Travel News and Features

Ilocos Salt,
Pebbles and

Ilocos Norte

El Nido,
Instant Philippines

Ilocos offers its salt, pebbles and fabric
By Vicky Florendo

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Images from Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet Edition

IN THE LAND of tobacco, salt-making and woven fabrics also exist.

Salt-making in Pasuquin is traditionally a family business. It has since become a
lucrative industry for the people of this small town north of Ilocos Norte.

A 10-minute drive from the boundary of Bacarra, and the smell and sight of salt is
unmistakable. On both sides of the main thoroughfare, there are makeshift huts that
serve as crude-processing centers for the Pasuquin salt-makers.

Salt-making seems like a relatively easy process, but such is not always the case.
The procedure is simple but the actual labor is difficult.

Salt-makers get water, either from the nearby beaches of Pasuquin or even as far
as Pangasinan, and place this into the salt beds. They then wait for the salted water to evaporate under the sun. This is why during the rainy season salt-making is futile.

Upon drying, the salted water becomes dried residue or rock salt. It
is then brought back to the huts and processed in two vats.

In the first vat, water is poured onto the rock salt, which is then boiled
and melted until the coarseness diminishes and the salt is finer in
texture. In the second vat, the same process of pouring, boiling and melting is repeated.

This process takes 12 hours. After more than half-a-day's work, refined
salt is achieved.

On an average, a salt-maker can produce five sacks of refined salt in a day.
A sack of rock salt would sell for P120, a sack of refined salt P220.

Guiding the entrepreneur

Also in Pasuquin, locals collect pebbles from the beach, reefs
and the sea. Not just ordinary pebbles, they come in different
shapes and sizes. These the locals collect in jars. A big jar sells
for P80-P100. Most buyers are Taiwanese tourists.

An interesting but not surprising fact about Ilocos is the influx of
Taiwanese visitors. Geography may play a major role, as Taiwan is very
near the region. But then, with the beauty and splendor of Ilocos, it is
easy to see why tourists frequent it.

South of Pasuquin is Paoay, which is home not only to several scenic
spots but also to a budding industry: loom-weaving.

Bagnos in Ilocano means ''to guide.'' In this town, it also means
''a training center.'' The Ilocos Norte Training Center is named
Bagnos because it aims to guide the Ilocano entrepreneur in
designing, packaging and marketing their products.

Intended beneficiaries of the center are outofÄschool youths,
students and other enterprising individuals and cooperatives.
Enrolees are required to fill out an application form and pay a
refundable reservation fee of P50. Upon completion of the free
training seminars, the participant can ask for the refund and is
awarded a certificate of completion.

Materials required for the workshop may either be brought or
bought from the center, at cost, by the participant.

Areas of training are pottery and ceramics, basketry, crafts, art
and design, and, of course, weaving.

Toward extinction

Before this effort, the loom-weaving industry was fast
approaching extinction. Whereas there were about 100,000
weavers in the past, today there are only 500, 60 percent of
which are people above 40.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. saw the
need to revive the ailing but otherwise profitable business, and
established Bagnos.

The center is divided into three areas. The ground floor houses
a museum on weaving and an exhibit of Ilocano products.
Weavers in action are also in this area.

The second floor is the artists' gallery and working area. The
fully equipped training center is in the garden area. The kiln for
pottery-making and the dyeing area for abel iloco (Ilocano
woven fabric) are also in this part of Bagnos.

A cafe a la Baguio's Cafe by the Ruins, Conrad's Cafe, is located
directly outside the training center.

A remarkable addition in the garden area is a small room that
serves as a kind of library. It holds 65 videotapes on anything
and everything, from meat-processing to dry flower-making,
which a visitor may borrow and watch in the training center.

Bagnos had its soft opening last July 8 but will be fully operational in August.
The center is under the maintenance and supervision of lecturer Aida Fernandez.

Says weaver Lilia Pacada, who earns an average of P150 a day: ''I have been
weaving for almost 30 years now. My family was in the business before.''

The procedure of making the weaving thread starts with the
picking of cotton balls for a long process that includes ginning,
pounding, spinning, warping, etc., until the thread is ready for

The local government has big plans for the weaving industry. In
preparation is a fashion show titled ''Abel Iloco,'' which
showcases and promotes the Ilocano fabric. Jojie Lloren, Rajo
Laurel, Gerry Katigbak, Michi Calica and Randy Ortiz have been
tasked to create an entire collection using abel iloco.

