Monday, October 10, 2011

Davao City – Part 1

It has been more than nine years since I left Davao City where I lived for two years and I was eager to see the changes that had happened since then. First thing that was different - we landed at the new international airport. It was the week of the Kadayawan Festival and there were costumed performers to greet the visitors; they were also serving Davao punch at the lobby. Nice welcome!

We initially stayed at the MTRC (Mindanao Training Resource Center) where my husband had booked a room for us; this is where he usually stays when in Davao City. It’s not exactly a hotel or even a hostel; it is a place where they hold conferences and they rent out rooms; it is inside the premises of the Davao Medical School. After a couple of days, we moved to the Blue Velvet Hotel; it’s downtown location was much more convenient since we were closer to the many Kadayawan activities going on. We were lucky to find a room (we walked in just after someone had checked out); hotels were usually fully booked at this time.

Abreeza Mall is a new addition; it is already operating even as part of the huge complex is still under construction. The NCCC Mall in Ma-a is another new shopping place. When I left Davao, SM City had just opened and from what I recall, it was quite small compared to other SM stores. The place has since been extended and they are building another one in a new location! Yes, indeed, Victoria Plaza Mall and Gaisano Mall now have a lot of competition.

I met up with a friend from UP Mindanao and she graciously took us on a tour of the campus. During my UP Min days, it was quite a challenge getting to the school due to the rocky and bumpy road which would be dusty during dry periods but would become like muddy streams when it rained. Now it was paved all the way! The drive leading up to the UP oblation is impressive (work is still on-going). Several sculptures by a local artist adorn the front lawn of the College of Science and Math building; more landscape work was being completed. The campus was developing nicely.

We went to Antonio’s Bar and Grill at SM City for lunch for my friends’ joint birthday celebration. All the dishes we ordered were delicious. The waiters came over to our table singing “happy birthday” and even gave each of the birthday celebrants a cup of ice cream decorated with a candle.

Wanting to go back to an old haunt, we went to the Matina Town Square (MTS) for dinner and some live music. The place is always packed with people; it was still quite early so we were lucky to get a table near the stage. The band that evening was playing oldies music, just right for me.

For a taste of Davao’s famous “sugba” (grill) and “kinilaw” (ceviche), we went to Colasa’s BBQ. The place is very simple and may look a bit run-down but it is always very busy. When customers can’t find seating, they usually order take-out.

Another thing I had been missing about Davao was durian. When durian was in season, we we used to go to the fruit stands along the highway in Tugbok. We would select several durian fruits, have them opened up  and, using our bare hands (after washing them of course) , we would feast on them right there at the fruit stand. Durian was paired with ice-cold Coke! It may sound strange but it works! So when my friend wanted to treat us out to lunch, I requested that we go to Tugbok instead. My daughter has always refused to eat durian; her main objection was the odor. (Note: Hotels do not allow durian and have signs posted).  So my friend selected a new durian variety that was almost odorless and my daughter agreed to try it. She actually liked it! 

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