(Travel Diary) Davao on a Whim

Another travel post! I don’t plan on turning this site into a travel blog but since it is what has been consuming my life lately, here’s another travel post. Last October 19-21, 2012, I was in Davao City to attend the 23rd annual convention of the Philippine Society for Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology. It’s very memorable because aside from the fact that it was my first time in Davao, it’s also my first official travel outside of Luzon. I handle big R&D projects but since most of them are based on Metro Manila and nearby provinces, I rarely get a chance to be on official business outside of Luzon. So when the opportunity came to go to Davao, I immediately grabbed it. I was blessed enough to come with my boss and my two officemates, Io and Ate Pearl, so the whole trip was  not so lonesome.

Another satisfying achievement to add on my list.

Day 1

 The convention proper was scheduled after lunch so we just took an early morning flight to Davao. We encountered several “interesting people” on NAIA terminal 2 as well as on the plane. The list includes Pop Fernandez, Rico Blaco, Jay of Kamikaze and I think half of the Philippine rock bands (but I hardly knew them). From the airport, we immediately proceeded to Villa Margarita Hotel to check-in. We then went to Davao Medical School Foundation, the venue of the conference.

There were three talks scheduled on the first day.  The theme of the convention was “From Inception to Prescription: A Short Course on Drug Development” so the topics ranged from structure elucidation, computer assisted design, and pretty much everything that is related to the long process of drug development.

My officemates Io and Ate Pearl with Balik Scientist Prof. Nilda Munoz

During nighttime, the society prepared a fellowship dinner. The event was held at Kai’s Bar and Grill, one of the restaurants in Jack’s Ridge. The area offered a outstanding view of the Davao skyline. After dinner, there were some games and it was so fun watching some of the prominent scientists and doctors play Pinoy Henyo and dance to Psy’s Gangam Style.

Davao sea of lights.

After the games, our boss and some of our consultants opted to have a round of drinks while Ate Pearl, Io and I toured around Jack’s Ridge. It was almost 10:30 already when we got back to out hotel so we called it a night.

Day 2

The very pretty dining hall of Villa Margarita Hotel.

Our Day 2 in Davao was mostly spent attending the lecture. There were about 10 lectures for the day so the convention ended at about 6 PM already. In the afternoon, Io’s uncle fetched us from DMSF and we had dinner with his family. Unexpectedly, the dinner turned to be a concert for cause by the PREX community where Io’s uncle belonged to.  It was such an interesting experience participating in a worship event with people I barely know but it was very fulfilling.

When we got back to the hotel, it was almost 9  PM already but we did not sleep until around 12 mn. Io, Pearl, and I talked a lot about our life, our jobs and our plans, something we rarely do everyday. So Davao was a welcome experience as it gave us both a chance to learn and relax. Additionally it made me realize (or realize again) the following:

1. We may have a desk job most of the time but our work translates far from the papers we write, from the R&D evaluations we made, etc. The R&D cycle is so big that a day idling can affect a lot of people working for a project and the end-users waiting for the benefits of the project. We are in a game where everyone should be proactive because if not the S&T in this country will really remain stagnant.

2. Scientists and doctors are very busy people and I still find it hard to comprehend how they juggle their schedule. But at the end the day, regardless of whatever they have achieved, they are still people who enjoy good food, dancing and relaxing. I occasionally ask, “what should I do to be like them?” or “Do I really want to be like them?”. I still do not know the answer but one thing is for sure, I’d like to have the happy look in their faces when they talk about doing the things they love and doing it for the benefit of the people.

3. There a lot of stories behind a person’s physical existence. There is a lot to learn, a lot of stories to tell. One must always keep in mind every person is different. Every person has his definition of what comfortable means. Once we are able to recognize this, we can actually gain a lot from what each one of us has experienced in life.

With those learning in mind, I contentedly concluded my Day 2 Davao and looked forward to our free day.

Day 3

On our last day in Davao, we visited some of the sites int the city proper. Our first stop was the Long Hwa Temple located at Cabaguio Avenue.

The proud temple.

The security guard was kind to tour us around. We were welcomed by several interesting sculptures and rooms.

Io and the super interesting circular structure.

Majestic Shiva.

From the temple, we proceeded to San Pedro Cathedral. Unfortunately, a mass was being held when we arrived so we didn’t have the change to view the altar up close. The Magsaysay Park, Davao City Hall and the Rizal Park was just across the church so we also walked around the area. Sadly, I wasn’t very impressed.

For God. For the Country.

It was almost 11 am by the time we were done touring the area so we proceeded to Ah Fat Seafood Plaza, a chain of restaurants famous for the seafood dishes. We only ordered small servings of baked prawns with cheese, sauteed scallop, and beef with ripe mango but we were surprised at how the big the serving was:

Superb scallops.

After lunch, we dropped by Abreeza to buy pasalubong. We then checked out and stayed in the house of Io’s uncle until our around 4 PM. At around 6:30,we boarded the plane back to Manila, leaving a place I hardly knew when I arrived, and still hardly know when I left.


