Friday, April 17, 2015

Visiting Davao with Air Asia to see the Philippine Eagle. And about Davao's great safety record as a city.

Everyone in #Travelife really does live a never-ending #Travelife.

Remi Ralte, daughter of the Ambassador of India, sent in a short piece she wrote on her very recent trip to Davao via Air Asia for #Travelife Magazine.

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"As a banyaga (foreigner) living in the Philippines I am slowly learning about its cultures, food, language, people, various provinces. And let’s not forget getting used to Manila traffic!

Speaking of provinces, I knew very little about Davao up until a few weekends ago when I went for a lovely but short weekend visit. I’m embarrassed to admit that the extent of my knowledge was that it produces the tastiest pomelos and that it's known as the durian capital of the Philippines  -- and you’re more than welcome to have my share of this tasty fruit!

Like many cities close to the sea, it also has fresh and delicious seafood.


I was among the first passengers to fly to Davao on board Air Asia’s inaugural direct flight to Davao and it’s certainly great knowing that I can return for another visit easily on any one of their three times daily direct flights.

I landed and was greeted by our tour guides Vera and Marlon from the Department of Tourism and after boarding the shuttle bus they eagerly started sharing trivia about this bright city.


My first impression as we made our way to our first stop, Eden Nature Park and Resort, was how green the city is compared to Manila.

Davao City is located on the south- eastern coast of Mindanao and has been very fortunate when it comes to natural disasters -- unlike its northern neighbors, typhoons rarely cause catastrophic aftermath, the mountains sprawled over the land help protect the city.

The iconic volcano of Davao, Mt. Apo, is also the highest mountain in the Philippines (9,692 ft). It last erupted in the mid-1970s, and it's now dormant and a major “must- climb” for trekking enthusiasts.


Eden Nature Park and Resort is a beautiful expanse of lush greenery. They have cabins available for two or up to 14 people.

I can definitely see myself returning here with my family to have a weekend retreat. 

It was indeed a breath of fresh air to drive through their various flower and vegetable gardens and it was even better knowing that all the greens and fruits served at meal times at Eden Park are picked fresh from these very gardens and greenhouses.

In the center of Eden Park there is a section dedicated to informing visitors about the indigenous people of the various tribes of Davao with replicas of huts and a cave depicting the story of the beginning of time according to their legends as well as a garden full of medicinal herbs.

Apart from driving in their tour cart or hiking (the catch being they only provide you with a map, no guide) visitors can participate in fun activities such as zip lining, horseback riding and aero cycling, I want to come back just to try cycling up in the air on a line and fulfill my circus fantasy! 


Our next stop was my favorite, and it was only day one!

I am a lover of animals and birds and it was such a treat for me to be able to visit the Philippine Eagle Centre.

To top it off, this non–profit center not only serves as a sanctuary for the national bird, but is also a research center to learn about these beautiful creatures among others such as the Philippine crocodile, the palm civet (which also happens to be part of the Philippine Eagle’s diet) and the brown deer. 


The Philippine Eagle is the biggest in the world by wingspan. 

It is currently on the endangered list and living in the center today are two generation eagles, Pag-asa and his daughter Mabuhay.


I was very interested to learn from our guides that Davao City is the fourth safest city in the world with low crime rates, quick emergency response teams and strict disciplinary actions for violators.

Over ten years ago, Davao's Mayor Duterte implemented a smoking ban making it the first smoke-free city in Asia. Public smoking areas are limited and heavy fines are issued to offenders.


For the past two years, as well, Davao introduced and implemented new laws with regards to road safety. There is a strict speed limit of 30km/hour and roads are heavily monitored by The Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC).

Along with the adjusted speed limit, minors were issued curfews stating that they were not to be in public areas after 10 PM and bars were issued a ban on selling alcohol after 1 AM.

My tour guides said that since these laws were passed, drunk driving and other major rule infractions have decreased substantially.

Even I noticed on our evenings out that, despite these regulations, the city maintains a nightlife that young adults enjoy. Outside, cafes with a live band playing and the usual videoke are quite popular and it’s nice to see that certain laws don’t prevent the people from enjoying themselves.



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