by Pam Quinones
My second hometown has been in the spotlight lately, and for good reason. If you’ve been in the Philippines for any of the last few months, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about Davao, the hometown of our incoming-president. Many things have been said about Davao — it’s incredibly safe, there are strict speed limits and curfews and no smoking signs everywhere.
And while the increased focus on Davao is nice, I’d like to take this chance to reveal that there’s a lot more to my second hometown than what the news is reporting.
In fact, Davao, as the largest city in the Philippines by geographic size, is home to an incredibly diverse culture. Apart from the historical sites and natural resources, I’d like to show you a different side of Davao, one that I personally enjoy when I come over to spend time with my family.
My friends always ask me for recommendations whenever they go too, so here goes!
Whenever I want to just relax, Samal Island is a default. I go to Pearl Farm for the ultimate relaxation. It is 45 minutes from the city via regular boat and around 5-10 minutes via speedboat.
For the more rustic and laid-back option, there’s the a coastal town of Mati. Boasting of white sand and barreling waves, it has become a well-known spot for surfers.
Food + Drink
Of course my family prepares the best food that never fails to warm my heart. But apart from that, there’s an abundance of food choices in Davao, from old colonial homes to hole-in-the-wall style nooks.
My personal favorite, the White House, is an old colonial home turned into a restaurant. Another great choice — Claude’s — is a french restaurant nestled in another old house.
For those who love a good paella (soo good!), take a trip to Belito’s. A former garage turned restaurant, Belito’s is the epitome of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Finally, if you’re up for some art while having your meal, Bon Appetit is a quaint French bistro that displays a selection of art from a French national artist (the owner’s Father).
For those who would like a nightcap, just below Claude’s is Huckleberry, a special gin bar that fuses local produce such as mangosteen and rambutan to create unique concoctions. Pretty satisfying too!
Go Up the Mountains
Saddleback Haven, nestled in the mountains offers a peek of Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the country. The place used to be a private rest house that has since been converted into a well-manicured resort open to the public. Explore nearby mountains on horseback, or simply take a leisurely stroll through the gardens.
A panoramic view of Davao from Jack’s Ridge
A hilltop that overlooks the city, Jack’s Ridge is the perfect spot from where to admire Davao. Sip on some durian coffee during sunset and enjoy the cooler breeze from this idyllic location.
See the Wildlife
Mindanao is home to numerous wildlife, and Davao is no exception. At the Philippine Eagle Center, you can meet up to 30 Philippine Eagles inside a simulated forest environment.
To continue with the wildlife theme, the Crocodile Park is home to Philippine Crocodiles and serves as a breeding center while also providing shows and other educational activities.
The Best Spa
I think we’ve got everything covered. But before heading back, have a massage. The best one is at Lazuli Spa in Marco Polo Hotel.