Beyond durian and orchids-A A +A
Friday, February 15, 2013
ON MARCH 6-9, Davao City will host the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions/events conference (MICECON), according to Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).
"MICECON will bring together delegates from the Philippines and foreign MICE industry comprising meeting/event planners, destination management companies, incentive tour operators, hotels and resorts, airlines, convention and exhibition centers, local tourism offices, and association executives, among many others," said TPB Chief Operating Officer Domingo Ramon C. Enerio III.
Officer-in-charge Stanie Soriano of the TPB MICE and Business Development Unit said that international experts, including several top Filipino corporate moguls, will talk about global meeting trends, branding, technovations, and other topics on business and travel during the conference.
To most of those who will be attending this MICECON, Davao evokes orchids and durian. But there’s more to these two Davao icons.
During their stay here, they will find out that "life is here," indeed.
In fact, there are several things they can do while they are in the country's biggest city.
Here are some:
Walk. Start your tour at the city hall in San Pedro Street. A few distant walk is the legislative building, whose façade has the famous freedom statue designed by the talented Kublai Millan. Adjacent to the statue is the historic San Pedro Cathedral.
From there, take a taxi and tell the driver to bring you to People’s Park (yes, its Davao’s counterpart of Manhattan’s Central Park) in Legazpi Street. It’s a place where people gather around, stroll and cross bridges, watch man-made waterfalls, or sit under the beautiful trees.
Go religious. San Pedro Cathedral was declared by the Philippine government as one of the country's national cultural treasures.
The original carvings of the images of saints and the altar decorations are well-preserved despite the many renovations made on the church in the past several years.
In Matina, you can go to the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague.
It has an open air chapel with replicas of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague and that of Our Lady of Fatima. The biggest Buddhist temple in Mindanao, in Cabaguio Avenue in Agdao District, is set in environment of candle trees and bamboo with an imposing statue of the Buddha and his life depicted in wood carving.
Learn from the past. As the city's repository of its cultural and historical heritage, Museo Dabawenyo in Pichon Street has galleries that showcase the local tribes' cultures and way of living, artifacts and information of the city's history and a hall of changing exhibits, art shows and various educational enrichment activities. Not far from the museum is Camp Domingo Leonor, quarters of the Spanish and later American soldiers in the 1920s.
Discover animal bones. D' Bone Collector Museum in Bucana, San Pedro Extension is the first and only bone museum in Mindanao. Among those being displayed are a 41-foot long sperm whale and bones of Grizzly bear.
Bones and skeletons of snakes, tarsier, marine turtles, various fish species, different sizes of the mouths of sharks, and birds abound. A bonus: you get to meet its curator, Darrell Blatchley, an American who speaks Cebuano well.
Relax and have communion with nature. Located in Toril, some 50 kilometers away from the heart of the city is Eden Nature Park. At 2,650 feet above sea level, it offers a breath-taking bird's-eye view of the city and the Davao Gulf in the distance. If you think it's far, then you can to go Calinan and visit the Malagos Garden Resort.
This 12-hectare inland nature theme resort offers visitors a myriad of orchid varieties, exotic plants and tropical fruit trees which may be available for picking, and a bird park that houses several endemic species.
A bonus: Malagos Gardens Amazing Bird Show and sculptures of Philippine National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva.
Close encounter with the wilds. If wildlife is your thing, visit the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District. Nestled at the rolling foothills of Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak, the center is not only home to Philippine eagles but other birds as well and plant species that are unique to the Philippines. There are also brown deer, monkeys, wild pigs, and a huge crocodile. Most of these wildlife species are placed in respective cages. At the Crocodile Park in Carlos P. Garcia Highway, you get to see crocodiles up close. There are other animals too like tiger, deer, birds, and snakes.
Try extreme adventures. Zipline is a breath-taking outdoor thrill ride. This will have you enjoying the view of the outdoors carrying you from one point to another. Davao has three places: in Eden Mountain Resort, Outland Adventure and Zip City (both in Diversion Road).
Wakeboarding is an extreme sport but is getting very popular. If you think you can stomach being pulled while boarding on water but have fears of possible accidents, you do not have to especially if you choose to try out your courage in Deca Wakeboard Park in Tacunan, Mintal.
Eat fruits to your heart's content. The city is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of mango, pomelo, banana, papaya, and mangosteen. Its fertile volcanic soil makes it most suitable for sustained production of these tastiest tropical fruits in the country. Don't miss eating the exotic durian, famous because of its spike and offensive scent ("It smells like hell, but tastes like heaven," one scribe noted).
Observe strictly the city ordinances. A curfew on minors is observed. All business establishments, in particular bars and discos, are mandated by a city ordinance to refrain from selling alcoholic drinks beyond 2:00 a.m. Motorcycle drivers with no helmets are not allowed to enter or drive within the city. The use of fireworks and other similar pyrotechnics, as well as smoking, is strictly prohibited in most of the city. Littering is also prohibited.
Do a city tour. The simplest way to get around is by hopping on a taxi. Unlike in other big cities, drivers in Davao do not normally bargain if they notice that you are a tourist, hence the cost of the trip is the same in price as a regular. In fact, taxi drivers in Davao are regarded as the most honest taxi drivers in the Philippines. Alternatively, if you opt for more adventure, then do as the locals and catch a colorful jeepney. Simply ask around for which route to take to avoid getting lost.
Sleep well. There is no shortage of accommodations in Davao; among the recommended ones are the Marco Polo Davao on Claveria, the Royal Mandaya Hotel on Ponciano, the Grand Regal Hotel and Casino Filipino and the Waterfront Insular Hotel on Lanang, and the Apo View Hotel.
There are also lodges and inns, all around the city.
Bring something from Davao. Colorful traditional tribal weaves and natural products of its indigenous groups are available at the Aldevinco Shopping Center located at Claro M. Recto Avenue and Manuel Roxas Boulevard. You can also visit the Davao Pasalubong Center in Palma Gil Street; among those sold are Davao products like handicrafts, processed food, fashion accessories, souvenir and gift items, home decors, indigenous costumes and native accessories using locally sourced and recyclable materials. For juicy pomelo and yummy durian fruits, check out those areas located in Magsaysay Park and the Madrazo Fruit Stands.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 15, 2013.