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Playing Tourist in Davao

There may be numerous tourist destinations all over the world, but the Philippines also offers more than enough of them—and they’re nearer too. Davao, in particular, has certain richness in its history and culture worth immersing in.

Check out a guide to the best Davao experience.

WHAT TO DO

EDEN NATURE PARK & RESORT

Eden Nature Park is a mountain resort located 3,000 feet above sea level. Spread out over an 80-hectare land in Toril, Eden offers numerous resort activities and facilities, such as a fishing village, a swimming pool, an amphitheater, flower and butterfly gardens, a deer park and a mountain trail.

MUST TRY: Skycycling. For Php 200.00 per person, get to ride a bicycle over a zip line.

Barangay Eden, Toril, Davao City
http://www.edennaturepark.com.ph/

Verbascum thapsus, also known as Wedding Candles

Verbascum thapsus, also known as Wedding Candles

PHILIPPINE EAGLE CENTER
The Philippine Eagle Center is home to 36 Philippine eagles, 18 of which are captive-bred. It also houses grass owls, Brahminy Kites, the long-tailed macaque (monkey), Philippine deer and a crocodile. It simulates a tropical rainforest environment, offering visitors a glimpse of the country’s forest ecosystem.

MUST VISIT: Biasong, a majestic Philippine eagle that has an amputated wing.

Davao City
http://www.philippineeagle.org/center/

Biasong, one of the main attractions at the Philippine Eagle Center

Biasong, one of the main attractions at the Philippine Eagle Center

TACLOBO TOUR & SNORKELING
The fishing village at Adecor, Samal Island is famous for the 3,500 taclobo (clams) scattered around a 14-hectare area. Go snorkeling into the clear turquoise waters to see these clams and the pearls inside.

GETTING THERE: Take a boat bound for the Island Garden City of Samal at the Sta. Ana Wharf

PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY COMMAND CENTER
The Public Safety and Security Command Center provides protection, security, safety and risk management to the people in Davao City. Likened to the homeland security in the United States, the Command Center houses the 911 services, as well as monitors the city through the almost 200 high-definition CCTV cameras stationed in Davao’s entry and exit points, and major intersections.

Daang Patnubay, Davao City
http://www.davaocity.gov.ph/psscc/home/home.aspx

Davao City's Public Safety and Security Command Center

Davao City’s Public Safety and Security Command Center

WHERE TO EAT

PENONG’S SEAFOOD & GRILL
Penong’s Seafood & Grill is a native-themed restaurant well known for its delicious and juicy pork and chicken barbeque. With several branches all over Davao, it pioneered the unlimited rice concept, which eventually became a fad with other restaurants in Davao. It also encourages diners to clap their hands twice to get the waiters’ attention, as opposed to calling out for them.

TIP: Not going to Davao anytime soon? Penong’s has a branch at the corner of Juana Osmena and Escario Streets, right across the Best Western Plus Lex Cebu.

http://www.penongs.ph/

TAKLOBO RESTAURANT AT JACK’S RIDGE
Jack’s Ridge is a local hangout famous for is commanding views of Davao City at night. It used to be the headquarters of the Japanese forces during World War II, as the location allowed them to see when the American ships anchoring on the Davao Gulf. The main restaurant, Taklobo, offers Filipino favorites such as grilled tuna, sinigang and kinilaw.

CHECK OUT: The remains of an old Japanese plane that crashed into the ridge.

Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao City
http://www.jacksridgedavao.com/

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack’s Ridge (Photo courtesy of Jack’s Ridge Davao)

 

WHERE TO HAVE COFFEE & DESSERT

BLUGRÉ COFFEE
Davao’s most famous coffee shop, Blugré is known for serving the durian coffee, a truly unique concoction that samples Davao’s most polarizing delicacy, the durian. Whether you’re a fan of the fruit or not, the Durian Cappucino and the Durian Arctic Blasts are must-trys.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Their durian-infused pastries, especially the Durian de Leche Cheesecake.

http://www.blugre.com/

SAGING REPABLIK
Saging Repablik is a specialty restaurant serving ‘Sagingese’ cuisine—innovating the menu with the addition of bananas. The banana twist extends from the appetizers to the entrees, and from desserts to the drinks. Of course, a banana-inspired place wouldn’t be complete without bananaque, and at Saging Repablik, they elevate this street food favorite through the Create Your Own Bananacue Station.

MUST-TRY: Cavendish chips with your choice of two dips.

V. Mapa St., Poblacion District, Davao City
http://www.facebook.com/sagingrepablik/

Make your own bananacue at Saging Repablik

Make your own bananacue at Saging Repablik (Photo courtesy of Saging Repablik)

WHERE TO HAVE A NIGHTCAP

THE WHITE HOUSE FUSION CUISINE AND WINE LOUNGE
The White House is the newest fine-dining restaurant, offering Asian-European fusion cuisine. It’s also a landmark, with the historical value of the European-inspired house that was faithfully restored and turned into a restaurant. The sprawling place, tucked into a quiet corner in the heart of the city, is the perfect venue to relax and have a drink.

MUST-TRY: Sashimi and bento boxes

Camella Northpoint, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City
http://www.whitehousecuisine.com/

One of the function rooms on the second floor of The White House

One of the function rooms on the second floor of The White House

WHERE TO BUY SOUVENIRS

ALDEVINCO SHOPPING CENTER
A shopping market located at the heart of the city, Aldevenco offers all the possible souvenirs tourists would want to take home, including delicacies, malongs, woven bags and wallets, and jewelry.

CHECK OUT: For more unique souvenirs like chests and traditional weapons, check out their antique shops.

