Jul 26 - Sep 28, 2013
Location: Davao City, Philippines
Davao deja Vu
When I left Davao January this year, I felt defeated. I had no intention of coming back. But life, as always, threw a curve ball that got me aborting my scheduled stint in Siargao to be back in Davao. But it's a different Davao this time. That's something I like about a place - it's never the same way twice.
Having spent the last 3 months in the Surigao region (from Hinatuan to Surigao City) where I did mostly beach bumming, cave exploration, scuba diving, free-diving and island hopping, I was just glad to be back in the concrete jungle where I can roam a mall and watch a movie and gorge on durian. That's essentially my mindframe when I arrived Davao.
If not for Sonny Dizon's adventure invites, I'd just be cocooning in my hotel room catching up on my web work and National Geographic. He took me white water rafting, ziplining, and super sliding in his resort-playgrounds. He looks the part in a power suit inside the boardroom, but don't be surprised to see him in a loin cloth swinging from tree to tree. Sonny is akin to Durian - an acquired taste. Love him or hate him. You can't stay in the middle.
I've known and met some amazing people in Davao. My aunts for one (Tita Neneng and Tita Lucy). Had I opened myself up to them early on, I probably wouldn't have this cynicism about family. Jackie Dizon (Sonny's wife) is endearing as she is lovely. Pinky grows on you. The more I see her, the more I like her. Joanna was a pleasant surprise. We could talk for hours. Olive Puentespina, the cheese artisan, was such a rare find. I still want to pick her brains and talk cheese. Mel Pangan, my hotelier hostess, was generous and engaging. We braved Bankerohan's painitan and fruit stalls to develop Davao's first food tour. Jude and Roel are a fun dynamic duo.
But one person takes the cake, and he's not even from Davao. Jay, a Hong Kong national I had passing conversations with, is a young lanky studious-looking geek...until he told me that he came to the Philippines with 100 condoms and after just a few weeks, he was down to 30! He got my attention since then. I couldn't wait to hear the words coming out of his mouth as he dispensed his secrets. He was the oracle and his words were gospel. Porfirio Rubirosa, eat your heart out!
I'd been by myself for nearly the last 3 months except for the looming friendships I abruptly left in Surigao (Zati comes to mind - she is a good friend. I miss her). By the time I arrived Davao, I was already a lonesome lonerider. I needed social interaction. I joined a few groups - Davao Bloggers, TechTalk Group, Online Dating - nothing came out of it despite the promising initial meet ups.
I even asked some people I thought I had a comfort-level with, to introduce me to someone in their circle who might likewise be in-search-of (but not married, not seeing anyone, unattached!). I thought it was a normal request. And this is what baffles me. I got dead-air as if somebody died. Now I'm not sure if I crossed a cultural taboo. Have I been doing things too long on my own that I no longer know the trending social conventions? How far removed am I now from the norm? It's one thing to be able to do things on your own completely unshackled by any social constraint, but not to a point you're too far off the grid. I'm still dumbfounded as of this wrting. And I've never made any such request from anyone again. What am I missing here?
Someone suggested Online Dating. I used to think this was an act of desperation. But Martha Stewart guested on Dave Letterman and publicly proclaimed she joined an online dating site because her immediate social circle is not big enough to find what she's looking for in a partner. This seems to be very true for everyone else. Even though online dating is widely practised, it's seldom put out for public scrutiny. Hmmm, curious, I gave it a shot. I even went out once. We talked, and after buying dinner, she told me she'd sleep with me - with no talk of money. Just like that? I was a little shocked. To sum it up, I got the feeling the low-income Filipina is driven to a point of "kapit sa patalim" - metaphor for biting the bullet. With no economic prospect, frustration over a cheating Filipino culture, or desperation as a single mother, they almost indiscriminately go for what's online using their femininity as capital, unsure of any kind of reciprocity. Of course that kind of predicament comes with many shades of con - caveat emptor.
