|In Davao City, the letter "d" stands for durian.|
If black ants are marching in a long, busy line in your cottage in Davao City, consider it a propitious sign. It means the fruits you bought, be they rambutan, mangosteen or that stinky bomb called durian, are sweet.
With its land area of more than 2,000 square kilometers, it may be easy to get lost in the city or literally be taken for a ride by aggressive private van drivers who ply the visitors freshly off the plane with roomy vehicles that can facilitate a city tour. These same drivers claim that taxis are disallowed from the arrival premises, and this practice doesn't give a good first impression of the city touted as the most honest.
It's best not to take their word for it and wait for a regular cab. The cabbie will frankly tell you that decades of draconian city leadership have made them fearful of taking advantage of tourists, let alone those from their own country. The information desk comes replete with glossy guides and maps to aid the first-timers who haven't had time scroll through food and travel blogs on recommended places.
Even the cabbie knows his city well enough to recommend what spots not to miss.
|Twilight view from Samal Island|
An island getaway has become possible to a democratic mass with many resorts to choose from-- from the high end to the lowbrow. The 15-minute ferry to and from Samal costs only P30 a person. Locals advise getting there early morning, spending the entire day sunning and swimming, even ziplining, then back to the city on the last 5 p.m. boat.
|Budbud with swirls of chocolate|
|Mixed media work of Charlie Frenal using durian skin and found at Museo Dabawenyo|
|Philippine eagle at rest|
red-plumed chattering lory and talking mynah. A bird show on weekends attracts groups of senior citizens and the more awed, less fearful children who have no compunction about volunteering to toss food in the air while a bird of prey swoops down to catch it or posing with a baby crocodile, its mouth taped shut by its keeper.
|Crocodile named Pangil as still as a statue|
|Nighttime view of Davao City from Jack's Ridge|
The city is a thriving, throbbing story of the big little town that could. Even gasoline is cheap so the commuter in a tricycle is charged only seven pesos. That ride would've cost P14 -15 in a small National Capital Region village. One leaves with a sense of "I can live here for good."--Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga
First published by Vera Files / Yahoo Philippines, Sept. 18, 2012.