I have backpacked in Mindanao for two weeks, visited Davao once and loved the vibe of the city. I once said to myself that if I were given the chance to relocate to Mindanao, I would.Back then I had no idea how. I just finished my finals in Culinary School when I got a call from a friend asking if I would be interested to try working in Davao for at least six months initially then would just decide to stay longer if I wanted to. So I went to Davao two days after the call and decided in two days that yes I would take the offer and would love to work and live there for a while,
The initial plan was to stay for six months but ended up living there for two years, And those two years were some of the best years of my nomadic life! I was working really hard and sometimes finished my classes at 12 midnight. But there was a part of me that felt I was on vacation for two years. Davao was home for a while and I experienced the quality of life the locals are always proud of.
Here are the best things about my life in Davao:
Buying freshly picked rambutan from my neighbor.When rambutan was in season I didn't have to go to the market, I just had to wait while my neighbor was picking rambutan for my breakfast.
No Traffic.I don't really know how it is now with the new malls in the city but back then I didn't have to wake up so early for work and there was no need to rush for a date or a meet up.
Safety and Security. Contrary to what people think I always felt safe and could take a cab even at 12 midnight.I could basically go anywhere I wanted to and just avoided the places the locals would tell me to pass off.
I learned to speak Bisaya! I didn't have to as the locals speak Tagalog but I really wanted to learn. I could still remember my basics and love saying BITAW and LAGI up to now!
Durian. If you love durian then this is the best place for you to stay. I tried all varities and my favorite is still the native durian! I had durian cake,freshly made durian ice cream,durian yema,frozen durian for breakfast,durian shake,and durian frappuccino. I had durian with vanilla ice cream but my favorite was durian with coke!
Proximity to the islands.Samal Island is just 10 minutes away from the mainland and I felt like living in an island for a while.I didnt have to plan going to the beach. I could wake up in the morning and could just decide to go to Samal for lunch, take a nap and go back home.A less populated island called Talikud is only an hour away and would be a good option if you prefer less people.
Bangkerohan Market.I could have almost all kinds of fruit all year round.Mangosteen is very cheap.Pomelo is always avalable.I had jackfuit every weekend and the marang I learned to appreciate.
pomelo,mangoes and dalanghita
durian and mangosteen
Close to Nature.Some people miss Manila after being in Davao for a while but I didn't experience that.I only went home once in a span of two years despite having a vacation ticket every month. I lived in the city yet I still felt really close to nature, in my element. I lived between the sea and the mountains.I loved to go beach combing, island hopping,camping and trekking. And I was star struck when I saw PAG-ASA (the first Philppine eagle bred in captivity)for the first time!!!My only regret is not having climbed Mount Apo. I also could have gone white water rafting.
we found a lot of these at Talikud Island
Philippine Eagle Sanctuary
Agdao Market.The fish market to buy the freshest prawns,tuna,blue marlin,malasugue,crabs and some of the best fish for ceviche.
Regular visitors. I actively promoted Davao and had at least one visitor every month from Manila or abroad.I met a lot of new friends who stayed overnight and I cooked and baked regulary in my cozy kitchen.
this kitchen held a lot of mini-dinner parties
chewy choco chips and banana cake with pecan
It is a good base for exploring the rest of Mindanao.Mindanao is huge and there is so much to see and experience. I got to explore Compostella Valley, Gensan,Bukidnon,Surigao and some parts of Cotabato. I travelled with my students, new friends,travel buddies and visitors from Manila.
pineapple plantation in Polomolok
crossing a river near Lake Sebu
rafting on a lake in Bukidnon
ziplining in Bukidnon to conquer my fear of heights!
Inexpensive and delicious food. I love Davao's grilled fish, pork and chicken barbeque. I always went to Lachi's for their cakes and pastries. The halo-halo at MTS is the best.I queued up at Penong's and brought all my visitors at Delongtes for the best tuna panga and tinolang halaan.And I devoured on baked scallops and yummy ribs at Lyndon's Worst Ribs and Awful Chicken.And rice is unlimited in most eateries!
lady preparing our halo-halo
The locals are friendly,generous and helpful.It was easy for me to integrate and I found really good friends who I'm still very much in touch with.Cab drivers gave me change and people took time to teach me their dialect.
We do have many misconceptions about a place because of our limited knowledge and sometimes the media's sensationalized issues about it. Although I haven't really found that "perfect" place for me yet, I found Davao to be one of the best cities I've lived in.
How to get there:
Air Phiippines, Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines fly several times a day to Davao from Manila.
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What about you?Where have you been dreaming to live?