Friday, December 11, 2015


Way back 2008 when one of my friends informed me that she'll visit Davao and other cities in Mindanao, I immediately reprimanded her that the place is full of terrorists and rebels. I told her that she might encounter accidents if she travel to Davao. I always thought that Davao, being a part of Mindanao is rebel infested and bombings is just a normal occurrence in the city.

This probably is what millions of people living in Luzon and Visayas think. 

Due to a career move, I "forced" myself to move to Davao last 2009. Again with all those silly thoughts about Davao being a dangerous place playing in my mind when I disembark the plane. However, after a few minutes, my perception about Davao changed drastically. 

Davao has one of the most honest cab drivers in the country. I took a cab from the airport to my dormitory accommodation and the driver used the shortest route (checked this out after a couple of weeks in Davao) and gave me my change up to the last centavos. The cab drivers are polite and accommodating and would even return bags, phones and other stuff that people leave in their cabs. I am not saying that all of the drivers are honest, most of them though, follow the law. 

Davao is a clean city. When I arrive in Davao, I was amazed how the city looks really clean. Water can be drink right out of the faucet, the air is clean, we have effective waste management. We rarely see people throw their trash on the streets. They are disciplined not to just throw their garbage everywhere. 

Davao is smoke free... and nobody is exempted. As a non-smoker, this place is heaven for me. I do not like the smell of cigarette smoke. I feel that my lungs tighten if I inhale cigarette smoke, and in this city, you will only see smokers in designated areas. In my experience, living in other cities in the country, you see people smoking inside the jeepneys, on the streets and almost everywhere. Here in Davao you will be arrested and fined if you smoke in everywhere aside from the designated areas. 

This list can go on and on, but the most important thing that I Love about Davao is its security. I have lived and visited other parts of the country and in those cities, it is normal to hear housemates and workmates talking about robbery, hold-up, mugging, snatching happening almost everywhere. I even get to see and experience a few pickpocket-ting, but here in Davao, one can use their gadgets inside the jeepney without being scared of these items getting snatched. The police responds really fast and thanks to the CCTV cameras scattered around the city, emergency and disaster response is really on time. And oh, did I already mention that we have a working 911 HOTLINE here?

#MyDuterteStory is not really about my experience with the Mayor. I have only met him twice and I was really starstruck. He is very accommodating and charismatic. However, I see Davao City as an extension of the honorable mayor. He is after all the father of this place. All the experiences that I have reflects the leadership quality of Mayor Digong. He is a man of action and not just talk. He always puts the welfare of his constituents as first priority. He makes sure that help is received on time, all the time. That's why his constituents love him very much. 

Although I am not born here, being here for six years made me love this city even more. I see myself stay and grow old in Davao. Same goes with other co-workers who have expressed their desire to live in this city. Davao City, truly, Life is Here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

EXPLORE: Super Surigao

For the past six years of staying here in Mindanao, traveling to Surigao has always been a dream and a steady item in my bucket list. Last November, I had the opportunity to explore this part of Mindanao and boy, it was one of the most amazing experience ever. 

You can go to Surigao by public transport if you have the time and the patience to travel by bus. There are a  lot of buses that travel from Davao to that area, though this could take you around 6 hours. However, there are also some tours that are offered for 2.5 to 3K per person. This include trips to Tinyu-an Falls, Enchanted River in Hinatuan and Britania Islands.

I was lucky to be able to travel with office mates that time, Instead of getting the tour, we opted to rent a van and stay with our employee who is from Bislig. The trip costs us around PHP 3,500.00 per day excluding the gasoline which actually made the trip more expensive, however, gas is cheaper in San Fran, one of the municipalities of Surigao and that's where we got the van full.

Now, going back to the story of the trip. We left Davao City around 8-9AM. We traveled all the way to Tagum and Compostella and it took us he entire afternoon to reach Bislig. Though this is probably because we often took wrong turns and end up a few kilometers away from our correct destination. 

After a meal in Tagum, we were shown the beautiful landscapes of Compostella From the colorful farmlands to the lush mountains, the trip offered a visual treat to my tired eyes. We also passed by a few silent towns (most of them memorable to Kendra, one of our employees who frequent these places), some mansions along the roads, a few beasts of burden that are still on their shifts. The most unforgettable part of the trip is the literal "long and winding road"  and as the concrete roads zigzagged, I also have my own fight with nausea. 

After a few stops and a few times asking for directions, we finally hit our first destination- Tinuy-an Falls. Dubbed as the Philippines own "Niagara Falls", Tinuy-an is a magnificent waterfalls.Though we havent really appreciate its beauty, since we arrived after dusk, the waterfalls is really beautiful even in the dark. It is located inside a resort where they collect an entrance fee (PHP 50.00). There are also some cottages that are for rent around the area. But the most wonderful thing is probably riding a raft for PHP 150.00 and let the guides take you near the falls. You can really feel the strength of the pressure as the water massages your back. The waterfalls has this almost mystical charm that attracted my senses (probably this is other than the elementals that frequent the area, but this is another story).

After we went to Tinuy-an, we stopped in this small inasal restaurant near the public market. The food there was really affordable and delicious and you get to pick the meat that you want to eat. After dinner, we went to Michael's house for the night.

Day 2:
It was early morning when the group decided to go to the market and buy food for the 2nd day. We went to Michael's farm and get to meet his dad who works there. They have a lot of coconuts which Mike's brother, Arjay graciously climbed to get. The farm also has a crab pond where they grow these delicious crabs. The farm was kinda far from the main road, that's why after so many years of not being able to walk barefooted on mud, I removed my slippers and I just walked. It was scary (because mainly of the thought of having leeches, snakes, etc.), but the trip was worth it, muddy feet or not. 

We left Mike's house and went straight to Hinatuan where we get to see the Enchanted River. This area is also very mystical. We arrived in the area and I quickly looked around. The Enchanted River is a very mysterious place because a.) They still have not reached the bottom of this river. b.) How the fishes would react to the sound of the bell during fish feeding (too bad that I haven't seen this). I was really very hesitant to just jump on the water, like most of them, I secured a live vest since I felt that I am being sucked in by the hole.  After almost two hours of wading through the iver, we headed out to the last destination on the list, Britannia Islands.

.Britannia is a group of islands which are accessible via pump boats. You need to rent these boats to sail and dock to these islands (PHP 1000-1500). Since we have arrived late, we only visited two of these islands. The night was fast approaching and I know that it has become more difficult to navigate the waters around this place. After we toured the white sand beaches of Britannia, it was time to head home.

We went back to Bislig and stayed in Mike's house for a few hours to rest. We left Bislig City around 12 MN and we arrived in Davao around 4AM, That was a fun trip that you would really enjoy with friends. Will I try to do it again? Of course I will. As long as it is with friends, then I am ready to travel and explore the country.

Dont be a stranger to your own country. Travel and Explore.