Saturday, March 24, 2012

Davao Water Taxi

DAVAO WATER TAXI is another first in the Philippines! Mobility between mainland Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal will be faster and more convenient to tourists and locals alike. 

Just like any other land-based taxis, the water taxi also has a meter. It can carry up to 14 persons including the boat captain. Fare is Php700 for four passengers for the first 5 kilometers and additional Php50 per passenger for the next succeeding kilometer. It is very safe as all units are complete with safety equipment such as life vests. It is also accredited by the Maritime Industry Authority or MARINA.

The water taxis are based at Sta. Ana Wharf in Davao City with business hours from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM and can also be chartered for boat transfers and island group tours.

Images are courtesy of


Time Zone

+8 GMT. Philippine standard time is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime. EDT +13 hours.


Visitors with valid passports may stay up to 21 days without a visa. Hong Kong and Taiwan passport holders, however, require a special permit, which may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.


The Philippine currency is Peso, divided into 100 centavos. Next to the peso, the U.S. dollar enjoys wide acceptance, Australian and New Zealand currencies are likewise accepted in Currency Exchange Counters in Major Establishments. The currency code is PHP. It stands for Philippine Peso. Bank notes come in P10, P20, P50, P100, P200, P500, and P1000 denominations, while coins are in 5c, 10c, 25c, P1, P5, and P10.

Credit Cards

Visitors are advised to bring sufficient amount of change in small bills or coins. Major international credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, resort, restaurants, shopping centers, among others.

Business Hours

Banks and Government offices:

Banks are usually open between 10 AM to 3 PM on weekdays, and 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM on Saturdays.

Business Offices:

Government and private offices are open from 8 AM to 5 PM on weekdays. While some offices may open on Saturdays, weekends, however, are generally considered day off.

Shops (Hours vary):

Most shops open at 10:30 AM, closing at around 7 PM.  Lunch hour is usually from noon to 2 PM.


Bellhops expect a tip, as do waiters, taxi drivers, hairdressers, beauticians, and porters. Most hotels and restaurants add 10% service charge on top of the government tax. Tipping 15% of the bill is  considered appropriate if no service charge is included. P5 to P10 for bellboys, porters, and like. 10% service charge is usually added to the bill. If not, 10% of the bill is adequate for the waiters.


Most areas are supplied with 220 volts, 60 cycles, Over 600 mw. A plug with 2 flat parallel prongs is the norm. 220/250 volts, 50 cycles AC, 110V adapters are available upon request. Davao has a 220-volt electrical system. Some hotels provide 110-volt electrical system. Visitors may inquire from hotel front office about the availability of transformers.


Davao City is considered one of the world's largest city in terms of land area which is 2,443.6 square kilometers. It has an estimated population of 1,400,000 accounting to 19% of the entire Southern Mindanao region. It is the second biggest urban market within the East ASEAN Growth Polygon.


Lightweight summer clothing is advised. Jackets may be used for slightly more formal occasions. A light suit would be appropriate for business. Clothes for men and women is much like the West. Wear naturalfibre, lightweight clothing. You'll feel more comfortable. Bring shorts, hat sunglasses, bathing suit, insect repellent, flashlight, sun block cream, tough shoes for walking, and rubber slippers for the beach.


If you are in Bali, Manado Airport is the closest.

If you are in Singapore and elsewhere, Silkair of Singapore Airlines flies daily between Singapore and Davao City. Qantas Serves Sydney-Manila and Melbourne- Sydney-  Manila routes.

Qantas, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines ticketing office can be found at the Apo View Hotel  in Downtown, Davao City, and online.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) ticketing is also available online.