July 23, 1999

from Philippine Inquirer Internet Edition

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Paoay Church: UN heritage site up for restoration
By Kira Espino

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LIFE is bound to change for residents of Paoay, Ilocos Norte, since the St.
Augustine Church, or what is popularly known as Paoay Church,
has been inscribed in the World Heritage List of the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

As part of that list, the church would be protected by the
Unesco World Heritage Convention, an international law signed
by 112 countries.

The church, which was completed in 1710 after 16
years of construction, would undergo restoration under the
auspices of Unesco.

The Paoay Church is ''internationally acknowledged as one of
the most unique examples of Filipino architecture from the
Spanish period,'' says Augusto Villalon, Unesco commissioner
for cultural heritage.

Villalon says the church's architecture is an example of the
blending of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish cultures that is
unique to the Philippines.

A master plan will be drawn up to govern the development of
the church and its surrounding area.

Architect Rene Mata, project director, says the plan will protect
the church from the ''encroachment of uncontrolled

''Nobody can just put up any high-rise building around the
church unless we follow the rules and regulations of the master
plan,'' he said during a seminar-workshop on the restoration of
the church held in Paoay last month.

The plan will also regulate the flow of tourists in the town.

Guidelines will be formulated by the National Commission on
Culture and the Arts, National Historical Institute, the Paoay
municipal government and the Paoay parish church.

Mata said the townfolk would be crucial in preserving the
church. He said the church's maintenance would be the
responsibility of those who own it as nobody else would do it.

They would first do research and documentation in preparation
for a scientific restoration, he said.

The residents will also have to prepare for the possible effects
of tourism on their town. According to a workshop material
provided by Villalon, a World Heritage listing has been proven
to bring in tourists.

''Paoay must prepare for the increase in tourists by
strengthening its heritage architecture and the special Paoay
culture. If Paoay loses its character and becomes like any other
generic town in the Philippines, its unique charm will be gone
forever with its tourist market,'' Villalon, vice chair of the NCCA
committee on monuments and sites, said.

Establishments surrounding the church are bakeries, sari-sari
stores, mini-groceries and small carinderias (eateries) selling
empanadas, a native delicacy.

Like any endeavor, problems also beset the plan to preserve the
Paoay Church.

According to Mata, among the problems they are facing are the
lack of funds for the restoration and inadequate archival records
describing the church's original appearance and the town's
involvement in the plan. The latter is their biggest problem, he

Mata said they were planning to talk with town elders to gather
data on their recollection on the church's appearance and its
role in the community.

Like going to heaven

''Nagpintas idi kua. Kasla agpaypayso nga inca idiay langit
(It was so beautiful then. When you're inside the church, it was
as if you were really destined for heaven),'' said Feliza Dumlao,
an 82-year-old Paoaye?a, said.

Recalling how the altar of the St. Augustine Church looked like
when she was young, Dumalo said the ceiling's color was
sky-blue and it was painted with clouds.

Dumlao, a cantora or church singer, said the communion rails
on both sides of the altar should be restored. The steps of the
altar used to have silver candle holders on its sides, she said.

Pastora Tabije, 79, also said there were steps leading to the
crucifix on the altar. ''The steps were like terraces,'' she said.

Tabije is a sister of a former parish priest in Paoay. She can still
recall the church designs because it was during her brother's
stay that the church's roof was replaced.

The statue of St. Augustine, she said, used to stand on the
former site of the crucifix.

Dumlao and Tabije said the modifications of the altar were
ordered by former first lady Imelda Marcos.

''Pinagbalbaliwan ni First Lady Imelda Marcos idi Cristo Rey
(The First Lady Imelda Marcos changed its design during the
Cristo Rey feast),'' Dumlao said.

Cristo Rey is the Christ the King celebration held on the last
Sunday of the liturgical year, usually in November.

Tabije said her brother-priest had a shouting match with the
men hired by Marcos who were trying to remove the posts from
the altar.

