Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016
(L-R clockwise) Malagos Chocolate, Sinuglaw by Penong's, Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps and Puto Maya
A puto maya vendor at the bankerohan of Davao City

I was prepared to treat Davao City as just a wedding venue of my cousin who was scheduled to be married early this September. I've never been to any destination in Mindanao even as I had scoped mainland Luzon for the past three years like a dust devil, so stepping foot in that part of the country was like traveling abroad for me. However, I had roughly three more days of free time to spend there which led me to discover just how delicious this city could be.

Davao is a new world for me where hunger pangs can be satiated in a heartbeat. Although highly urbanized, it's known for being home to the king and queen of all fruits in the country -- the durian and mangosteen, respectively. It's no wonder that it's called the Fruit Basket of the Philippines. As part of it is covered by Mount Apo, the climate there is never really hot during summer. Interestingly, it stays balanced with the elements even during Christmas season as a friend of mine who once studied there opined.

Misconceptions and Changes

Although a lot of Filipinos have a misconception of the city's location in terms of insurgencies happening elsewhere in Mindanao, the area did go through years of nefarious activities in the '70s, all the way to the early '80s, when it was dubbed by journalists as the country's murder capital. All that have changed, though, when Rodrigo Duterte stepped in as mayor and cleansed the city of its bad image. In one of my random commutes there, a Davaoeño taxi driver even shared that it was in Lanang where the then mayor started cleaning the city of rampant crimes.

The Davao City Hall
Davao International Airport
At the Rizal Park Stage where the air is fresh (The birds seem to agree!)
Statue of Dr. Jose Rizal which reminds me of a famous Duterte pose

The Central Communications and Emergency Response Center was launched in 2002 to serve as both a call center and a dispatch facility. As a result, the residents needing assistance were linked to the emergency resources of the government – the police, firefighters, medical workers, and rescue services. The numbers 9-1-1 were selected as the access number to the facility, making the city the third locality in the world to use 911 for emergency response after the United States and Canada. A year after, the Emergency Medical Services Unit, Urban Search and Rescue Unit, Fire Auxiliary Service Unit, and K-9 Unit were all added to the roster.

"The Central Communications and Emergency Response Center was launched in 2002 to serve as both a call center and a dispatch facility."

The traditional Filipino "pakimkim" or money dance during the wedding of my cousin
Delicious Destination

Booked at the Red Planet Hotels for a couple of nights, I went about being a respectful guest of the bride and groom for the wedding ceremony. I even had a hoot witnessing the religious tradition of "pakimkim" during the reception. Prior to the event, though, I checked out where the seafood hauls are usually displayed for buying in bulk and where travelers can eat on-the-go, on a tight budget for sharing with fellow travelers, and in a splurge for a luxurious dinner.

Strip of vegetable vendors at the bankerohan
A fish vendor with her supplies
A fruit vendor with his produce
Merchants with their tuna haul

The Early Morning Grind At The Bankerohan

As with all public markets in the country, the Bankerohan Public Market of Davao City is where the locals converge for their area's bounty. From various types of fish to a panoply of vegetables and fruits, it's considered to be the biggest of its kind in the city for being the drop-off point from different provinces in Mindanao. An abundance of fruits in season from lanzones, marang to other kinds can be purchased at low prices. Foreigners are usually the ones who are wide-eyed seeing a copious display of vegetables in different colors and still not cut up because they've been accustomed to buying their supplies abroad already packed.

I arrived at the bankerohan aboard a taxi that stopped at a good walking distance from the pulsating scene of local buyers and vendors, merchants in transit, and different peddlers of goods. It's a one-stop shop for bulk produce and other supplies, but it doesn't come with a map where everything can be conveniently accessed. For one thing, it's necessary to wear a decent footwear if you're mindful of iffy situations, especially on a drizzling day.

Snacking on Puto Maya at the bankerohan
Early morning activity at the bankerohan

You'd have to walk in different directions if you're a first-timer in the area to really have a good sense of where some goods are displayed. Located near the river banks is where the group of fish vendors are. There's also an indoor space for their fresh haul and it's where you can conveniently walk around next to those selling varieties of meat. Those selling fruits and veggies are the ones you will see first on your way down the belly of the scene.