Useful Numbers

Embassy of Australia Telephone: (632) 757 8100 - Fax: (632) 757 8268
Embassy of New Zealand Telephone: (632) 891-5358 to 67 or (632) 891-3272 to 75

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lechón Buwaya (Roasted Crocodile)

Lechón Buwaya (Roasted Crocodile)

Lechón is a popular food in the Philippines. In fact, lechón is the country's National Dish. It is prepared throughout the year for any special occasion, during festivals, and the holidays. The word "lechón" actually originated from the Spanish term "leche" which means "milk",  thus lechón refers to a suckling pig that is roasted. The dish usually features a whole suckling pig grilled over charcoal. But nowadays, the original use of a suckling pig has given way to a medium-sized adult pig. Preparation of lechón is quite simple; after the entrails are removed, the pig is seasoned with spices which may include: "tanglad" (lemon grass) or "dahon ng sampalok" (tamarind leaves). It is then skewered in a long bamboo stem, grilled over a pit filled with hot charcoal fire and turned in a rotisserie action. The pig is roasted on all sides for several hours until done. The process of cooking and occasionally basting it with cooking oil usually results in making the pork skin crisp, giving it a distinctive aroma and mouthwatering taste.

Over the years, and just like any popular dish, the lechón also evolved. Aside from the use of pork, the lechón manok (grilled marinated chicken) has become so popular a dish in recent years that the business of lechón manok has mushroomed through out the Philippines, that every street corner is now filled with the likes of the more popular chains of Andok's and Baliwag Lechón Manok, and the list goes on . . . 

And quite recently, the city of Davao has caught much the attention of the public, and of course, the Philippine media, because of a different kind of lechón - the notoriously talked-about Lechón Buwaya (Roasted Crocodile).

Lechón Buwaya (Roasted Crocodile)

In October 2011, the Davao Crocodile Park launched its "Croctoberfest 2011" in Davao City where saltwater crocodiles were roasted in the traditional way of cooking lechón. These were farm-bred saltwater crocodiles whose skins are usually sold commercially for leather and their meat for food consumption. The Davao Crocodile Park secures special permits from the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) before these farm-bred crocodiles are slaughtered for commercial or food purposes. 

Crocodile meat is found to be low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein, and looks like a cross between roasted beef and pork and tastes like chicken - a little grainy but tender and just right. The price may well be prohibitive at PhP2,000 per kilo, but there are many of those who regard it as a delectable fare.

Grilled over hot charcoal fire

The whole crocodile was marinated overnight in beer, pineapple and calamansi juice, coco syrup, chillies, pepper corns, and various spices. Roasted over hot charcoal fire for well three hours, the croc's edible meat emits a distinctive pungent smell, strong, and penetrating. While some people may regard it as somewhat fragrant and enticing, others may find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The taste evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust.

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the largest of all living reptiles. It also known as the estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, and is found in suitable habitats from Northern Australia through Southeast Asia to the eastern coast of India.

Saltwater crocodile

Sunday, March 11, 2012

75th Araw ng Dabaw 2012

Effigy of PNoy at the Araw ng Dabaw Parade
Photo courtesy of

The merry month of March 2012 is another festive month in Davao City, because it is on this month that Dabawenyos will be celebrating its 75th Araw ng Dabaw 2012 in its diamond year anniversary this March 16, as the city was founded 75 years ago, with this year's theme, "Pag-higugma sa Nasud Pag-Amuma sa Syudad", and numerous fun-filled activities, events, and contests have been lined up by the city government of Davao and the various socio-civic organizations in the city. The celebration is a special non-working holiday in Davao City.

"Araw ng Dabaw," which literally means "Davao Day," is a week-long celebration of the founding of the city with trade fairs, colorful socio-civic and military parades along the main streets of the city, cultural presentations of the various ethnic tribes in Davao City, sports competitions, and fireworks. The highlight of the event is the selection of the "Mutya ng Dabaw," which means "Miss Davao", from among the best, the brightest, and the most beautiful ladies in the city every 15th of March, with this year's crowned beauty getting P75,000 cash prize.

This year's 75th Araw ng Dabaw 2012 is the grandest celebration yet as the city government has increased the budget to P8.2 million, or more than double last year’s budget of P3.9 million, with P7.6 million appropriated from the city's coffers, and P550,700 from corporate and private sponsorships. The budget will be used for the various city-led events and prizes of various contests.

The  Araw ng Dabaw has its roots. In the 1930's, Davao was completely under the control of the Japanese immigrants, who, despite laws restricting foreign ownership of land, managed to become the largest plantation owners in Davao. They were able to achieve this by using dummies to buy land for them, and by marrying local women particularly with Datu lineage, and also by renting land from local landowners. During this period, the then undivided province of Davao was the biggest producer of abaca in the world with the Japanese practically controlling the entire industry. Their economic dominance in Davao made them politically influential. They had built their own schools, hospitals, and constructed road networks. The biggest concentration of the Japanese was in the Guianga District, centered around Mintal, and their population grew to about 17,900 by 1939.