However, during the seminar-workshop on the church
restoration, it was learned that the posts were not original
structures but were put up during Tabije's term to support the

Old-timers also recalled that bats had lived inside the sacristy
where one could smell guano (bat droppings).

'Earthquake Baroque'

Based on the nomination dossier submitted to Unesco, the
church is considered as the most outstanding variant of the
''earthquake Baroque.''

In the description and inventory, Jorge Gazanco, an expert of
the International Committee on Monuments and Sites, was all
praises for the Filipino and Chinese craftsmen, architects and
priests who built the church.

''These were men of God, not architects, who could only rely on
memories of Baroque churches seen in Spain or Latin America
when giving instructions to build Philippine churches,'' he said.

''Thus, intentionally, these friar-builders and their native
craftsmen reinterpreted the European Baroque to establish a
peripheral Baroque style, deceptively Western in appearance
but totally Philippine in spirit and context,'' he added.

The construction of the church began in 1694 and was
completed in 1710. It was commissioned by the Augustinian

Materials used in building the church included baked bricks,
coral rocks, sablot (tree sap) and lumber.

Unlike other bell towers in the country, the Paoay Church's coral
stone belltower is detached from its main building. The church
has 24 curved buttresses.

The Paoay Church was declared a national treasure by then
President Ferdinand Marcos, an Ilocano, through Presidential
Decrees 250, 375 and 1505.

However, restoration funds were not made available through
these decrees.

Earthquakes damaged portions of the church in 1865 and 1885.
However, these portions were repaired immediately.

The belltower was used by the Katipuneros as on observation
post in 1896 and again by Filipino soldiers during World War II.

According to Mata, several Filipino churches were nominated
for the Unesco World Heritage List but only four were chosen.
These are the St. Augustine or Paoay Church; Santa Maria de la
Asuncion Church in Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur; San Agustin Church
in Intramuros, Manila; and the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church
in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

But Mata said that if the Paoay Church would not be
maintained, the church could be removed from the list.
Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet edition
June 29, 1999

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Save this paradise
By Mayet C. Culibao

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EL NIDO, Palawan--Situated in the northwestern tip of this island province,
El Nido or ''The Nest'' is aptly described as a pristine paradise.
Bounded in the west, north and east by a
deep blue sea teeming with marine life, this town hosts a rich
variety of flora and fauna.

Towering black limestone cliffs dominate its landscape. About 30
small but imposing limestone islands with uncommon formations jut out
from the waters of Bacuit Bay.

In the caves and crevices of these limestone cliffs nestle the
balinsasayaw or swiftlets. These small and medium-sized black birds
with pointed wings build white edible nests--made up mostly of dried saliva
and some plant materials--which are the main ingredient in the exotic and
expensive Chinese nido soup.

Chinese traders have been regularly visiting the town for its
famous edible nests long before the Spaniards conquered the
archipelago. According to Diokno Manlavi's ''History of
Palawan,'' El Nido's ''cliffs that 'rise as steep as the walls of
houses' have been mentioned in Chinese narratives as early as

In 1984, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
declared 12 of the town's 18 barangays a marine reserve. Five of
eight marine turtle species in the world are found in this

It is one of the four protected areas in Palawan, which include
Coron Island, the crown jewel farther up north; Malampaya
Sound, the so-called fishing bowl of the Philippines in Taytay
municipality, some 28 kilometers south of El Nido; and the St.
Paul Subterranean Park, a major tourist-drawer in Puerto

For tourists, El Nido's natural beauty and rich land and water
resources are a feast for the senses. But for its 40,000
households, 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line,
these are a primary source of income.


Early in the year, the local economy bustles with opportunities.

Migratory squid and tuna enter the Bacuit Bay, adding to the
fishermen's regular bountiful catch of bisugo (red gilthead) and
tanigue (Spanish mackerel).

Blast and cyanide fishing were rampant here in the late 1970s,
especially near the island of Lalutaya. Vice Mayor Edwin Vidal
said fishermen from Mindoro, Quezon and Batangas used to
break into the bay and apply these illegal methods. Fortunately,
they have been contained.

In April, farmers start harvesting cashew nuts, the town's
second principal agricultural product next to palay. Here,
farmers plant crops on mountain slopes because of the rolling
terrain and limited flat land . Some still engage in slash-and-burn

By now the nido gathering season shall have begun. Teenagers
scale the jagged edges of the limestone cliffs with bare hands
and feet, minus any protective harness, in search of the coveted
white edible nest.