It was timely that I happen to be in Davao during the durian season. Durian can go as high as P120/kilo if out of season. Now, I've seen it go down to P20/kilo, but usually, a pushcart durian vendor selling durian at that price has a rigged weighing scale. It's public knowledge. I wonder how that blatant cheating can proliferate in a Duterte-enforced city. Durian is something you take in small doses or risk a high blood attach. And people die from it - ask any durian eater and he/she's bound to have a death by durian anecdote to tell you. But I can't help it. Given my addiction to it and its low price, I've developed a kilo-a-day habit. I just workout intensely to offset the high-blood effect.
I had a chance to teach yoga again at Holiday Gym. It was great to get back in the practice and be a part of a community again. I miss that. Despite the compensation for teaching, I stubbornly refused to accept payment claiming money doesn't change hands with my yoga. But it left me with a conflicted feeling - of equal arrogance (for refusing payment when it's rightfully deserved) and a self-gratifying stubbornness about my 'set ways'. Mimsy, my longtime friend lectured me on sacred commerce and money being energy that's neither good nor bad. Uncanny, but Mimsy seems to pop-up from out of nowhere in my times of uncertainty. This has happened many times in the past. I think I'll feel better next time if I accept the money.
My social enterprise, a fee-based travel portal on the internet, remains my source of livelihood where businesses can have their exclusive search-engine-optimized webpage for a global audience. It's what puts a roof over my head and food in my tummy - even if my terms are barter-based (or cash from time to time). Putting it plainly, it's my survival kit. Increasingly though, specially if my meager needs are already met, I'm using it not just to keep me afloat, but use it for currency in many ways - to say 'Thank You', to reinforce friendship, to validate an advocacy, to say 'I love you', or to even pay it forward. There's really nothing else I can use for that purpose - I have neither money, property nor clout (and I like it that way!). So now, with this re-purposing, this same social enterprise now becomes my Swiss Army Knife in building bridges and reinforcing relationships. Neat!
Wanna be my Date?
As I was chatting on FB with Bianca, a dear friend from Subic, she told me, "I'll be going to Tagum to attend a wedding. Wanna be my date?" My simple answer was, "Sure, I'd love to." That brief exchange changed everything for me in Davao. The die was cast for Tagum. It was the proverbial path that was just blazed for me by my benevolent universe (Bianca was simply part of the karmic process to make it happen, according to my spacey world-view). Like a dutiful soldier, I started tying up loose ends - concluded my yoga classes at Holiday Gym, stopped pursuing hotel deals to prolong my stay, etc.
I liken my plight to that of a seed. It does not choose its destination and instead, allows the bigger forces at play to take it where it takes it. It's light enough to be flown away by the wind, taken to wherever it lands, and there, it tries to grow roots. If the roots are not deep enough, the next strong wind blows it to another destination where the cycle repeats itself. For now, despite all the looming potential, my fledgling roots in Davao are not deep enough to anchor me. If I were seeing a Dabawenya whom I can play footsies with as we linger with our morning coffee, that would have been a different story.
Alone in Tagum
Due to a typhoon in Luzon, Bianca texted she's cancelling her trip. Hmmm. What to do? I still have to go to Tagum to meet the people who would see me...even if there's no more wedding to attend to, and worse, no place to stay for the night. Tagum has been written on the wall. While daunting, it's one of those rare opportunities for life to unravel itself. What exactly happens in Tagum? What awaits me there? Only one way to find out.
Candid About Davao
I love Davao .Given all the magical and wonderful places I've seen in the Philippines in my 9 years of traveling within the country, I will have to say Davao has it the most. It's big enough to allow diversity in an urban setting but without the excess. The mountains are nearby, you can walk it to the beach, fruits are abundant and cheap, cost of living is low, people are tolerant, the weather is virtually typhoon-free, and peace and order is unmatched in the Philippines.