As Japan was becoming a world power, having defeated Russia in 1904 and annexed Korea in 1910 and Manchuria in 1931, doubts were raised as to the real intentions of the Japanese presence in the country. In the 1934 Constitutional Convention, Davao delegate Pantaleon Pelayo Sr. bravely denounced the control of Davao by the Japanese and their unlimited acquisition of land. The presence of the Japanese in Davao had now become a national problem.

On March 16, 1936, Davao Assemblyman Romualdo C. Quimpo filed Bill No. 609 or Commonwealth Act No. 51 - An Act Creating the City of Davao, which was intended to break the control of the Japanese. The Act further stipulated that the city officials would be solely appointed by the President of the Philippines instead of being elected, as it was believed then that in elections, Japanese-supported candidates would win, and, therefore, entrench Japanese power in Davao.

On October 16, 1936, Bill No. 609 was signed into law by then President Manuel L. Quezon. The following year, on March, 1937, Executive Proclamation No. 132 was issued that formally created the City of Davao. 

It was during the term of Mayor Elias B. Lopez that the celebration of the foundation of Davao City was made a week-long celebration that culminated on March 16.

Today, Davao City remains the most progressive city in Mindanao and is considered the most livable city in the Philippines. Foreign investors and tourists are most welcome, but Davao City will always remain under the firm and sole control of Filipinos as its founding fathers had intended.

75th Araw ng Davao 2012 Schedule of Activities:

February 8, 2012

On the Spot Painting Contest
Youth Category, 8–17 years old - 8AM – 12PM
Senior Category, 18–35 years old - 1PM – 5PM
Davao City Recreation Center

February 9, 2012

Poetry Composition Contest
Youth - 8AM – 12PM
Senior - 1PM – 5PM
Davao City Recreation Center

February 10-29, 2012

On the Spot Painting and Poetry Contest Finalists Roadshow
Abreeza, Gaisano Mall, NCCC, SM City Davao - Mall Hours

February 11, 2012

Mutya ng Dabaw Screening - 10AM – 5PM
Kick Off: Blog Competition: Davao Life is Here! - 1 PM
Kick Off: Davao Video Competition: Davao in a Minute - 1 PM
SM City Davao 

February 12, 2012

Mutya ng Dabaw – Closed Door Interview - 1PM – 5PM
SM City Davao

February 14 or 15 2012

Opening of the Floriculture Park Old DAR, Ecoland

February 16, 2012

Song Composition Contest - 8AM – 5PM
Davao Mascot Design Competition - 1PM – 5PM
Davao City Recreation Center

February 17-29, 2012

Song & Mascot Design Competition Finalists Road Show
Abreeza, Gaisano Mall, NCCC, SM City Davao - Mall Hours

February 22, 2012

Davao Cookfest: Make your Davao Dish!
Schools - 8AM – 12PM
Restaurants - 1PM – 5PM
Davao City Recreation Center

February 23-29, 2012

Davao Cookfest: Finalists Roadshow - Mall Hours
Abreeza, Gaisano Mall, NCCC, SM City Davao
February 23, 2012 
Davao Cookfest:  Make your Davao Dessert! -  1PM – 5 PM
Davao City Recreation Center

March 1-31, 2012

Araw ng Dabaw Competitions Roadshow - Mall Hours
Abreeza, Gaisano Mall, NCCC, SM City Davao

Davao: Then and Now in Museo Dabawenyo - 9AM – 12NN / 1PM – 6PM
Museo Dabawenyo

Araw ng Dabaw Agri Trade Fair - 9AM – 5PM
SM Grounds, Ecoland

Hudyakaan sa Araw ng Dabaw- 6PM -2AM
Roxas Avenue

March 1-10, 2012

Band, Singing Competition (at Hudyakaan) - 6PM
Roxas Avenue

March 9, 2012

1st Mayor Inday Sara Z. Duterte Athletes’ Recognition Night - 6PM
The Ritz Hotel Garden Oases