According to Vice Mayor Vidal, the going rate for the so-called
''white gold'' is P110,000 a kilo. Ever since the risky business
started in this town, it has claimed two lives, he said.

Another source of income is local and foreign tourism. Mostly,
diving and snorkeling enthusiasts troop to El Nido's four
upscale island resorts and 10 modest resorts and cottages in the

All is well for now, but with the increasing pressure of
unregulated tourism and destructive use of land and water
resources, El Nido might soon become a troubled and depleted


To preserve El Nido's natural beauty and resources,
community-based conservation and ecodevelopment tourism
programs were launched by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction
Movement last Feb. 27.

The ceremony, held in the town plaza surrounded by limestone
cliffs, was attended by Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz Araneta,
Quezon Rep. and now PRRM president Wigberto Ta?ada,
dignitaries from the governments of the Netherlands and Spain,
and provincial and local officials.

Established in 1952, the PRRM is a non-government
organization working on alternative and sustainable community
and habitat development programs nationwide. It is one of the
oldest and perhaps the biggest NGO in the country, with a staff
of more than 300 workers trained in various disciplines.

''We focus on the basic needs of the community, in rural
reconstruction. I was convinced to join the PRRM and to accept
the responsibility of being its new president because I want to
do what I can to promote rural development,'' Ta?ada said.

PRRM project coordinator Gregorio Dionisio said the
organization was in the process of introducing ''ecologically
sustainable livelihood opportunities that will wean the
community away from destructive resource extraction.''

With the $1-million grant from the government of the
Netherlands, the PRRM will train the community to engage in
livelihood projects such as ecotourism, non-timber forest
products extraction (like vines, orchids, flowers, and honey),
sustainable agriculture, and non-destructive fishing methods.

Dionisio warned that if slash-and-burn farming and planting on
mountain slopes continued, siltation would overcome Bacuit
Bay and coral reefs would be destroyed.

''We will teach them to utilize the present agricultural land more
efficiently and sustainably through the use of organic fertilizer,''
he said.

The PRRM also intends to introduce seaweed farming to
fishermen as an alternative to destructive blast and cyanide

However, Dionisio said, all the funding and efforts for these
five-year projects would be rendered useless without a strong,
organized community.

Since 1997, the PRRM has been concentrating on building and
strengthening organizations of nest gatherers, women, youth,
cooperatives, government workers, etc. and on training local
leaders to ensure the projects' sustainability.

Ta?ada said the program did not involve the usual dole-outs.

''The participation of the community, of the individual, is vital.
This program is community- and people-centered. It's not just
growth-centered, wherein the benefits hardly reach the grass
roots,'' he said.

Tourism Secretary Araneta pointed out that the success of El
Nido's tourism development and cultural preservation lay in the
hands of its local officials.

She challenged Mayor Edna Lim and the members of the
Sangguniang Bayan to take the lead in the town's development
and promotion as a prime ecotourism destination.

''We applaud and support the objective of conserving the
island's unique natural resources,'' Araneta said.

''Tourism development sensitive to the environment is the way
for us to go--especially in the remaining frontiers of the


Because of the town's remoteness, El Nido has remained
underdeveloped. Fourteen of its 18 barangays are still without

Farmer Ranulfo Monhi, 45, and his family have been living in
Sitio Simpian, Barangay Aberawan, for almost 30 years.

Simpian is 25 kilometers away from the poblacion, or two hours
away via a bone-jarring jeepney ride along the rutted El
Nido-Taytay road.

The Monhis used to rely on the power supplied by a generator
owned by a relative. They pay P50 a month for the use of one
bulb between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. But since Dec. 18, his home has
been well lit by three solar-powered bulbs, which can be used
until the wee hours of the morning for no extra cost.

The family is one of Simpian's 57 beneficiaries of the pilot solar
energy project launched recently by the PRRM and the
government of Spain.

The two-year project aims to provide renewable,
non-conventional and affordable sources of electricity to El
Nido's far-flung barangays and sitios that the Palawan Electric
Cooperative's service cannot reach.

