Take a bow, Davao.

Just when the bustling activities in Davao mirrors other big cities in the Philippines, the towering presence of Mt. Apo instantly looms and reminds visitors of the duality of Davao as an urban and countryside setting.

Eileen Campos
Jack's Ridge at Night. 

As many travelers before us would attest after exploring every nook and cranny peeling off the layers of the city one by one. They have discovered that apart from the booming offices, gigantic malls, suburban spaces and rush hour traffic, unearthing Davao’s rich tasting culinary scene, vibrant culture, historical gems, jovial festivals (like the Kadayawan) and spectacular outdoor destinations, are easier than downing a mouthful of the city’s most notable fruit, the Durian. 

Camille Briones
We also went to the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos that houses more than 30 Philippine Eagles, with half of them being captive bred. Seeing what famed aviator Charles Lindbergh described as "the air's noblest flier", up close was an awesome experience. 

This is by no means a knack to the Durian fruit, which is an acquired taste, as evidenced by those who have assimilated to its savor (and strong odor) and ended up embracing it as the city’s soul fruit. The same goes for Davao City. As each visitor notices and gains fascination on the city’s many captivating gifts, Davao becomes a very likeable place enough for one to visit it again and again.  

Cheekie Albay
After dinner, we went to the fruit stalls in Magsaysay to have some must-try Durian and Marang. We sampled three varieties of Durian. I ended up liking the Puyat variety more. I had a much better experience with Durian this time as compared to when I first tried it during my first visit in Davao a decade ago. With Marang, it's the same once you pop, you can't stop goodness.

Being the largest city in the country in terms of land area doesn't bottle up visitors from seeing more of Davao. A short drive or a boat ride here and there, will take you into a thrilling journey to the forested slopes of rugged mountain ranges where Philippine Eagles dare fly, on to where long white sandy shores meets the azure-colored sea waters, on to the mighty Davao river for some wild rafting ride, on to satisfying one’s sense of taste in a maze of street side gastronomic finds, and the list goes on. 

Cheekie Albay
Last night's dinner was in another heritage house turned restaurant. Tola, Kan-anan sa Balay Oboza is a more than 90-year old wooden structure previously owned by the Oboza family. This heritage home was built in 1930 by Alfonso Oboza Sr. — the wartime Mayor of Davao during the 2nd Republic (Japanese occupation). Today, much of the 2nd floor's original look remains while the ground floor was transformed into the Huckleberry bar.

It seems like in Davao City, every wanderer can effortlessly please all their senses. No wonder locals proudly claim, “Life is Here”. 

Cheekie Albay
Tried out chocolate making at Malagos Chocolate museum inside Malagos Garden Resort. It wasn't the whole process, since obviously, the first seven steps of chocolate making can take from several days to a few weeks. We proceeded to the molding part, which is the 8th of a 9-step process followed by Malagos. This is where you just need to pour the tempered chocolate to a molding tray with various shapes together with small amount of fillings (walnuts, almonds, dried mango, raisins etc). Afterward, cool it for half an hour and viola (fnished product on the last picture). Malagos Chocolate produces chocolates from single-origin cacao beans grown and harvested on their farm located on the foothills of Mt. Talomo — a dormant volcano beside Mt. Apo.

All that plus being the gateway to the cultural wonders of the rest of Mindanao, makes Davao City a must inclusion to every curious traveler’s itinerary. 

Cheekie Albay
Davao City is home to many traditional weaving practices. One of them is the one made by one of the 11 indigenous tribes of Davao, the Bagobo Klata. They are known for their elaborate clothing and fine artistry. 

Known to many as the hometown of our outgoing Philippine President, Davao should also be known among many things highlighted by its culture, heritage, cuisine, wellness, nature and so on. 

Kezia Romblon
 we had dinner at @bondibourkeph which is charmingly housed inside this 1920's former ancestral home of the Lat family. It is one of Davao's six remaining heritage homes.

So yeah, take a bow, Davao.