Monday, September 26, 2011

Revisiting Davao

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to” ~ John Ed Pearce
When I was younger, I was in a hurry to leave my home, my town, my city. I couldn't wait to get out. Someone once told me when I was a young kid that I would go places. I didn't realize then that it would happen, literally. 

My work assignments have allowed me to reach distant provinces, well-hidden towns and little heard of barrios. And so I revel in the thought that I am able to expand my horizon and get to know the places that I might choose to settle into. 

Yet, oftentimes, I catch myself pining for home. And I have become an ambassador of sorts to friends and acquaintances who think of Davao as an exotic destination. The pull to explore it is great but they're just afraid that they might not be back alive. So, I made it my personal mission to introduce them to the city of my birth. How else? But through a personal experience of the sights, sounds and taste that are distinctly Dabawenyo. 

Recently, I toured some local and foreign friends... albeit, on a very limited time. (I was on official visit.) See what awaits you in Davao, click here.
Welcome to Davao!

One of the places that you can easily access even at night are really worth seeing.

Jack's Ridge 

Its beautiful amphitheater.

And I believe Davao did not disappoint them. Just look at their happy faces.
Can't resist the little lumad sculptures. 

a view of the city at night

Hello Eden!
A beautiful spot in Eden Resort.
Samal Island. A mere 15-minute boat ride from the city.
The patio that leads to a modest-size pool. 

the steps that lead to the casitas on the upper level.

On a nearby resort, Paradise Island, you can even enjoy a relaxing massage by the shore. Beautiful massage huts are lined up. And this side of the resort's beach area is exclusively dedicated as its massage area.

Your view while enjoying a relaxing therapy.

Flying to Davao is the easiest route to take to get to this southern city of Mindanao. There are several airlines to choose from such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and even Zest Air. With the advent of many players in the aviation industry, fare has become cheaper than it used to. Now, you can get a round-trip ticket for a fraction of the fare in yesteryears. 

Accommodation likewise is easy. There are small hotels to cater to budget travelers, business hotels for executives and resorts for families on vacation. One of the most notable hotel in Davao is the Marco Polo. Rates are affordable and the location is very convenient. 
The Marco Polo Davao Hotel. To know more, click here.


Madayaw Dabaw!

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, our second pit stop. It is located in Bo. Pagasa, Bagac, Bataan. I must admit the road leading to this rustic place is quite deceiving. We had to weave through narrow residential streets before we came face-to-face with an imposing fortress-like wall.

But, boy, was it worth it. See for yourself.
Night time is just as awesome. It's a sight to behold.

It felt like we were transported back in time. The houses were dated centuries old. Some were even owned by Philippine heroes. And the materials they were made of were incredibly intricate. So much artistry and craftsmanship.  

All the restored houses, now called Casas, can be booked for the whole family. For those who aren't very comfortable with the idea of sleeping in really old houses, a replica of an old hotel in Escolta. Everything in here is new. 

Of course, we had to take photographs of ourselves also.
And played, too.We goofed with the kids in the plaza.
 Ah, what else can you ask for. We left bursting with happiness.
(Photo Credits: Tyrone Arreglo)

For more info on Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, visit their website.

Up North: Thunderbird Resort Poro Point, La Union

Holy Week. It's one of those public holidays in the Philippines that everyone, from all walks of life, look forward to. You see, it's a long holiday! Families, friends and even individuals plan their vacation during the very long weekend of holy week.

Most would trek to the beach, as this holiday coincidentally fall during the summer. My friends and I decided that we would do the same. But with a twist. We will take on a long road trip. Up in the north of Luzon. And we shall try to hit three places of interest in the four days that we will be combing the expressway.

First stop. Poro Point, La Union.
Welcome to the Thunderbird Poro Point Resort and Casino. And we've been ogling this place since we first heard of it, less than a year ago. In fact, when we got there, the place is still on its soft opening. We love soft openings! Usually, the place is still raw and non-rhythmic. We like getting to the know the place beyond its veneers.

The scenery took our breath away. Such a beautiful place to muse about life.  
View from the top.


Sunsets in Poro Point can be quite amazing, too. 

I've learned that when you travel with friends, you learn more from them. And the long hours on the road cease to be uncomfortable; it can be a timeline for the endless recollections long after the tan lines have faded.

A long road trip is more worthwhile when you spend it with the one you love.



(Photos: courtesy of Tyrone Arreglo)

Address: VOA Compound, Pennsylvania Avenue
San Fernando City, La Union
Philippines 2500
Tel. No.: (+6372) 888-7777
Fax No.: (+672) 888.3888

Rate: P7,000++/night/room (maximum of 4 pax/room) 

Growing up in the Banana Republic

I grew up in the barrio, right smack in the middle of a banana plantation. Who I am today is largely influenced by my upbringing in the banana republic.

My home town is hours away from the big city. Back then, my concept of the big city is the seemingly endless plains of Davao. But because of my love for the written word, my world expanded beyond the rural confines of my small barrio.

I dreamt of one day stepping, living and breathing the air and life of my city. I aspired the nonchalance of downtown dwelling. I craved for a niche in my laidback city.

One day, another opportunity knocked on my door. Off I flew to the queen city of the south. I was thrilled! That was my first of countless plane rides.

A few years later, I took a chance to be lost in metropolitan Manila. The sights, sounds and smog are the soundtrack and backdrop of my existence. I discovered the joy and sadness of being, on my own… in the big city.

It is a life full of promise, opportunities and friendships. It widened my horizon and added dimension to my being. It has afforded me a view to the other side of the world. Here, I discovered culture, travel, and nature. And how it intersperse with my roots, in the barrio.

And so I write about my thoughts as a barrio girl living in the city.

Look, it's a beautiful sunset!

I always marvel at how beautifully the sky is lit when it's almost time for sunset. Even in my limited skills at photography, I try to capture the moment, which could really be just fleeting. At the beautiful Thunderbird Resorts in Poro Point, La Union, I did not just get a glimpse of it, I was able to take a snap, as a keepsake.

Several months had passed already and yet, I still have this picture as my phone's wallpaper. In this time of insatiable desires and instant gratification, I take comfort in knowing that something beautiful and precious can still be had without spending a dime.

Every sunsets remind us that no matter how dark the night will turn out to be, it ushers in a new dawn for new and beautiful beginnings.