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return to davao
The author as a child in Times Beach, Davao City
TEN YEARS AFTER MOVING TO MANILA, TRUE BLUE DABAWENYA MAE L CHATTO RETURNS TO DAVAO TO REKINDLE HER CONNECTION WITH HER HOMELAND. PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOJIE ALCANTARA
was born, raised and educated in Davao, a fact I wear like a badge of honor. Everything about my hometown makes me proud — the people, the natural bounty, the fresh produce and fruit that grow here abundantly 365 days a year, and the typhoon-free climate. So it was quite ironic that I actually left this nirvana to live in chaotic Manila, limiting my connection to Davao to visits at Christmastime. During my most recent sojourn back, the desire to reacquaint myself with my roots nipped at my heels like an eager little puppy. Feeling like a prodigal daughter who had been gone too long, I set out on a four-day journey home. I was pleasantly surprised to discover things about Davao that I wouldn’t have appreciated had I not left. And just like the father in the biblical story, Davao welcomed me back with open arms.
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San Pedro Cathedral is the biggest church in Davao
1pm, Church visits Every journey begins with a single step, and thanks to the many religious sites in Davao, a prayer. Simply called “Shrine” by the Dabawenyos, the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague Shrine in Matina Hills is a popular pilgrimage site for devotees of the Sto Niño. As a child, my parents often brought my siblings and I here to hear mass on special occasions or when we needed divine favors. On this particular visit, the shrine teems with people, despite it being a work day. I light three candles, and amidst a sea of flickering candles and the murmur of petitions and prayers, I close my eyes. At the Holy Spirit Adoration Convent, you will find the cloistered nuns in their bright pink habits keeping watch over the Blessed Sacrament. The convent, also known as Pink Sisters in Catalunan Grande, is open to the public for those who need a moment of peace and spiritual refreshment. Next on my list is the San Pedro Cathedral which is bordered by Bolton,
Get centered at the oly Infant Jesus of Prague Shrine
A bunch of kids splash in the waters of the old Sta Ana Wharf. coeds take elevators to get to air-conditioned classrooms. Private rest homes converted into charming resorts now dot the white coastline of Samal Island. and houses antique images of the saints. the cascading falls are mesmerizing. But now. But I opt to ride a motorbike to get there. windandwavedavao. the cathedral is named after the city’s patron saint and survived bombings that claimed lives in 1981 and 1993.return to davao Kayak around Maxima Aquafun My alma mater sure makes me proud! San Pedro and CM Recto streets. The high points? Strolling above the treetops on a 130mlong canopy walk 35ft above the ground and then whooshing down a 47m-long giant slide that drops you into the sea. The small cafeteria is now a vast food court. a pioneer educator in Davao City and former president of the University. www. Although the boulders are marked by vandals. Today. tel: +63 (82) 221 9970 to 73. ranked fifth among the country’s top 20 universities in 2009. Dayang Beach Resort. you’ll find the Crocodile Park. The old altar has been preserved at the right wing of the Cathedral. Roxas and Jacinto streets. the Ateneo de Davao University on the corner of CM Recto. stands mighty as the oldest church of Davao City. The latter is a marine playground designed for the rough and tough. I contemplate the idea that I may APRIL 2010 71 . Later. Sail to the islands With my friends and brother in tow. Pearl Farm Beach Resort offers world-class pampering with cottages perched on stilts above the water. aquafun. As I explore the rich underwater flora and fauna.30am.psdgroupph.com) speedboat to explore the aquamarine seas and beach resorts in nearby Island Garden City of Samal. bringing eggs for the nuns.com 12pm. Island Garden City of Samal. a visit to Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort was the ultimate treat. according to the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED). New buildings are on the rise. I board the Wind and Wave Davao (www.that didn’t deter me from strapping on a snorkel mask and jumping into the clear waters like i used to as a teenager 10. my alma mater. Back to school Founded in 1948. Then I head over to the Carmelite Monastery Chapel along Bajada Street which my mother visited weekly. one in memory of the Jesuit priest Fr Paul Finster. SJ. tel: +63 (82) 282 2339. The wonders of water We could have hiked to the enchanting Haguimit Falls. tourists have more options.pearlfarmresort. Built in 1847 by Don Jose Uyanguren during the Spanish period. storm clouds appear from nowhere as we make our way to our final destination.com The giant slide at Maxima Aqua Fun and jumping into the crystal clear waters the way I did as a teenager. the equally picturesque Malipano Island has seven private resthouses for rent. in exchange for their prayers. where the boats and vessels en route to nearby provinces via Davao Gulf are docked. Kaputian. 4pm. reaching out for alms. We throw them some coins 70 APRIL 2010 before speeding off to the island. As a child.. Peñaplata.. Natural high Tucked in the Peñaplata side of Samal Island. Barangay Cawag. just a stone’s throw away from Maxima. Riverwalk Grill and Maxima Aquafun “Home of the Abyss”. Wind and Wave operates dive shops in both resorts. A sister property. I met these kids en route to Talicud Island The plush Pearl Farm Resort . The calm waters of Haguimit Falls day 2 9am. It was already raining pellets when we reached the shore but that didn’t deter me from strapping on a snorkel mask. Island Garden City of Samal.