I wasn’t impressed by Davao city proper as much as Cebu City impressed me. But I was not in Davao not for travel but for work so hopefully my opinion about the city will still change I get back for vacation on December. Nonetheless, this trip will remain poignant because it made me realize and appreciate more what I do for a living. When I travel, I often learn about myself and the places I visit. I also end up asking myself whether it’s worth  doing an 8 to 5 job. Surprisingly, it is also through a travel that I learned the answer to my questions. And it is an astounding YES. It is worth it.

This will always remind me that there is beauty in every ugliness .


13 thoughts on “(Travel Diary) Davao on a Whim

  1. I’ve never been there, but based on stories from natives, Davao is less like Cebu and more like Dumaguete. And the traveler might not experience all the riches of the place at once, but it’s mostly because of the priorities for each stage of travel.

    I was like that, too, with Laoag. At first, I thought that Laoag was old and way set back, because I arrived in the morning and most shops were not open yet. I did stay for a time in the afternoon, but I still held the idea all throughout the day of Laoag being an un-progressive city.

    These impressions were completely reversed the second time I was in the city.

    I also felt the same with Daet, Legaspi, Sorsogon, and Dagupan. Of these four cities, it’s only Sorsogon which has not yet changed my perspective of it.

    It’s very common to feel unimpressed with a place that you’ve visited for a first time, but it doesn’t mean you should like it, nor that you will not ever like it. Cities and people change. Cities have their delights and pitfalls, and people have their preferences. Ok lang yan. 😀

    • Thank you sir for highlighting the importance of recognizing difference among people’s opinion. Two people might be looking for different things even if they have the same destination, right? 🙂 For instance while you didn’t like Laoag on your first it, I liked it from the get go. 🙂

      • True. I will add that travel is like photography.

        May mga lugar na maganda sa certain na oras at angulo, at may gustong iparating ang photographer sa pamamagitan ng pagkuha sa angulo at oras na iyon.

        Travel photography… ibang usapan yun. Hehe 😀

  2. i’ve been to Davao City, and as you said you are not impressed on how its City proper looks like, well for me, its the exact opposite… hehehe! If i were to guess on why your not impress, it would be as simple as “No High Rise Buildings in it or historical landmarks” am i right?.. well if not then. ok!.. lolz! but then, again as a traveler myself, all i can say is, Davao City is one heck of a place. It may not have those High Rise buildings or rich in historical structures, but the fact that the City itself being clean and the assurance of being secured is enough for me to pick this City among those Highly Urbanized Cities like Manila and Cebu.

    Davao is so unique in a way that it harmonized the Urban and Rural kind of Living, making it a worthy of including in top 10 of the Worlds most Livable and Safest Cities, that even Manila and Cebu couldn’t achieved and the fact that its 2x larger than all metro manila cities combined and 6x larger than Cebu, yet its LGU could still implement such feat of governance. 🙂 I even walked the city proper at 2:30AM to my Hotel to experience how safe it feels like. lolz! How i wished that all the Cities in the Philippines will adopt how the system of governance of Davao City works. 🙂 kudos to the Dabawenyos and its LGU.

    And as far as i know, Davao City could primarily boast of its diversed culture, its not the historical structures or tallest Buildings but the people who lives in it and specially its nature from highlands to islands is so abundant (no doubt about this, and wished to come back to conquer Mt Apo, lolz!). Btw, ty for some interesting posts which lead me here to your humble abode, including this post about Davao that caught my attention and sorry if i kinda disagree with your post… hahaha! Its just so different from the one that i’ve experienced.

    • Thanks for visiting my site and for the lengthy yet insightful comment. As I’ve said, my first time in Davao City was a whim so I did not have the full opportunity to savor what it has to offer. However, as I also said in this post, I went back there last December for a proper vacation and I learned to love the place on my 2nd visit. In fact, I dedicated three posts for that visit. 🙂

  3. there isn’t much to be impressed in the city proper as compared to the other older cities in manila and cebu. davao is young and still a work in progress. and being in mindanao is also a disadvantage because of bad media reputation. but despite not having a decent skyline of tall buildings, davao keeps cleanliness of its streets, people are vigilant and has low tolerance to crime, police are no-non sense and dedicated to their job, smoking is strictly regulated, emergency response is quick and free of charge, tap water is potable, fruits and vegetables are cheap. it’s more like a city that values the life of its people more (at least the peace loving ones). i’d compare davao to other philippine cities which are more livable like marikina, bacolod, puerto princesa. hope you can visit the nature parks and the beaches when you come back 🙂

  4. This post caught my attention because, I’m from Davao (I arrived Oct. 20 for sembreak, BTW :D). I do understand why you weren’t impressed with Davao because there were still a lot of places here that you weren’t able to go to because just like what you said, the purpose of your travel was for work so you didn’t have enough time to explore. 🙂 I suggest when you go back here for a vacation, go to Samal Island (it’s famous for its white sand beaches, bat cave etc) and Pearl Farm, Eden Nature Park, Malagos Garden resort, People’s park. You can also go climb Mt. Apo (I haven’t tried this one), try the zipline (it’s cool!), eat at Penong’s (but no views, lol. Jack’s ridge does have a nice view of the city), etc.

    I hope when you return here for vacation, it would be more fulfilling. 🙂

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