hand is around 100+ php per destination.


First stop was at Monfort bat cave. It holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest colony of fruit bats in the world (around 2 million).

Note: if you don’t have the stomach for unusual odors like bat dung, don’t forget to bring a hanky! 

You will also be assigned with a tour guide who will share lots of information you don’t know about bats. Do you know that there’s this rare all-white fruit bat in Monfort bat cave known as the “white lady”? There’s like 1 in every 1 million fruit bats which will make you really lucky if ever you see one! Entrance fee – 100 php each.



Next stop was Hagimit falls. The way there, specifically the path and terrain were suited for off-road vehicles. Just imagine, we were in a tricycle all the way! Booyah! It will also be a long walk down the location of the falls, so make sure to bring extra energy and lots of water with you! Entrance fee – 50 php each.



Our last stop was at Maxima Aqua Fun. This is where we enjoyed the most! A place for adventurous people who loves water slides. The slides plummets you directly to the sea with a depth of ~120 ft. Yes, it is deep! They also offer scuba diving lessons and more! After a few swim, we jumped to our last activity in the resort, the Canopy Walk. Kudos to the guides who made our hearts pop out with their nerve-wracking but funny ploys. Entrance Fee – 250 php each.


It was short yet fulfilling Samal Island experience. But if you really want to maximize your island getaway, we suggest you stay overnight in one of the beach resorts.


We had our dinner at the Marina Seafoods back in Sasa – one of the known seafood restaurants in the city. But the reason we really wanted to dine here is because of their famous Durian smoothies. Yes, it was our first time! And the taste? Superb.


We went back to the hotel afterwards and rested for a while. Then, we decided to pamper ourselves with a soothing massage from a spa just across the street. There are actually a lot of spas in downtown Davao, but the one we had was from Agos spa, the price was cheaper compared to the other spas yet it was good! I actually fell asleep the entire session. Having a good massage is indeed the best way to end a tiring day full of physical activities. Massage price – 245 php each.



We started the day by having our breakfast at Cecils’ Snack Inn & Bakeshoppe. If you go to Davao City, don’t forget to drop by and order their sought after specialty, Log-Log. Then we got a slice of cake and egg pie for dessert. Do you know that they have been offering these delicacies for almost 52 years to Davaoeños and tourists?



Second on our list for the day is to visit the Philippine Eagle Center in Calinan. To get there, take a jeepney/multicab bound for Bankerohan - Davao City’s main public market where you will see varieties of native Davao fruits like marang, mangosteen and durian. This is also where you can find the van terminal bound to Calinan. Tell the driver to drop you off right in Calinan near the habal-habal terminal. Travel time is around an hour. Since the only way to get to the Eagle Center from here is via habal-habal, we have no other choice but to muster our courage and say let’s get it on! It will take roughly 15 minutes from downtown Calinan to the center. Van fare – 40 php each; habal-habal fare- 40 PHP for both of us.

The Eagle center is filled not only with the Philippine monkey-eating eagles but also with other endangered animals like the Philippine crocodile, Tamaraws, wild boars and many more. It will take around one hour to complete the Eagle center tour. They also offer souvenirs like Eagle magnets, shirts, etc. Park environmental fee – 5 php each; entrance fee – 100 php each.



It was almost noon when we completed our Eagle Center tour. We decided to take our lunch in the nearby Malagos Garden Resort. To go there, take another habal-habal from the center and tell the driver to drop you off at the resort. The resort offers fresh vegetable salads right off from their garden (I think). Aside from the restaurant, their park also offers a mini zoo where you can see butterflies, bees, and chickens to horses and ostriches. Habal-habal – 30 php for both of us. Entrance fee and lunch package – 550 php.



Next on our itinerary for the day is to go to the Crocodile Farm. From Malagos resort take a habal-habal down to Calinan van terminal bound for Bankerohan. From Bankerohan, get on a Maa-bound jeepney. Tell the driver that you will be visiting the crocodile farm. He will then drop you off at the gasoline station where a small habal-habal terminal is located. Finally, take a habal-habal to the crocodile farm (make sure to get the number of the habal-habal driver since there are NO PUV terminals located within or near the farm and the taxis are also rare). Fare – habal-habal (Calinan) : 20 php for both of us; Van: 45 php each; Jeep to MAA: 10 php each; habal-habal (Maa): 50 php for both of us.

Apart from crocodiles, the farm has a zoo for other animals like pythons, turtles, monkeys, and many more! I even saw a small green snake looming around the bamboo trees (yes outside its terrarium!), but Milot won’t believe me! Entrance fee – 150 php each.


Of course, our crocodile farm tour will not be complete without trying their famous crocodile ice cream and sisig! You can buy the ice cream inside the farm for around 100 php while the crocodile sisig is offered by a nearby restaurant outside the farm (Riverwalk exotic restaurant) for around 600 php. The taste? Well it’s distinct, incomparable to chicken nor pork. The meat is also a little tough, nevertheless it was delicious. Aside from crocodile meat and ice cream, the farm also offers a sup of one of the most expensive coffees in the world, the Civet coffee. A small coffee pack is around 1000 php. Finally, don’t forget to take a picture with one of the famous tourist spots in Davao city – Mayor Duterte! LOL.



