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Why would anyone love to go to Davao?

Why would somebody who’ve been to Davao a lot of times would still look forward to the next visit, which, if at all possible, would be in the immediate future, like, the following month after the most recent visit? Why is a visit to Davao never enough and staying longer would be very tempting if not for some constraints?

In my own experience, whenever I have the chance to go to Davao with my husband or with the whole family, there’s always a wishful thinking that:

1.  if only my own town/province  is like this;
2.  if only I feel safe walking late at night in the streets of Manila, just like here;
3.  if only military and police visibility in every corner are also implemented in my own town/province; or to stress this point
4.  if only military and police visibility will make me feel safe instead of getting freaked out if it’s implemented in Manila.

Going back to Manila after a short stay in Davao will feel like forcing yourself to go back to reality, that is, the reality that sadly, you’re not a true-blooded Davaoeño.

I didn’t say that the city is perfect, far from it. Traffic in the main roads of Davao is bad, what with the implementation of 30 kms per hour speed limit, add to that the heavy volume of vehicles. The speed limit, which is unreasonable for some, was implemented after a series of accidents in the past. There were complaints especially from the taxi and jeepney drivers who lost a big chunk of their income because it took them longer to reach their destinations, therefore, less opportunities to get more passengers.

Taking public transportation, especially the jeepney, is a challenge. And when we’re there, we don’t take taxis. We ride the jeepneys because that’s how you will experience being a local. The only problem is, some jeepneys have very narrow leg room and it’s very difficult to go up or down, you have to squeeze your body in between the passengers if you want to be able to seat comfortably, that’s why it’s no wonder that my husband always complains of back pain whenever he gets back from a business trip.

But for me, the good side far outweighs the bad, and as a parent, that’s very important.
So, what’s with Davao that you would wish to stay there and settle for good?

1.  Parents are not scared that their daughters might be kidnapped after being lured or forced into a van which is becoming to be frighteningly common in Metro Manila;
2.  A Mayor who commands respect, admiration and obedience from his constituents;
3.  Affordable cost of living;
4.  Confidently riding a taxi without fear of sniffing drugs that will make you lose consciousness or worse kill you;
5.  Having a curfew in which business establishments are mandated to stop serving liquor by 1:00am.  Business establishments have to comply, otherwise, as what Mayor Duterte always say, “you have no place in Davao if you don’t follow the rules of the city”.  People have just learned to adjust their party hours.
6.  The Anti-Smoking Ordinance which has been in effect for 13 years now.  Smokers are only allowed to smoke in their private residences, private cars and designated outdoor smoking areas.

That’s how I look at Davao.  First and foremost on my list is the peace and order situation.  The other reasons are:

1.  the awesome smell of durian as soon as I step out of the airport and  eating unlimited durian, of course. Anything durian: shake, ice cream, and the latest is the durian donut by GoNuts Donuts.

2.  eating pomelo and mangosteen;

3.  riding the ferry boat going to the  Samal island,  which we haven’t fully explored yet; for now, my favorite is the Hagimit falls;

4.  shopping at the Aldevinco shopping center.  A visit to Davao is not complete unless I visit this place to buy a little something to take home with me.  A piece of shawl, a shirt, or a bag would be enough for me.

5.   full body massage at very affordable cost. After a tiring day of walking around the city, a massage is definitely a welcome treat, and this place is my husband’s favorite.

6.   eat-all-you can lunch and dinner at Php149 per person;

7.   very affordable fresh fruits, vegetables, seafoods;

8.  the people and their accent, I love listening to their local dialect;
9.   I just love it that for the locals, their preferred mall is their local mall, that is, the Gaisano mall, and not the SM’s big malls. Oh, I didn’t say that they don’t go to SM or Ayala malls, there are in fact different types of crowds in each of those malls, but, as what my husband said, SM or Ayala have no chance of putting the Gaisano malls out of business in Davao or in Mindanao for that matter;
10.  Going to the countryside to enjoy the unlimited view of rich forests, untouched, preserved, and well-taken cared of.

What's Binondo To You?

What comes to mind when you hear of Binondo?  Chinatown, Calesa, Tikoy, Divisoria, bargain items, food tripping.  Yes, food tripping! There are lots of restaurants around Binondo for all food lovers: conservative, conventional, or adventurous ones, you wouldn’t be disappointed.  We’ve been to Binondo countless of times.  That’s where we park — near the Binondo Church, or the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz — whenever we go to Divisoria.  We’d rather walk  going to 168 Mall than brave the traffic and park inside the mall.  The downside is when we have lots of purchases, we have to walk all the way back, so there was one instance when we were really tired, we took a pedicab and had to shell out Php60 just to reach our parking area.  Binondo and Divisoria for us are  synonymous to business opportunities.  That’s where we buy our reams of paper for our notepads, water bottles,  boxes for our cakes and cupcakes, various raw materials and equipments for our two online businesses, Homespun from the Heart and Artsy Cakes and Cupcakes.