March 10, 2012

Folk Dance Competition - 2PM – 6PM
Rizal Park

March 12-18, 2012

"Best of Davao" Showcase
Abreeza Mall - Mall Hours

March 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Mass - 4PM
San Pedro Cathedral

Opening Celebration: Davao’s 75th Anniversary! - 5PM
Rizal Park

March 13, 2012

Mayor’s and Vice Mayor’s Leaders’ Appreciation Program - 6PM
Davao City Recreation Center

Lankuban: Musiko Dabawenyo - 6PM
People’s Park

March 14, 2012

Mutya ng Dabaw Coronation Night - 6PM
Davao City Recreation Center

March 15, 2012

Datu Bago Awards - 6PM
The Royal Mandaya Hotel

Celebrity Adventure Race - All day
Around Davao

Sayawan sa Dalan - 2PM
Roxas, CM Recto, Bonifacio, Pelayo, San Pedro

March 16-23, 2012

Urban Sights and Sounds: The Stories of San Pedro Street Photo Exhibition - Mall Hours
Abreeza Mall

March 16, 2012

Parada Dabawenyo (A Civic-Military Parade) - 7AM
Roxas Avenue to Rizal Park via CM Recto Avenue, Bonifacio Street, Pelayo Street , San Pedro Street

Pahalipay Concert: AEGIS - 6PM
Rizal Park

March 17, 2012

Sayawan sa Dan Davao Streets - 1PM – 5 PM

Pahalipay Concert - 6PM
Rizal Park

March 18, 2012

Araw ng Dabaw Fun Run - 5AM – 8AM
Assembly at Rizal Park
Around San Pedro Street, Illustre Street, Camus Street, Quirino Avenue , JP Laurel Avenue

Bangkathon sa Davao Gulf 2012 - 7AM
Sta. Ana Wharf

Pyrotechnics or Light & Sound Show 
Closing Ceremonies 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jeepney - King of the Philippine Roads

Davao Jeepney

Jeepneys are the most popular and inexpensive modes of public transportation in the Philippines. Not only has it been hailed as the "King of the Philippine Roads," but also regarded as a truly Filipino cultural icon. They are widely known for their colorful flamboyant decoration and practical utility.

The word "jeepney" was derived from a combination of the words, "Jeep" and "Jitney." Jeep is a portmanteau of "General Purpose" or "Gee P". These are light utility vehicles that were built by Ford Motor Company of the United States specifically for all-terrain warfare and tactical use during World War II. Jeeps are generally short, relatively lighter than trucks and cars, unarmored with 4-wheel drive, and a short body overhangs for all-terrain mobility with at least 4 passenger capacity. The importance of this class of military vehicle was summed up by General Dwight Eisenhower who said that the four most important US weapons in World War II were the C-47 Skytrain, the bazooka, the jeep, and the atom bomb. Civilian adaptation of the Jeep is the first sport utility vehicle.

Willys MB US Army Jeep of World War II

A jitney, on the other hand, is a North American English term that originally referred to a "vehicle for hire" intermediate between a taxi and a bus. These are generally a small-capacity vehicles that follow a rough service route, but can go slightly out of its way to pick up and drop off passengers. In the United States, the term "jitney" refers to an unlicensed taxi cab. The name comes from an archaic, colloquial term for a "five-cent" piece (the nickel) in the US. The common fare for the service when it first came into use was five cents, so the "five-cent cab" or "jitney cab" came to be known for the price charged. 

MacArthur Jeep
The Willys MB US Army Jeep of World War II is the most widely known vehicle of this class. Over 640,000 Jeeps were manufactured from 1941 to 1945. Hundreds of these Jeeps, popularly known in the Philippines as the "MacArthur Jeep", were left behind by American troops after World War II. These were either sold or freely given to the Filipinos and were widely used to augment the lack of transportation after the war. These were altered and customized to accommodate more passengers, added metal roofs, and decorated them with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.

Post War Jeep in Davao City

The rapid emergence of the Jeepney as a widespread and yet a necessary mode of transportation, had led the Philippine government the eventual regularization of its use as a public passenger vehicle. Drivers are now required of specialized licenses, with regular routes, at reasonably fixed fares. Today, Jeepneys are manufactured by local body builders from a combination of prefabricated materials and improvisation often with "surplus" Japanese SUVs or light truck diesel engines, transmissions, suspensions, and steering components.