It was around 6 PM when we completed our crocodile farm tour. We planned to have dinner at Jack’s Ridge where it offers a view of the entire downtown Davao from the hilltop. A perfect scenery for the night! To get there, take a habal-habal back to Maa. Then from Maa get on a jeep to Matina. And from Matina, take a another jeep to Shrine Hill. Finally, ride a tricycle uphill to Jack’s ridge. Also, make sure not to be caught in the rush hour. Milot and I had to take an almost 30-45 minute-walk to Shrine Hill because all PUVs were full! Fare – habal-habal (MAA): 60 php for both of us; Jeepney to Matina: 10 php each; tricycle to Jack’s ridge: 7 php each.




We were looking forward for our breakfast this day. Milot and I were intrigued by this restaurant that offers different cuisines using Banana as the base – Saging Repablik. Yet, our expectations were even superseded! From the ambience and dining utensils to the food, everything was beyond great! Most of all, their banana cuisines were ingenious! A must try for everyone.



Since we left Manila, I haven’t had a cup of coffee and I have been really craving to get one. Coincidentally, i saw this coffee shop near the place we planned to visit for the day. What made me crave more is that they add a twist of durian to the coffee! Milot is not a fan of coffee so she ordered a chocolate frap while I sup on this new discovered coffee variant. The coffee taste was still there but the not so overwhelming durian adds a pinch to the overall aroma and taste of the brew. Price – 120 php.



Third destination for the day is Ponce Suites. It is a hotel but not your conventional one. If you are a fanatic of paintings, sculptures, etc. - the whole nine yards of art, this place is a must to visit for you. You will be welcomed by the enormous art sculptures lined the hotel’s façade. Then each floor of the establishment has a chockfull of paintings and crafts galleries ranging to different genres and motifs. You will see that Milot is really having a good time! Entrance Fee – 100 php each.



Fourth on the list is the Lon Wa Buddhist temple.



Next, we decided to drop by at the Magsaysay Park. Here, you will find a group of masseurs who offers their services (foot, head, back, and whole body massage). Milot and I tried their soothing foot massage. As for the price? It was just around 120 php.

So far, we have tried durian ice cream, smoothies, and coffee, but not the real fruit. So, we were really curious as to what it tastes like in its raw form. Good thing that we are in the same area where the Magsaysay Fruit Vendors are located. Unfortunately, the taste of the fruit was not as what we expected. For some reasons, our palate was not just made for its exotic bitter-sweet taste.


Then, it was time to buy some pasalubong so we decided to drop by at Aldevinco. This a one stop shop for souvenirs in Davao city. You can also find here a variety of malongs from 500 phph to 2000 php depending on the quality and materials used. As for the food pasalubongs, we got it from Davao Pasalubong Center just a few blocks away from our Hotel. They have durian candies, yema, mangosteen juices, and tea.


Then come dinner, which Milot and I have been again looking forward to. This time we planned to have it at Lachi’s. A well-known and frequently visited restaurant in the city. Why? Because of their best seller – Sans Rival! And all of the sans rival we have tasted, we think Lachi’s has the best so far! A really must try for all who will visit Davao. But, be ready to wait for around 30-45 minutes before you get a table because of the long queue of customers. Our tummies have been satisfied and now it’s time to go back to the hotel to end the long fun-filled day.




On the last day of our Davao escapade, we decided to have our breakfast at Taps – considered as the breakfast capital of the city. In almost all corners of the city, you will find one offering their best seller – Lekasilog (lechon kawali, sinangag, at itlog).



Next stop is at Museo Dabawenyo. One good thing with this place is that there’s no entrance fee. We were also accompanied by a museum guide who shared with us the rich history of the city as well as how their effort started to make it one of the safest cities in the world. Do you know that Mayor Duterte himself drives a taxi at night just to check the city?



Our last stop was at the D’Bone Collectors Museum afterwards. A museum full of bones (as what the museum name says). They have a wide collection of genuine animal bones from tarsiers to huge whales and dinosaurs. Entrance fee – 80 php.



Finally, it’s time to wrap up our vacation and head back to the hotel to prepare for our afternoon flight back to Manila. On the way, we dropped by at Mahjid’s Kebab to grab some quick lunch.



Five days in Davao may have been long but it was not enough to cover all the beautiful tourist spots in the city. We weren’t able to go to other tourist spots like the Japanese tunnel and Eden Nature resort. However, we can always go back. We would also like to thank the locals who were so friendly and helpful especially when we were asking for directions. Indeed Davao and the Davaoeños held up to its name and is truly a precious jewel of the south.


To summarize our trip, Milot created a short video compilation of our adventure in Davao.

 Bagobo House Hotel Davao
Location: Gov. Duterte Street, Davao City, Philippines
Contact Nos: (082) 222-4444
Email: info@davaobagobohousehotel.com
Website: http://www.davaobagobohousehotel.com


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  1. I loved Samal Island, especially the bat caves and Hagimit Falls!


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