A Walking Tour of Downtown Davao City

By Samuela Belibet/OpinYon Mindanao

Davao City is known for its nature getaways. But these aren't the only spots worth checking out. Fascinating walking destinations abound in the heart of the city as well.

Cinematheque Davao

Starting off at C. Bangoy Street, I walked along the muraled walls of Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Sr. Elementary School. Turning right at Palma Gil Street, not far from the intersection is Cinematheque Davao. A bronze statue of Lino Brocka, the National Artist for Film, will greet you upon entering the compound. Launched and inaugurated in 2012 by the Film Development Council of the Philippines and in partnership with the City Government of Davao led by Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, this 150-seater theater facility regularly showcases local and foreign films that are not shown in commercial cinemas. It's also a venue for programs geared towards local independent filmmakers, a thriving community here in Davao City.

Organic Trading Post

Within the compound of Cinematheque Davao is the Organic Trading Post led by the Agriculturists Multipurpose Cooperative, with the Association of Davao Organic Advocates, the Department of Agriculture, Davao City Local Government, and Davao City Agriculturist Office. Open Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the trading post is the city's response to the growing call of Dabawenyos for easier access to pesticide-free produce. Aside from in-season fruits and vegetables, items such as organic rice, minimally-processed herbal teas, organic rice coffee as well as potted plants are offered.

Davao's goods for sale at the Pasalubong Center.

Pasalubong Center

Right beside Cinematheque Davao is the Pasalubong Center. A two-story facility housing local concessionaires, it is a one-stop shop for regional souvenirs like malong, T'nalak and buri trinkets, bamboo and rattan home decor products, delicacies such as durian candies, artworks by local artists, musical instruments like the two-stringed lute called hegelong and the bamboo jaw harp called kubing. Bags, lunchboxes, aprons, and decorative vases upcycled from discarded food packaging are sold here as well.

The Durian Dome at the Davao People's Park

Davao People's Park

Walking straight from the Pasalubong Center and turning right into Pelayo Street, I checked out Davao People's Park next. After having my backpack inspected by the park rangers at the entrance, I proceeded to the visitor center, aptly named Durian Dome for its decorative dome roof resembling the spiky appearance of the king of fruits. After perusing the photo exhibit, I followed the colorful brick pathway to the Children's Library and Reading Center. Though relatively small, the facility is clean and well-maintained and carries a selection of children's books as well as magazines for the parents. By the library is a small gym facility as well.

The park is managed by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, and is just one of the many initiatives of the City Government of Davao that ensures the right of its population to a balanced ecology. With four hectares of land in the downtown area planted with more than a thousand species of plants, the park has been made home by a variety of birds. It's almost surreal that all you'd hear are chirping birds when a few meters away are bustling thoroughfares. Dotted with sculptures by Mindanawan artist Kublai Millan, featuring a massive koi pond, comprising of playground facilities, as well featuring a dancing fountain every night, People's Park is a refuge in a city that's gradually but certainly urbanizing.

Davao City street food

Davao Street Food

Conducting a walking tour for about three hours left me famished. Luckily there are numerous street food vendors along the sidewalks outside People's Park. I can certainly say that "kwek kwek" is Davao's staple street food. These are hardboiled eggs covered in orange batter, deep fried, then served hot with a generous helping of a tangy sauce. But Davao City's version is quite unique in that an order of kwek kwek actually comes with a side dish of salad with cucumbers and seaweeds, the latter locally known as "guso". The salad provides a fresh crunch as well as helps cut the oily taste of the fried batter.

End of Walking Tour

For someone who's trying to shun motorized transport for health and environmental reasons, one characteristic I always look for in a locale to visit is its walkability. Of course, pedestrian safety is utmost in my mind too. Thankfully Davao City downtown has all of these characteristics. Interesting destinations are in close proximity. You can also walk around downtown without fear of getting swept by cars, thanks to the strictly enforced 30 mph speed limit. And with a strong police presence and well-lit streets at night, you will feel safe while sight-seeing.

A video blog of the same title appears on Samuela Belibet's YouTube channel.

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Monday, 19 February 2018
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