Some 300 households in Barangays Aberawan and Bagong
Bayan will be provided with household photovoltaic power
through the installation of street lights.

At present, 81 families in the two barangays are enjoying the
benefits of photovoltaic solar energy.

All the equipment are imported from Spain and tested as

The solar panel, on which residents sometimes lay fish for
drying, is expected to last up to 25 years or more. The solar
battery can be used for five to 10 years and the bulbs' life span
is five years or more.

Bagon Bayan chair Rodolfo Veguilla was all praise for solar
energy. Indeed, it is less costly and does not cause air or noise

Now, he noted, residents could work in the rice fields even after
sunset, courtesy of the illumination provided by the newly
installed solar-powered lamp posts.

For the project, the PRRM charged each household a P3,300
counterpart fund.

The Spanish organization IPADL could have provided the
equipment and the services for free. But it noted that based on
experience, people tended to neglect anything they did not pay

Members are also required to contribute P50 a month to their
organization for maintenance expenses.

Big picture

Looking at the big picture, Ta?ada said NGO efforts such as this
were significant because they addressed ''the roots of social
unrest and armed conflict: poverty, injustice and inequity, not
only economic but also political.''

''I believe that in the long run, these will help in the attainment of
peace,'' he said.

He lamented the recent breakdown of the peace talks between
the government and the communist-led National Democratic
Front, and urged both panels to go back to the negotiating

''When they learn about successful NGO efforts like this, which
was achieved with the cooperation of the local government
units as well as the private sector, their attitude might change,''
he said.

''We are all fully aware that we lack the resources to address our
numerous problems, and if we will not unite, it will take us long
to achieve progress.

''It's time to get our act together. We cannot ignore politics or
our personal interests, but perhaps we can prioritize the interest
of the greater majority.''
Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet edition
May 30, 1999

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For a great holiday, check out what they call 'Instant Philippines'
Text and photos
By Henrylito D. Tacio

SO you've heard all the talk about Davao and are raring to go there
someday. Why not do it now?

This provincial capital in Mindanao seems to offer every
superlative an exhausted Asian urbanite could want in a
holiday--without the hassles of mass tourism (yet).

''Davao is probably the least exposed of the country's urban
areas, and its most appealing,'' contends Gregory C. Ira, a
Filipino-American who, along with his family, visited the city
last year.

''It's a great holiday hideaway, what with its lush greenery and
exotic wild flora and fauna that contribute to its picturesque

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The name Davao is derived
from the ancient Bagobo word
which means ''fire.''
On the other hand, the
Tagabua tribe called the river
bisecting the region ''
Daba,'' and
the Guiangan tribe tagged it
Davoh''-- thus Davao.

Because this tropical paradise possesses more of everything there is in a
country--from enchanting scenery to natural resources--Davao is often
considered ''instant Philippines.''

Local historians claim that the name Davao is derived
from the ancient Bagobo word daba-daba, which means ''fire.''

On the other hand, the Tagabua tribe called the river bisecting the region ''Daba,'' and
the Guiangan tribe tagged it ''Davoh''--thus Davao.

Davao was founded by a Spanish expedition led by Jose
Oyanguren in 1848. He named the village Nueva Vergara after
his hometown in Spain. In 1937, Davao became a chartered city
when President Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippine
Commonwealth signed into law a bill sponsored by then Davao
Assemblyman Romualdo Quimpo.

With a total land area of 244,000 hectares, Davao is considered
the largest city in the world. It is a melting pot of 1.2 million
people, both indigenous and migrants now being acculturated
into the mainstream of society, creating a unique cosmopolitan

Visayan migrants make up the majority of the population.
Ilongos and llocanos also abound. Coexisting with these
different Filipino groups are the Muslims and the indigenous
tribes such as the Bagobos (who prefer to be called Tagabawa),
Mandayas, Manobos, Mansakas, B'laans, Kalagans and T'bolis.


Mount Apo, at 3,144 meters above sea level, is the country's
highest peak. It lies on the borders of Davao, North Cotabato
and Bukidnon and reaches as far as Agusan del Sur and
Misamis Oriental.

''The volcanic peak Apo, which dominates a vast area of 72,796
hectares, provides a spectacular variety of natural landscapes
from forest greens and sulfur pillars to majestic waterfalls and
untamed rivers,'' said Benjamin B. Mallorca, Jr., an Apo trek
organizer in Kidapawan City.