Conventional Type Jeepney

Jeepney's Interior
Jeepneys usually have open doors with hand railings at the rear where passengers can board and disembark. Inside the Jeep is a couple of long rows of bench type seats along the sides which can usually seat 16 or so passengers, and two more extra seats next to the driver. They are usually manned by two people: the driver, and the conductor who manages the passengers and collects the fare. In the absence of a conductor, people seated closest to the driver are responsible for passing on the fare to the driver. At designated stops, a dispatcher, often called the "barker", is often present, calling out potential passengers for a particular route or destination. Jeepneys may be flagged down much like the taxis by holding out or waving an arm at the approaching vehicle. Because of the proximity of the passengers in jeepneys, certain etiquette is observed: jostling and shoving passengers is considered rude; elderly and women are always given preference in seating; children are allowed to ride for free if seated on the lap of the accompanying adult thereby not taking up seating space. If the jeepney is in full capacity, male passengers usually cling on the outside hand railings, or as a common practise particularly in the remote areas of the provinces, sit on the roof. This practice, however, is highly dangerous and definitely illegal, and is, therefore, discouraged. To stop the vehicle, passengers usually rap their knuckles on the roof the jeepney, or rap a coin on a metal handrail, or simply tell the driver to stop. Modern jeepneys often have buzzers to alert the driver of a disembarking passenger.

Jeepneys have open door at the rear where passengers can board and disembark

A conductor rides at the back calling out potential passengers


A common sight in the provinces

Jeepney Terminal

The start and end point of a route is a Jeepney terminal, where Jeepneys plying a particular route are filled with passengers one at a time, preferring only to leave the terminal when full, usually to more than comfortable capacity.

Nelson Type Jeep of Davao City

In Davao City, the "Nelson Type" jeepneys, known as "uso-uso", are manufactured, whose designs are totally different from the conventional style. They feature modern front grilles and body designs, lowered ride height, and industrial quality paint jobs. Newer models of Nelson type jeepneys are even chrome-plated, and use tubeless tires.

Toyota Van Style Jeepney
The jeepney industry has evolved much over the years since the jeepney was first used after the war. Today, many local builders are manufacturing more modern-looking jeepneys resembling AUVs, such as Honda CR-Vs, Hummer lookalikes, or an oversize Toyota van-style passenger jeepneys complete with Toyota headlights, hoods and bumpers. These new generation of jeepneys are usually equipped with high-powered sound systems, racing themes, and are now bigger and longer with more seating capacity, and some even have air-conditioning units.

Currently, there are two classes of jeepney builders in the Philippines: the backyard builders which produce 1 to 5 jeepneys a month, and source their die-stamped materials from manufacturers, and work with surplus diesel engines and chassis from salvage yards; the other type is the large volume manufacturers which have 2 subgroups, namely: the PUJ, or "public utility jeep," and the large volume metal-stamping companies that supply parts as well as produce complete vehicles.

Faced with increasing restrictions and regulations for pollution control, and high fuel costs, a limited number of locally built Electric jeepneys or "E-Jeepneys" are now being tested for commercial operation by the local city governments in some parts of the country, including Davao City, and some have already been plying various routes. Hailed as "The First Public Transport System Of Its Kind in South-East Asia," the concept was first introduced in response to environmental and economical concerns: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and the rise in oil prices.

E-Jeepneys are equipped with a 5 to 7 Kw, 72 to 84 volt electric motor, either with or without transmission, with front end hood and fender or none, side or rear entry and front-facing or center-facing rear seats. These can be charged by plugging into an electric socket, using power from biodegradable waste and can run a maximum speed of 40 kph, or a total of 120 kms on an 8-hour charge from an electric outlet.

The unique versatility of jeepneys allows for other various uses; among many others, these are:

Called "Owner Type Jeep" for Personal Use

Family Jeepney or for Private Use

Commercial Use Jeepney for transport of goods

Tourist Tram Jeepney

For School Bus

Visit to the Philippines will definitely not be complete without riding the King of the Philippine Roads.

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