Our recent favorite restaurant whenever we go to Binondo is the Sincerity Cafe and Restaurant. Our first visit there was so heartwarming.  Why?  Because of the plate.  I really had to take photo of the plate.  It brought back childhood memories because I remember having the exact same color and design when I was a child.  What’s their specialty?  The fried chicken!  I really love their fried chicken. For me, the chicken is enough, no need to check on their menu, although they have varied options.  But today, when we went to Binondo to purchase some additional toys (a.ka. equipment) for our business,  we tried their Oyster Cake.  It was good, really good. The serving was big, which, I think is good enough for 3 to 4 persons.  The price is very reasonable, the place is clean and the service is good.

It was almost 7:00pm when we finished our transaction in the nearby shop.  Too bad because the Eng bee Tin was already closed.  I wanted to buy Tikoy.  I always crave for Tikoy whenever we go to Binondo.  For me, Binondo is also synonymous to Tikoy.  Oh well, next time… there is always a next time.


A Milo Swimming Certificate, Finally!

It’s never too late for Faye.  Every year, every summer, we always try to convince her to attend formal swimming lessons, but she kept on saying she didn’t need it because she knows how to swim already (very basic, courtesy of her Tito Edmund), although I know that her primary reason was, she didn’t want to be exposed to too much heat.  There was even one summer when we tried to look for a covered pool but we couldn’t find any that was within our vicinity, so more summer vacations have passed and she still didn’t have her formal swimming lessons.  But since her Dad and I really want her to be a good swimmer just like her kuya and ate, we never stopped encouraging her  to attend swimming lessons, and this year, she finally relented, although the “art of convincing” was made weeks before the official summer vacation started.  I had to do it in a subtle way, dropping hints every now and then, until finally she agreed to do it this year.  She would have wanted to start the lessons before our Coron trip because she said it might boost her confidence during boat rides,  but the dates will make her miss some of the lessons, so she just took the last schedule for the summer, which started right after we got back from our vacation.  The host resort was the Kalugdan Resort near our place and her ate Izah kindly agreed to accompany her which was good because she also able to practice and do some laps during the latter part of Faye’s sessions.  The place was good for swimming lessons because they have a 25-meter pool, but since it was the first time that their resort was utilized for summer lessons, some rules were still not in place and they were not that flexible in terms of scheduling and rates, and the parents/guardians were not even given a proper waiting area and we even had to move several times just to accommodate their other guests.

Faye’s basic lessons helped her a lot since she didn’t have difficulty following the instructions of her coach. She was always asked to be the first one to demonstrate to the other students.  The supposed to be ten days 1 hour per day lessons were squeezed into 5 days 2 hours per day.  During the handing out of the certificates, we were so proud and happy because Faye was able to do the butterfly stroke and the coach even said that she has a potential to be a very good swimmer.

Because of this nice experience, I think for the next summer vacation, we wouldn’t have a hard time convincing her to join the Advanced Swimming Lessons.



Family Fun on a Budget

You can have fun with your family without breaking the bank.  Kids can easily adjust to almost anything, so, you wouldn’t have to worry about it.  Here are some tips to consider:
Find a cheap spot.  This can be anything, like a trip to the beach which charges a minimal fee.  You can bring your own food and drinks.  Spending the whole morning till lunch at the beach for only $5 and gasoline is sure a cheap way to have fun with the whole family.
Trade in the skillet for the grill.  Make a conscious effort to cut down on beef and pork, and have more fish and vegetable dishes. Also, plan more grilled food, which lessens the use of cooking gas and oil, and makes for healthier eating in the process.

Dine out.  You don’t have to go to a restaurant to eat out. You can set up a table and chairs in the garden for dinner under the stars. It will be  a real treat for everyone.

Enjoy the outdoors.  You can go to a vacant lot to play ball or badminton for free. Or you can go family biking in a park.  

Premium on storytelling time.  Revive the tradition of storytelling – it doesn’t cost much and it enriches young minds. In addition to reading fairy tales and children’s books, you can also share true stories of yourself, your partner, the kids’ grandparents, and other close relatives.

Time for a long-overdue massage

The last time we had a massage was when we went to Davao last August.  Yes, that was 3 months ago!   Though we rarely do this on a regular basis, like we are supposed to do, aching muscles, shoulder pain, and back pain, tell us that this is a long overdue treat.  No, we didn’t go to Boracay just to have this much-needed massage.  The spa was just a few minutes drive from our place, and it offers special packages for members.  After about one hour and a half, we went home feeling relaxed and de-stressed.  I really think we should do this more often.