Last Holy Week, I tried to scale Apo along with three friends.
During our nine-hour hike, we saw a display of nature at its best
and primeval state: lush tropical forest dotted with hot and cold
springs, hidden waterfalls cascading with a thunderous roar,
mystical orchids and wild flowers, soul-refreshing symphonies
of cicadas and God's other little creatures.

Davao offers wildlife lovers the rare opportunity to see the
world's second largest eagle at the Philippine Eagle
Conservation camp.

Thirty kilometers northwest and about an hour's ride from
downtown Davao, the camp is the transient home of the
magnificent Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi). Here, a
dozen male and female eagles are being induced to breed in

In 1992, the camp was successful in hatching its first
eaglet--Pag-asa (meaning ''hope'' in Filipino), the very first
tropical eagle bred in captivity and hatched scientifically.

''Pag-asa connotes hope for the continued survival of the
Philippine eagle, hope that if people get together for its cause, it
shall not be doomed to die,'' says Dennis Salvador, executive
director of the Philippine Eagle Conservation Programme

Though the Philippine eagle is the star, other creatures which
can be seen close up at the camp include hawks, owls, pythons,
deer, monkeys and a huge Philippine crocodile.


Davao is also home to the exquisite waling-waling (Vanda
sanderana). Also endemic to Cotabato, the waling-waling has
been touted as the queen of the Philippines and is worshipped
as a diwata (goddess) by the native Bagobos.

Between the years since Frederick Sanders introduced the
waling-waling to orchid enthusiasts and lovers in London in
1882, it has influenced another thousand or more colorful and
attractive vandaceous hybrids that are now part of the world's
multibillion-dollar orchid and cutflower industry.

''Dabawenyos did not realize that the orchids gathered from the
foothills of Mount Apo could be the single biggest source of
dollars for the government today had the industry been
developed here in the first place,'' observed Eleuterio Fuentes, a
university professor whose love for and obsession with
orchid-growing have made him an expert on the subject matter.

During the administration of President Corazon Aquino, Davao
was proclaimed the orchid center of the Philippines
(Proclamation No. 886). After all, Davao is home to three of the
country's biggest commercial orchid operations--the Greenhills
Orchids of Johnny and Fanny Yuhico in Catalunan Pequeno,
the Worldwide Derling Orchid Corp. of Tony and Derling
Alvarez in Bajada, and the Puentespina Orchid Gardens of
Roberto and Carita Puentespina in Agdao.

Other noted orchid farms thriving in the city include the Sul
Orchids in Maa, Chua's Orchid Garden in Mintal, and Gumban's
Orchids in Lanang.

The Mindanao Federation of Cutflower and Plant Growers Inc.,
an umbrella organization of cooperatives in the flower industry
made up of more than 400 individual growers, also has its own
''display booth'' in Barrio Pampanga, Sasa.


Davao is also noted for durian, that ''heaven-and-hell'' fruit.

''Most foreigners who come here are surprised to know that
durian thrives well in this part of the world,'' said American
missionary Harold R. Watson, who has lived in the city since
the 1960s.

Durian (Durio zibenthinus) is common throughout Southeast
Asia, particularly Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. In the
Philippines, durian grows only in Mindanao. It is also an
important crop in Vietnam and Burma.

The fruit is famous for its odor. Most people say it stinks, but to
some, its aroma can be compared to a perfume.

''It smells like hell and tastes like heaven'' is how some
Westerners describe the fruit. Most airlines won't allow it on
board aircraft. Singapore, so orderly that it bans chewing gum,
bans durian from its subway stations and trains.

The English writer W. Somerset Maugham compares the fruit to
''a combination of cornflower, rotten cheese, nectarines, crushed
filberts (hazel nuts), a dash of pineapple, a spoonful of old dry
sherry, thick cream, apricot pulp and a soupcon of garlic, all
reduced to the consistency of a thick custard.''

Durian lovers should visit the Baracatan Farm, 30 minutes south
of Davao. Out of the farm's 500 hectares, 93 have been devoted
to durian trees alone.