Claro M. Recto cor. Manuel Roxas Avenues, Davao City

WHERE TO STAY

PARK INN BY RADISSON DAVAO
Park Inn by Radisson Hotels offers a vibrant, friendly environment that provides both business and leisure travelers with the affordable hotel experience they desire. It has a bridgeway offering guests direct access to the SM Lanang Premier, one of the biggest shopping destinations in Davao.

Asian Highway 26, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City
http://www.parkinn.com/hotel-davao

 

The standard room at the Park Inn by Radisson (Photo courtesy of Park Inn)

The standard room at the Park Inn by Radisson (Photo courtesy of Park Inn)

 

SEDA HOTEL ABREEZA
The Seda Hotel Abreeza is located at the heart of the city, offering convenience and luxury for business travelers and tourists. It’s right across the Abreeza Ayala mall, another major shopping center in Davao.

Abreeza Ayala Business Park, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City
http://www.sedahotels.com/abreeza/

 

The twin room at SEDA Hotel Abreeza

The twin room at SEDA Hotel Abreeza (Photo courtesy of SEDA)

HOW TO GET THERE

AIR ASIA PHILIPPINES
AirAsia Zest flies to Davao from Manila thrice daily, and from Cebu twice daily. For bookings, visit http://www.airasia.com/.

text and photos by Patty Taboada

Travel

For Our Next Travel Destination, We Dream About Koh Samui in Thailand

Impressive views of the Gulf of Thailand welcome you at the Arrival Sala

Silent Sanctuaries

Mayenne Carmona discovers the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui is a quiet oasis to recharge and rejuvenate…

What does one expect from a Four Seasons Resort? Everything! Firstly, it will definitely be ranked no less than a five-star hotel or resort. Most importantly, it would not fall short of all your expectations: excellent cuisine, topnotch comfort at your fingertips in a well-appointed villa, courteous staff who offer impeccable service, and every other detail you could possibly need—down to the last cotton bud. After all, a Four Seasons Resort is always designed by a top-rated architectural team and interior designers.

The moment I stepped into the Four Seasons Resort at Koh Samui, I felt all my cares washed away by the soft waves of the bluest sea. The fresh air cleared my sinuses in no time, and the gentle breeze was a much needed caress to a tired mind and body. It was truly paradise regained for me and my friends. We were a motley group of career-oriented people who needed a much-awaited break from work, and this was the perfect choice for us.

Each Villa has a butler to cater to the guests’ every whim. The afternoon we arrived, we requested a sunset dinner by the beach, and much like a genie, our butler whipped up a romantically set candlelit dinner for six. A five-course delicious Thai dinner was prepared by their well-trained chef.

Our days were spent languishing by the beach, having daily massages, attending yoga classes, doing water sports and enjoying every bite of Thai cuisine. Golf carts transported us wherever we wanted to go within the resort. This vacation brought all my senses to another realm, and restored a weary soul to perfection. 

Four Seasons Koh Samui, I look forward to seeing you again!

Koh Samui is the third largest island of Thailand in the scenic Gulf of Siam. It is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees and abundant tourist resources make it a popular holiday destination.

For more information on Four Seasons Resort, visit their website at https://www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui/

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s March 2016 Travel Issue, “Silent Sanctuaries” written by our columnist Mayenne Carmona for La Vie En Rose on pages 32-33.)

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Travel

Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise

LOST IN PARADISE

Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.

by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder

Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.

The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.

 


Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”

The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.

The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.

In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!

For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com

 

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)

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Travel

THROWBACK THURSDAY. Our Stylish Voyage on a Boat with Loida and Richard

FOR SAIL

With hosts Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau, we take entertaining to the high seas.

by Shari Quimbo photography Steffen Billhardt

The sky was decidedly gloomy on the Sunday afternoon Loida Montesclaros and Richard Forteau invited a small group of us for a sail, the clouds getting darker as I make my way to Porter’s Marina, where the Blue Planet was docked.

“Richard built the boat himself in Cebu,” Loida explains, going on to share that he was the former honorary French consul in Cebu. “It was built here, and I designed the interiors.”

All that work certainly paid off—Loida and Richard would often sail the boat out to different Philippine destinations such as El Nido, Siargao, Boracay and the Gigantes Islands in Iloilo. These could mean days-long journeys that sometimes meant dealing with some rough seas. Quick day trips, much like the one we were about to embark on, were also a regular past time.

Loida gives me a quick tour of the boat then shows off her tropical spread. With its bright blue and white floral seating, the cabin’s dining area is already a pretty festive site. “I wanted to keep it simple,” she tells me, arranging her fresh fruits around on the banana leaf-covered wooden slabs she was using as serving trays. “And I wanted it to look more local, more tropical. We are on the water, after all.”

The bamboo slats of the dining table were the perfect backdrop to Loida’s spread, which featured tropical fruits alongside an entire roll of lechon belly, fresh lumpia, empanada and steamed shrimp.

The highlight of the table, though, was the chicken liver pate, a dish that Richard makes himself. “Luckily, the French love to cook,” Loida jokes conspiratorially.

Finally, it was time to take the vessel out onto the high seas, and the group makes its way above deck to enjoy the view. The cool sea breeze was a bit stronger than usual, something that had to do with the dark rain clouds looming above us—something that would have deterred any other group, but not this adventurous bunch. Armed with a glass of champagne in one hand and a biscuit smeared with pate on the other, many stand against the railing, admiring the sight of the sky turning orange above the Mactan Channel.

And then it starts to pour. No matter, though—as the rain pounds against the deck, the party finds its way down below. A bottle of wine is opened, and then another, while a second pot of pate is transferred on a plate. Our captain waits until the waves calm before he brings us back ashore.

(This story has already been published in the printed edition of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s November 2016 issue as one of the Entertaining Features on pages 82-85.)

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