3pm. Tel: +63 (82) 271 2626 / 221 9643. kare-kare (meat with vegetables in peanut sauce) and a whole croc paw stew — you name it.com 12pm. you can take your pick from traditional dishes such as the Bicol Express with seafood — a winner. tel: +63 (921) 307 0367 4pm. Perched on top of a 20ft hill.return to davao Loved the ATV ride! Tread clear blue waters Try the crocodile sisig! I took a bite of crocodile meat. Rock around the croc! I had heard about the Crocodile . Welcome to café exotica For those with adventurous palettes. of course. Dadatan. But boy. Enjoy the ride I towel off and hop onto an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and try to maneuver it along the shore. Samal. day 3 10am. butterflies! The Butterfly House shows the metamorphosis of the pretty winged insect in all four stages — egg. For less daring customers. Succulent and tasty. and i swear it tastes like pork. the place has a nursery of caterpillars placed inside small cages. I took a bite and swear it tasted like pork. The Zorb Park near the Crocodile Park complex lets you do this.30pm. and after I cancelled out images of a ferocious crocodile in my head. Park in Riverfront Corporate City a long time ago. through public viewing and educational shows. pupa and adult. We were just as amused as the preschool kids who were there for a field trip. I was wrong! Aside from exotic species of birds and animals. Riverwalk. after which you are rolled down the hill.com 1. caldereta (tomato-based stew). you dive into a giant plastic ball called a zorb. the park teems with crocodiles housed inside cages.psdgroupph. But practice makes perfect. www. I happily zip along the shore with the wind in my face and the engine purring wildly as I squeal in glee. it melts in your mouth. The park showcases a state-of-the-art crocodile farming system designed to preserve these creatures as well as other wildlife. as the sand shifts under my tires and my ATV veers towards the water. Tel: +63 (82) 271 2626 / 301 5465. it just melts in your mouth. they most probably have it! I ordered the sisig. steak. we call it a day and head back to the mainland. larva. Aside from the garden where butterflies mate and fly free. the Riverwalk Grill inside the Park serves exotic food such as crocodile prepared in different ways: as sisig (grilled/fried chopped meat with onions and seasoning).davaocrocodilepark. But I never went there — I imagined it would be a disappointing sight with probably just one live crocodile co-existing with fake animals. Shortly after. The restaurant also serves ostrich. It’s just a half a minute ride but APRIL 2010 73 indeed have been a fish in a past life. They also educate people about them. This is not an easy task. Talicud Island. Hello. Have a ball! Do you remember an episode on Amazing Race Season 5 in which contestants rolled down a hill inside a giant plastic ball in New Zealand? Now you needn’t endure a 12-hour flight to enjoy this crazy sport. The caretaker lets us hold the bigger ones which look like gummy worms. succulent and tasty. so I ordered a steak that had a beefy goodness. and after struggling to control the beast.
com . Diversion Road. which is creamy like a hot cappuccino.20pm. you’ll hardly notice as the design organically blends the manufactured with the natural environment. cakes. n Score local souvenirs at Aldevinco Cebu Pacific flies to Davao from Manila ___ times weekly. Durian coffee. tel: +63 (82) 221 7749 /271 2626. My knees go weak upon learning that the 310m-long zip line hangs 150m above sea level. so if you’re in the mood to commune with Mother Nature. lush fields of exotic and tropical plants and animals roaming in the wild. as well as the Gatchpuccino.return to davao Me doing the canopy walk! Try zorbing down a hill! MAYA CALICA that’s all you need to scream and laugh until your guts hurt. batik. Over 100 shops sell antiques. the locals have pushed the envelope. The 360˚ view of Davao City and Davao Gulf from the top takes my breath away.com 6pm. an ice blend that combines durian pulp with the taste of coffee a brave face. tel: +63 (82) 221 4667 74 APRIL 2010 11am. Davao City. The coffees have been named after the owners Larce and Gatchi Gatchalian and they each taste heavenly (and by the way. I put on Have durian in your coffee! I order the Larcepuccino. I order the Larcepuccino. Diversion Road. anyone? Dabawenyos either love or hate durian. Toril. polvoron (from the seeds) and even durian blended coffee. this is coming from someone who doesn’t like durian!). a camping site and organic vegetable and herb gardens which supply local supermarkets as well as Eden Nature Park’s own restaurant. Davao City. tel: +63 (82) 299 1020 / 296 0791. Barangay Langub. At Blugre Café. I belong to the latter group. www. The park has a real forest trail. jams. Don’t be afraid to haggle! CM Recto corner Roxas Streets.cebupacificair. The result: an experience that lets you breathe in the cool crisp mountain air and take in forests of pine and fruitbearing trees.ph 5pm. and then hold on to the rope for dear life. But since Davao is durian country. Zip it good! With my energy levels still buzzing. edennaturepark. A buffet lunch of freshly made dishes is included in the day tour package. Davao in your pocket No Davao visit is complete without dropping by Aldevinco Shopping day 4 Welcome to durian country! Center. zipcity. you’ll love Eden Nature Park in Toril.psdgroupph. These stores accept most foreign currency as most of them double as moneychangers. Riverfront Corporate City. 4. Davao City. creating all manner of treats made with the traditionally smelly fruit — candies. we head out to Zip City. Landco Bldg. Barangay Eden. as the fruit’s strong smell and taste put me off. pies. Although 95% of this 80-hectare mountain resort is manmade. Bajada Street. Return to Eden Davao is filled with natural treasures. an ice blended concoction that combines the rich flavor of the durian pulp with the bittersweet taste of coffee. tel: +63 (82) 271 2626 / 286 1055. allow the staff to strap me in. Davao City. fresh water pearls and authentic Davao and Mindanao souvenir items.com.
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