Back online 2

I just contributed the following at on What to do in Davao:

24 hours in my city

Boat rides to Paradise Island in Samal from Davao City open at 6 a.m. It’s the best time to take a trip to the white-sand beach resort. And have the beach almost to yourself.

After the chilly crossing to the island, one can have a multiple choice of morning delights. Take a brisk walk around, including at its mini-zoo; take a dip at the cool blue water; sample the aquabikes or snorkel and play with the fishes.

Breakfast awaits you after this bevy of activities. The resort offers both continental and Filipino cuisine. Try to down fresh coconut juice to end your trip.

On your way back downtown, drop by the Davao Museum at Insular Village, It opens at 9. The visit should give you a glimpse of the colorful lumad culture of the city. Davao is home to many cultural tribes. And in spite of progress, they have retained many of their local practices like celebrating the bountiful harvest during the Kadayawan festival (August).

To have some of those lumad crinckets, make a stop next at Aldevinco Shopping Center, just across Marco Polo Hotel and Ateneo de Davao University. Its fun to discover this place as a shopping paradise cum museum.

By 11, you should be heading south for Davao’s eco-tourism wonders at the foot of Mt Apo … Eden Nature Park in Toril District or Malagos Garden at Baguio District. At Eden one can have a panoramic view of the Davao Gulf. In Malagos, sample the local red wine made from bignay, local small red berries. In both places, lunch on organically-grown fresh vegetables and fruits amidst a lush setting of rich flora.

Take a quick nap aboard the van while on the way back as the sun sets silhouetting the many fruit orchards at Calinan and Tugbok Districs. Wake yourself up with durian coffee at Blu Gre at Landco Building when you reach downtown.

Or take this other eco-adventure – river-rafting the mighty Davao River. Your trip from upland Tamugan would end at the Crocodile Park by the Dizon’s River Front. There you can feed the crocks or feast on their special delicacies and famous pomelo.

Dinner should not be any problem after you freshen up. Take your pick – fresh seafoods at Ahfat, Korean delights at Arirang, Pinoy favorites at Probinsya or Chinese cuisine at Emerald all at the Victoria Plaza Carpark. An alternative would be Jack Ridge’s at Shrine Hill for al fresco dining with a scenic view of Davao’s skyline at night.

Dessert? For both the aficionados and the first-timers, the fruit that “smells like hell but tastes like heaven” are available at Magsaysay Park or along Anda St. Insist on the local varieties. Durian is now grown year-round but the best times are July to October.

The night would still be young by the time you finish your meal. So, head out to feel the pulse of the city’s nightlife. Coffee shops and bars are aplenty. Happy hour sing-a-long at Goodtimes just off Sta Ana Church or Chico’s along Rizal St.

If you want to meet the locals, try a quick look at the People’s Park. It’s a garden and open air art gallery rolled into one where the city’s rich and hoi polloi enjoy an urban oasis.

Prefer dancing and live bands? Then be by 9 pm at MTS (Matina Town Square), or at the restobar row along F. Torres or at The Venue (infront of Central Bank) or at the Damosa Gateway.

After the booze, try to avoid any hung-over with hot and spicy soup before the bed. Try Bullcachong along Gen. Luna St.

Then dream on the best day you ever had in my city.

8:11 a.m.

More than 3 times

The city-state of Singapore is so small that it can be just one of the islands in archipelagic Philippines. It has little natural wonders. Davao City is even 3-and-a-half larger than it and boasts of a number of natural attractions.

While the Philippines is happy in meeting its tourist arrival target of 3 million, Singapore has a record more than 3 times this number. And yet it is still striving hard to improve its services as a premier tourist destination.

More facilities are being built, thousands of workers being trained, and several signature events being lined up including the first night time Formula 1 race next year.


Whew! What’s wrong with Philippine tourism?

Regulatory capture

The Civil Aeronautics Board vehemently denied that it is under “regulatory capture.”

It demanded that the Senate hear its side on the the allegation by Sec. Romy Neri that it is under such state during his recent testimony over the ZTE scandal.

Well, if it is true that it is not in such straight jacket, I dare the CAB to declare its support to the “open skies” regime within 24 hours.

The proposal of Davao City for a pocket open skies has been gathering dust for the past four years at Malacanang due to the inaction and opposition of CAB. The application of Viva Macau to fly to Davao is also sleeping at the CAB for over a year now. About half a dozen other foreign airlines are likewise lining up at the closed doors of CAB waiting developments when they can fly to Davao.

The whole trouble with CAB is it equates the interest of some local carriers as the interest of the nation. It has been said many times that one key reason why Philippine tourism is a laggard is the lack of airline seats and yet CAB does not see this reality. It prefers not to level the playing field in its protectionist game at the expense of consumers, tourists and OFWs in particular.

I agree with Neri that it is a captured agency utilizing its regulatory powers to promote the selfish interest of the few.

(6:05 a.m.)