Despite the small morsels it threw my way, Davao remains elusive. You can't rush Davao. It has its own rhythm and pace. It accepts change on its own terms and in its own sweet time. Davao has a distinct culture and Dabawenyos have a clear sense of identity. Davao is its own thing.
It has been a wonderful 2 months in Davao. With profound gratitude, I say farewell...for now.
ps - I know what you're thinking. Did he sleep with her? Ha-ha, you're too predictable. No. I just wanted conversation over dinner.
Davao City, Philippines
- Bahay ni Tuding - central Poblacion location, wifi, hands-on owner
160 San Pedro Street, 8000 Davao City
0947 361 3544 | 7°03'57.6"N 125°36'28.3"E
- The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites - central location, new management, newly renovated
Sta. Ana Avenue, Davao City 8000, Philippines
(+63) 932-8708621 | 906-3185885 | 7°04'34.2"N 125°36'54.2"E
- The Apo View Hotel - Davao's iconic hotel, old world charm, casino
150 J. Camus Street, Davao City Philippines 8000
+63 (82) 221-6430 to 40 | 7°04'09.2"N 125°36'27.4"E
- North Zen Basic Spaces - great rooms at affordable prices
Sobrecarey St. (corner Lapu-Lapu St.), Davao City, 8000
(082) 295.3997 | 7°04'43.0"N 125°37'04.3"E
- Urban Living Zen Hotel - newly opened - all NEW!
F.s. Dizon Bacaca, 8000 Davao City
(082) 287 3133 | 7°05'28.4"N 125°36'22.3"E
- The Royal Mandaya Hotel - heart of downtown Davao City
J. Palma Gil Street, Davao City, 8000
(+63 82) 225.8888 | 7°04'09.4"N 125°36'36.8"E
- Alu Hotel Davao - central downtown location
M. Roxas Avenue corner Padre Faura Street, Davao
+63 82 227 5232 | 7°04'07.7"N 125°36'51.7"E
- One Oasis Davao - hotel accommodation in a condo unit
Eco-west Drive, Ecoland, Davao City
firstname.lastname@example.org | 0925.500.3211 | 7°02'49.2"N 125°35'19.1"E
- Apollo Van Rental - Davao City tour, Samal Island tour, airport transfer
0925.500.3211 | email@example.com
yoga | health | fitness
- one of the cleanest potable water in the country
- smoking is banned from commercial establishments
- pineapple samurais are endemic here and nowhere else in the country (pineapple vendors who cut-up whole pineapples into chunks with just a few strokes of their carving knives)
- public utility drivers conspicuously display their IDs
- durian Mecca of the Philippines (not to mention Marang, Mangosteen and Sweet Pomelo)
- you want to add some more? please submit on the form below
- the weighing scale of fruit vendors specially the durian push cart vendors are a blatant cheat - showing almost twice the actual weight
- Revisiting Davao Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
- A Roof Over my Head in Davao Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
- Davao Yoga Scene Oct 31, 2016
- Pranayama Oct 24, 2016
- Yoga Beyond the Mat Oct 21, 2016
- Grilled Tuna Overload in Davao Oct 13, 2016
- Duterte Mania in Davao Oct 12, 2016
- Sirsasana, Sarvangasana - Yoga Makaranda II Oct 7, 2016
- Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Oct 5, 2016
- Ashtanga Yoga with James Fritz Freire at Holiday Gym and Spa Oct 1, 2016
- There was a Bomb Explosion? Sep 30, 2016
- Jin in Davao Sep 29, 2016
- Scrubs and Hilot at Holiday Gym and Spa Sep 22-29, 2016
- The Fabulous Dabawenyos Aug 22-Sep 26, 2016
- Nirvana Breathing Fitness with Lita C. Quisumbing Sep 21, 2016
- Massage, Sauna and Ear Candling at Holiday Spa and Gym Sep 17-19, 2016
- Downpour in Davao Sep 18, 2016
- Lounge One Yoga Sequence by May Bel Le at North Zen Hotel Sep 16, 2016
