Mindanao Series: Davao Short Trip Part I of II

Never in my dreams did I think I would be bound for Mindanao any time soon. Not only did I spontaneously take on this challenge, I had an idea that inspired me to experience the South even after the first time. For years, I was content to watch the horrors and conflicts in television between fellow Filipinos who had different ideals who are fighting to survive and the Philippine government troops who have sworn to protect this country. I never thought about the impact of these seemingly separate phenomena on me. After all, it was already there even before I was born. The fear had limited me to travel only up to the Visayas region. I believe that the fear will never go away and it is the courage that was borne out of that fear that has me start being a contribution as a blogger for the unity of my country, the Philippines, through travel.

Davao seemed so near to Manila at an hour and 45 minutes via Zestair. The wait to get in to Terminal 4, the old Manila Domestic Terminal, took longer as it apparently opens at 2 am. I excitedly booked a 4 am flight to Davao. Without sleep, the flight seemed like a blur and the next thing I knew, it was a long walk to get to the baggage claim area inside an international-grade Davao airport.

A bright yellow jeepney greeted us and fetched us at the airport. I was welcomed as family by people whom I’d just met. A rush of cool Davao breeze calmed me and I was glad, at 6 am in the morning, to be here and to finally begin another adventure. I was just so sure that it was not the Mindanao that I first imagined. 

I had a familiar feeling, it was like I was in Baguio near the mountains, only the temperature here in Davao was just right and the air was cleaner due to the smoking ban and greens all around you.

View of Davao from Jack's Ridge

This is just a very short 3D2N Trip and majority of the itinerary was spent on bringing the Landmark Forum to Davao. I was glad to be here and I wanted to bring the conversations about family, love, communication, passion, aliveness and peace of mind that we were having in Manila to Mindanao and all over the country.

We went with the new titas and titos we met to Yellow Fin for dinner. 

We had the Pampano, the Imbao (Halaan Soup) and the Squid (they call it no cost in Davao). 

For the adventurous, you may want to try the Bagaybay (Male Tuna Fish Egg Sacs). 

Wash it down with the Durian Coffee of Blugre after if ever.

They took me to Jack’s Ridge next and the night air was so relaxing and peaceful that I could just sit in one of those hanging-feet benches or roll in the grass of the amphitheater or marvel at the view by the restaurant for hours.

To end the night, we talked of pomelos, durians, language, the diaspora, education and peace and order in the car on our way to the palengke. 

Tita Joy had a few tips for me for the pomelos. She said that the best way to have it is to peel away the hard skin, wrap the remainder in a brown paper bag and let it sit for a few days. The soft pink skin will dry up, crack and your sweet ripe pomelo is ready to be consumed. Best eaten if you pick the seeds out and put the ready-to-eat pomelo halves in the fridge to be chilled. I brought home 5 kilos of Golden Pomelo (at 100 per kilo).

The palengke is just across the Chinatown arch. Yes, the Chinese are everywhere and so am I.

We spent a considerable amount of time eating fresh durians with our bare hands. It actually doesn’t smell that strong after all although I could only go for two rounds for the texture and the richness of the variety that we had. 

Good thing I had experts with me (one of the durians opened actually tasted better than the first one) and there were more than 5 of us to finish the whole fruit. Tita Joy’s tip on removing the smell of durian in your hands was to use the shell of the durian fruit. Place water in the white part and dip your hands there to clean. 

Imagine talking the night away, tasting the unfamiliar durian in one hand and having the comforts of the familiar Coke on the other, sharing tales of travel and love with locals you just met. Then it hits you - we connect through one simple thing and we fail to recognize it at times - we speak the same language.

This was how I spent my first day in Mindanao – with an adopted family who welcomed me with open arms and taught me lessons that I will take home with me. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.