"The best way to enjoy the market scenery while you're haggling for prices is by snacking on a banana leaf-wrapped puto maya..."

The best way to enjoy the market scenery while you're haggling for prices is by snacking on a banana leaf-wrapped puto maya, a sticky rice delicacy that's cooked in coconut milk and ginger and sprinkled with brown sugar for taste enhancement. Some prefer eating it with a hot cup of sikwate, a hot chocolate beverage made with locally produced pure cacao tablea.

Sinuglaw by Penong's
Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps in Lanang
Our busy table of seafood, fruit dessert, and sinuglaw at Penong's
Shrimp Garlic by Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps

Dining At Penong's and Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps

For a dining experience of the seafood variety and fresh vegetables that I saw at the bankerohan, I forced my parents to go out of the hotel and tagged them along to Penong's Barbecue Seafoods & Grill for lunch and to Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps for dinner.

Penong's Barbecue Seafoods & Grill is the local restaurant that a Davao relative recommended we try for being affordable. For being accessible with a total of eight branches in different parts of the city, there was no way we could miss such dining opportunity!

It turned out that most of the dishes in this open-air dining concept resto is also good for sharing. Access to rice is unlimited and every order comes with a free bowl of soup. Although it's popular in the city for its grilled food, we opted to order its crab and shrimp specialty called Seafoods Mandaragat that's good for sharing by three or four people. We also ordered a hefty plate of Sinuglaw, a Filipino dish that's popular for combining the cooking methods of sinugba (grilled) and kinilaw (prepared fresh in vinegar marinade).

Seafoods Mandaragat by Penong's
Shrimp Garlic by Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps
My plate of Penong's delights

For a semi-luxurious dinner, we opted to dine at Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps that's located in the commercial district of Lanang. It's conveniently a few blocks away from our booked rooms at the Red Planet Hotels anyway so a night stroll was in order.

Since I've already tried its crab specialties back in Manila when it opened its newest branch at the SM North EDSA's The Block, I made sure to order its shrimp specialty -- the Shrimp Garlic -- for a change. The bag where it's normally served was also loaded with corn cobs, potatoes, and sausages. The restaurant is conceptualized as a crabs and shrimp shack where diners can eat messy and have fun doing it, bib and all.

Malagos Chocolate, 65% dark chocolate
The Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity
The brutalist beauty of the San Pedro Cathedral
Snacking On Malagos Chocolate Before A City Tour

Back at the hotel, I decided to snack on a local product called Malagos Chocolate to keep myself awake for those hours when I had to tour the city on my own. This is because I was also on official business for my EE Club Magazine gig as Editor-In-Chief aside from attending a wedding. On a side trip of the city, I visited the city hall, the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal that's erected next to it, the Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity and the 1847-built San Pedro Cathedral which loomed at the area with its new brutalist beauty.

The single-origin, ethically produced chocolate bar is made from beans that are harvested at the foothills of Mount Talomo. Its collection can be purchased in 65%, 72%, and 85% dark chocolate variants. I bought mine at a nearby grocery but travelers can always buy one on a whim before one's flight at any of the airport's souvenir shops.

"The single-origin, ethically produced chocolate bar is made from beans that are harvested at the foothills of Mount Talomo."

There's a lot more to be had in Davao City when it comes to fulfilling one's craving. A revisit is definitely in the offing for me.

Booked at the Red Planet Hotels for a couple of restful nights
At the Blue Posts Boiling Crabs & Shrimps

Where to stay in Davao City when you're having a food trip?

Red Planet Hotels Davao For Value Stays
The Surprise of A Luxurious Davao City Stay Via The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites

Check out my post about the Aparri Public Market here.

More Photos Below:

An indoor fish stall at the bankerohan
Souvenir shop of local delights at the Davao International Airport
A random space at the bankerohan
Early morning activity at the bankerohan
A local busy with his upod at the bankerohan
The bankerohan of Davao City


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