- Celebrating Davao's King of Fruits - Durian! Sep 11, 2016
- The Blast that Rocked Davao Sep 2, 2016
- Hatha Flow Yoga with Joanna Lizares Co at Holiday Spa and Gym Aug. 31, 2016
- Conducting a Power Yoga Class at Yoga Davao Aug 29, 2016
- Good Eats with Mel Pangan's Davao Food Tour Aug 26, 2016
- Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Aug 25, 2016
- A Gifted Dell Laptop from the Usual Suspect Aug. 24, 2016
- The Duterte Phenomenon Oct 21, 2015
- 20 Days in Davao City July 4- 24, 2014
- Goodbye Davao...Again! Sep 28, 2013
- Wine and Cheese at Malagos Farm House Sep 27, 2013
- Custom-made Peanut Butter at Davao City's Bankerohan Market Sep 27, 2013
- Yoga in Davao Sep 26, 2013
- Celebrating 25 Years of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Sep 18, 2013
- Clobbered in a Vicious Karate Match Sep 17, 2013
- Back Into the Black Sep 1, 2013
- No Reply Aug 30, 2013
- Full Body-Cavity Search without the Latex Aug 25, 2013
- Fun Day with Crocodile Sonny and Sports Unlimited Dynamic Duo, Dyan Castillejo and Marc Nelson Aug 15, 2013
- Fun! Fun! at Maxima AquaFun, Samal Island Aug 11, 2013
- Goodbye Davao Jan 22, 2013
- Davao City's Peace and Order Jan 21, 2013
- Holiday Spa Yoga, Davao City Jan 20, 2013
- Free Yoga at People's Park Jan 12, 2013
- Davao City: Family Ties Dec 15-22, 2012
- Breakup Diaries: Chance Encounter in Davao City Dec 19, 2012
- Davao City June 20-23, 2009
- Davao City March 18-20, 2008
- Mount Apo March 15-18, 2008
- Goodbye Apo Island Apr 23, 2017
- Daghang Salamat (Many Thanks) Camotes Islands, Goodbye Apr 6, 2017
- Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
- Goodbye Davao...Again! Sep 28, 2013
- Goodbye Surigao July 23, 2013
- Goodbye Cagayan de Oro Jan 31 - May 5, 2013
- Goodbye Davao Jan 23, 2013
- Goodbye Dumaguete Apr 25, 2012
- Goodbye Valencia Jul 31, 2011
- Goodbye Subic Jun 14, 2011
- Goodbye Manila Apr 11, 2010
- Goodbye Sagada Mar 4, 2009
- Goodbye University of the Philippines Mar 31, 2006
(Oct 20, 2013) We also read your post about Davao. We lived there kasi for 6 years and are familiar with most if not all of the stuff you mentioned. (hubby is also acquainted with Sonny Dizon) Too bad you weren't able to strike a deal with the local DOT, sorry to hear that. I was in the travel industry myself many years back when I was single, and saw the huge potential of Davao, especially in adventure and eco-tourism. At the time adventure racing was just gaining ground, and the city had sponsored a big race called Samal X-treme Challenge. It put Samal on the map of the racing circuit. I thought the local government was going to capitalize on it but many years have passed and we haven't heard of any such similar activity in the area. too bad.... Sonny does put in a significant amount of effort and resources at promoting tourism but without the local government's full support I doubt it can go very far.
I have to hand it to you for all the research, sleuthing, legwork and just the overall street-smarts you've done and acquired in this travel blogging job of yours. I used to travel for a living myself and I didn't have nor develop as much knack for the kind of info-gathering you do. Hats off! Keep up the great work!
(Sep 30, 2013) Holiday Gym is waiting for you! Haha
(Sep 30, 2013) holler when you find yourself back in our neck of the woods! ;-)
(Sep 30, 2013) Haha! You have to tell me about your online dating story. Where are you heading next?
Sep 28, 2013
»» next Traveling story: Tagum Unfolding
»» back to Traveling
»» back to Homepage