Cultural Potpourri | Impressions on Davao by a First Time Visitor

Last June 29 to June 4 was a busy schedule for me with my former UP College of Architecture (Diliman Campus) classmates visiting me. It had been months since Archt.

Aimee Maceda Aquino of Manila, a first degree cousin of Baby Maceda-Montemayor, and Archt. Menchie Abragan-Atienza of New York planned of visiting Davao City for some rest and recreation. It was the first time Menchie was to set foot on Davao soil which truly excited her. She had been away for about two decades; and dear Aimee saw to it that it was worth her time coming back home to the Philippines for a visit. Menchie was determined to visit provinces in the country she hasn’t gone to. Davao was first her list upon Aimee’s strong recommendation and it excited her being the hometown of our controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Friends reunited (l-r): Architects Menchie Abragan-Atienza, Aimee Maceda-Aquino and Michael Ebro Dakudao

Friends reunited (l-r): Architects Menchie Abragan-Atienza, Aimee Maceda-Aquino and Michael Ebro Dakudao

“Coming from New York, all I expected from my Davao trip at the start was to share good food with dear friends that I haven’t seen for years. My Davao trip turned out to be so much more,” she said as she continued, “Homemade breakfast at my friend Michael’s home was such a delight to trigger my taste of Davao. This was followed by a delicious Filipino lunch hosted by Baby Maceda-Montemayor at Mesa Restaurant in SM Lanang Premier. Then off we went to the Rodriguez family’s popular Paradise Island in the Garden City of Samal which was truly a restful haven for me having spent so many years in New York’s concrete jungle. The variety of plants utilized in the resort’s landscaping was such a treat for me. It was such a sight to behold. Not to mention the delicious resort’s cuisine made of fresh ingredients we truly savored and enjoyed. Never have I felt so happy and contended in a long time.”

Dining at Mesa with Baby Maceda-Montemayor

Dining at Mesa with Baby Maceda-Montemayor

“Travelling from the traffic-congested Davao City to the Puentespina family’s Malagos Garden Resort was truly an amazing and welcoming oasis. The local vegetation of various flowering plants in the midst of such lush greenery only made me imagine the Garden of Eden right here in Davao City. Not to mention the fantastic artworks of varying sculptures in the place. It was interesting to visit the chocolate museum as well.”

“The Insular Waterfront Hotel-Davao is a beautifully maintained, well preserved, iconic hotel of Davao City. I was quite surprised that the hotel retains most of its native design elements complete with that 1960’s feel. It was such a privilege to visit the Dakudao family’s historic estate. The beautiful family mausoleum designed by Archt. Michael Ebro Dakudao from the ruins of the Dr. & Mrs. Santiago Pamplona Dakudao, Sr. residence originally built by Japanese carpenters in 1936 was truly impressive and one of a kind. Oh yes, it was a must for us to visit President Duterte’s humble home plus the high-walled mansion of the Ampatuan family. I enjoyed visiting the Crocodile Farm and meeting the owners Sonny and Marco Dizon. It was a first for me to hold a huge albino python and baby crocodile while being photographed. The Japanese Tunnel as well was amazing. All these places I went to in Davao were just unforgettable for me.”

“I dread to think about the calories I consumed throughout my visit. Such a delightful Spanish cuisine served at Tiny Kitchen by Vincent Rodriguez. French cuisine was made more enjoyable with the presence and hospitality of Claude and Tess LeNeindre of Claude’s at the lovely Oboza Heritage House. I loved the Southeast Asian cuisine of Dim Yum; and so with the Filipino Pizza of Insular Waterfront Hotel. The sizzling pochero of Roadside Cafe and Bigby’s grilled chicken barbecue with its special sauce were so delicious. And Davao’s various fruits are something to rave about.”

As for Aimee Maceda-Aquino, who visits Davao once a year, she expressed, “Davao has always been for me one destination where gustatory delight connects to lifelong relationships with family and friends; and to the interesting social journeys of personalities who helped make Davao what it is today.”

“Davao’s gastronomic display and hospitality is a fusion of European, Asian, and Filipino regional cultures that are as varied as the Davao population. Breakfast and dinner of tapa and chorizo, grilled food, local fruits served with so much courtesy, love and warmth was such a pleasing experience in Paradise Resort where we got to meet the owner. Equally delightful was a serving of delicious paella, lengua con champignon, chorizo and shrimps, and queso de bola cheesecake and local coffee in Tiny Kitchen. The dining experience is something worth duplicating when I return to Davao next time for my highly valued haircut from Mr. Deeno Jeong of the SVS Korean Beauty Salon.”

Thank you, Aimee and Menchie, for the distraction er visit. Owing to problems with the internet connection, good pictures were not downloaded for this article.

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