For years, Mindanao, the eastern most region of the Philippines has been known as the war capital of the country. Most travel companies and other countries advised tourists the dangers of travelling within this territory. This region has been home of terrorists, guerrillas and militants due to the vast jungles and limited population that provides them a better chance in hiding and a better way to combat the Philippine Arm Forces. However, what most of us don’t understand or know is the beauty Mindanao has to offer.
I’m always afraid to travel to this region because of travel advisories and warnings, but as a human, we tend to always challenge ourselves and work or do things that most people wouldn’t risk doing. To make things short, I went to Davao, a city located in the southern part of Mindanao. It’s a big city; it is even referred to as the world’s biggest city though it has a small downtown.
As I was on the bus for a four travel to Davao from Koronadal, a small city in the Southern part of Mindanao, I was praying that my tour will be fine and that it will be safe. I was so surprised seeing the place. I’m definitely shocked with what I experienced, I am expecting a place that is rotten or does not have economic growth, a place where each person carries a gun and will look at you with suspicion.
But what I saw is a place booming with development. You’ll see buildings, markets, malls, etc. which are signs of economic growth. Above all this, I saw smiling and peace loving people. I was unequivocally relieved thanking that God answered my prayers. I later found out that the Davao has been proclaimed as the most peaceful city in Southeast Asia and that I made a fool of myself.
Aside from a wide array of modern urban amenities, Davao is a melting pot of diverse people, religion and culture. This is a place where you can see Moslems and Christians living together peacefully. It also offers a vast selection of fruits and seafood’s. White sand beaches, waterfalls, exotic animals and mountains are just around the corner.
I really enjoyed my 3 weeks stay in the city. I was able to go on an island hopping in the island of Samal, a small island 45 minutes away from the mainland of Davao through a boat. It boosts a cluster of white sand beaches, virgin and undisturbed diving sites, shipwrecks and a pearl farm.
It also showcases a vertical cave and a series of falls. Three hours away from Davao is Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines. It takes 3 days to hike this giant. It was an active volcano before but now is considered dormant. The hike itself is a great adventure and you’ll get to see exotic animal, plants and flowers. This is the first time I have seen a true and alive Rafflesia and it was amazing. The peak of Mt. Apo presents a different kind of feeling and I can’t compare it with anything else. Outland Adventure, the largest ropes course facility in the Philippines, situated in a sanctuary within Davao metropolitan itself.
This facility is known to have the fastest and longest zip line in Asia and that ride is definitely my most blood rushing experience ever. One of the best dining places I’ve ever visited is Jack’s Ridge, which is located at the top of a hill. The idea is to have a coffee shop, dining place and park within a forest within a hill top. It has a cozy ambiance where you may have a romantic date while listening to live bands or just enjoying the fresh air while overlooking the beautiful lights of the city.
There are a thousand things that can be done within Davao and I guarantee that you’ll absolutely enjoy. Truly Davao is a magnificent place and for me it’s a paradise within a war torn zone. I just hope that Davao will move further for economic development and maintain its peace loving outlook.
Though Mindanao’s face has been painted with fear and unending war and terrorism, there are places within it that hope and pray that someday peace will come their way. Thankfully, I took a risked and I experienced the best things in life. Doubtlessly, I will be back in this peaceful, lovely and beautiful place.