It is considered the biggest durian plantation in Davao. Its
management is scientific and meticulously supervised by a
dedicated agriculturist, Ismael Elevazo, assisted by agronomist
Jesus Legasta.

Other wonders

Davao City has two 18-hole courses where golfers can tee off
under coconut and fruit trees, amid natural hazards and rolling

The Apo Golf and Country Club, laid out in a vast coconut
plantation in Dumoy (where fresh water abounds), is touted to
be one of the best in the country and site of many national and
international championships. Ten minutes from downtown is the
Lanang Golf and Country Club, with well maintained facilities
like a clubhouse, a restaurant, and tennis courts.

Davao also has a number of beaches to offer. Times Beach, two
kilometers from the city center, bustles with picnickers during
Sundays and holidays. Historic Talomo Beach is best
remembered as a landing site for Japanese and American forces
during World War II.

Across the strait due east from the mainland is Samal, an
unspoiled island ringed with secluded coves of white sand.

Ten minutes away via pumpboat from the Davao Insular
Continental Inn is a white expanse of beach dotted with resorts
such as Paradise Island Beach, coolly welcoming under the
shade of talisay trees.

Perhaps the most regal beach resort among them is the Pearl
Farm. Nestled in a secluded cove on Samal Island 45 minutes by
motor launch off the coast of Davao, it was featured during the
Miss Universe Contest a couple of years ago.

''In here,'' says one resort staffer, ''we only have one rule: We
don't allow anyone to leave unsatisfied.''

For diving aficionados, Davao Gulf teems with underwater
vistas. Some of the more popular sites are found at Ligid Island,
Talicud Island, Mushroom Rock, Limao/Sunken Island, Pearl
Farm and Isla Malipano. These dive sites are 45 minutes to two
hours away via pumpboat from the wharf of the Davao Insular
Intercontinental Inn, and a few minutes away from Samal Island

One of the most anticipated festivals is the Kadayawan sa
Dabaw, held during the month of August. It is a festival of
thanksgiving of the people of Davao for the bountiful harvest of
fruits and flowers.

''The Kadayawan festival is our answer to the Ati-atihan of
Aklan, Dinadyang of lloilo, Sinulog of Cebu, Binirayan of
Antique, Halaran of Capiz, and Maskarrah of Bacolod, Negros
Occidental,'' a Dabawenyo told this author.

During the Kadayawan celebration, customs and traditions of
the native Dabawenyos are featured while various species of
Davao's ornamental and agro-industrial products are exhibited
in various parts of the city.

Glorious food

Cosmopolitan Davao serves up a banquet of international
cuisines in its many restaurants. Take your pick among fast
food, Chinese cooking, Filipino dishes, continental cuisine,
fresh seafood, desserts or sandwiches and burgers. Formal
dining is available in hotels and large restaurants at very
reasonable rates.

The pride of Davao, however, is the Luz Kinilaw Place at the Sta.
Ana Wharf. Rows of bariles (tuna) sizzle over hot
coals--skewered panga (literally, jaw, but here it indicates the
whole head of tuna), buntot (tail), bihod (eggs), tungol (walls of
intestines), and obol-obol (throat).

For the less adventurous, there is grilled sugpo (large prawns),
pusit (cuttlefish), and fish--all dipped in the requisite toyomansi
(soy sauce with Philippine lemon) and eaten with steaming rice
over good conversation.

Davao can be reached by plane in one-and-a-half hours from
Manila and 55 minutes from Cebu City.

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines fly daily to
Davao. There are also PAL flights to Davao from Cagayan de
Oro and Zamboanga.

For a more scenic route, visitors can take the two-day trip over
land along the Pan Philippine Highway from Manila to Davao
via Philtranco Bus Lines. Many shipping lines also service sea
routes to Davao from Manila and other neighboring island

Getting around the city is not a problem. Jeepneys provide easy
and accessible means of transport. First-class air-conditioned
taxicabs (4,500 of them brand-new) are just a phone call away.

For accommodations, visitors can choose from a number of
hotels, lodges and inns. Among these are the Davao Insular
Intercontinental Inn, Marco Polo, Mandaya Hotel, Apo View
Hotel, Hotel Maguindanao and Durian Hotel.

Have a good visit.

September 5, 1999
Philippine Inquirer Internet Edition

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