Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Davao City

by Ivan Ignacio 

The BACKPACKERS' Davao Adventure kicked off on February 14, 2013. The ultimate goal: to scale PH's highest: Mt. Apo! Six BPs, one inductee and three guests joined the expedition. But before the Mt. Apo undertaking, the gang spent the first day roaming around one of Mindanao's busiest cities: Davao City.

April Bedana
Clue Fajardo
Liz Honrade
Tin Palomares
Heinz Alvarez
Ivan Ignacio
Wilson Galapon *Batch 6

Shine Caballes
Louie Baccay


Not included in the itinerary but one of the group's cab driver was in a generous 'tourism' mode when he pointed out the huge structure along the highway to SM Davao as the residence of the controversial Ampatuan clan. He let the lucky passengers get out to take souvenir pictures of the gigantic structure. T'was really big!

The impressive and huge house of the Ampatuan in Davao City


After landing in Davao City, and detouring at Ampatuan's residence, our hired cab dropped us at SM Davao. There are two SM establishments in Davao: SM Ecoland and the newly opened SM Matina. Our cab fare from the airport to the former was around 200Php. We dropped our  backpacks at the baggage counter while we were off touring for the day. But before we went seeing places we first indulged at the delicious offerings of Pyesta Restaurant before heading off to our next destination.

Starting our adventure - the Pyesta way!
SM City Love


When I was in elementary, it was my dream to go to a crocodile farm. The first coveted place in mind was in Palawan. It even inspired my Biology project when I constructed a crocodile farm model with small plastic crocodiles swimming in a hairgel in a small scale crocodile farm made of styrofoam. Twelve years later, I finally fulfilled this dream - but it was not in Palawan, I found my first crocodile farm in Davao.

The boys posing with the non living crocodiles at the entrance of the park
Situated at the Riverfront, Corporate City Diversion Highway, Ma-a, Davao City, the Davao Crocodile Farm is a haven not only for crocodiles but for several other species of animals. The park mandates a 150Php fee ~ which already includes entrance to the Butterfly House and the Tribu K'Mindanawan. After paying the fee, we roamed around the park like dazed kindergarten on their first field trip. We saw that the dens of the crocodiles were divided on how old they are. The juvenile cage of which offers visitors to have an interaction with the young crocodiles by feeding them. One of the largest crocodile in captivity, perhaps the current largest now that Lolong from Agusan marsh is dead, is Pangil, and is one of the main attractions of the park: Meet The Two Hundred Year Old Crocodile!

Top images and the bottom right image feature crocodiles
The bottom left image is an actual bone of a manatee

We roamed around and enjoyed the sights of animals (other than crocodiles) in the park. There was a field where sheep and ostriches prowl. Cages of colorful birds greet us one after another. What has gotten our attention was the opportunity to hold a huge python, have it wrapped around our shoulder blades while our buddies took a picture of us and the reptile. A lot of us courageously accepted the challenge and realized that snakes are not really slippery nor icky.

The BACKPACKERS and Byaheng Jologs taming the large python

Then there were the monkey cages wherein some of these primates where putting on a show of their own. An orangutan in particular tend to swing around and pose whenever a spectator readies a camera. Perhaps one of the opportunities while in Davao was to see the Philippine Eagle. And inside the park, there were several eagles, uncaged, that we saw. These feathered creatures stand proudly on their perches as we took pictures of them. I wanted to touch one but I was apprehensive if it will respond tamely or bite me aggressively. But these nation's national bird were mighty! Some can even grow to a size where they can eat a small monkey in the wild.

BP Liz and one of the rather smaller Philippine Eagle

Guest couple Shyne and Louie spreading love around the park

The BACKPACKERS and friends at the Ostrich Ranch
Other wildlife in Davao Croc Farm


During our earlier years, we were taught The Life Cycle of a Butterfly in our Science classes. How cool is it to actually see it in real life? The Davao Butterfly House takes its visitors to a one of a kind learning experience by visiting sections of the garden. Here, you can have a live interaction and witness the metamorphosis of a caterpillar from being an egg to becoming a butterfly.

Inside the Butterfly House
Butterfly April

The most refreshing part of the park for sure is the butterfly garden where hundreds, if not thousands, of colorful butterflies freely fly around the area. We had the liberty of seeing, touching and playing with these winged insects. The area is wide enough for them to spread their wings over an aesthetically designed garden with a pool in the middle. The pool has carps and other fishes on it, too. There was one point when everyone was surprised to see one of the carps eating the unfortunate butterfly flying near the water of the pool area. Bye bye Butterfree!

Outside the garden was a section for the egg, pupa and the caterpillar stages. We did not linger much on these so as not to disturb their ecosystem. (But in reality, some of us just really felt icky in seeing even a singular fat green caterpillar!)

Aside from the caterpillars, butterflies and fishes inside the garden, we were also treated Fear Factor style! The friendly attendant of the garden showed us two other creatures that they house: scorpions and tarantulas! And as what a daring backpacker would do, one at a time, we let a scorpion and a tarantula lay on our palm as our buddies capture the dare on camera. The scorpion's shell was hard while the tarantula was very fuzzy! However, our thoughts on the tarantula being rather fuzzy and 'teddy-beary'  became mixed again as the attendant showed us the sharp and long teeth of the tarantula! But kudos to everyone who faced their fear, a once in a lifetime feat!

(Soon to be BP) Wilson weighing both the scorpion and tarantula on his palms

Hey there fuzzy creature!

BP Heinz and the Tarantula challenge

Is BP Liz afraid, or not?

ALL SMILES! The girls hiding behind the tree outside the park

Two pairs braved the Zorb challenge. In a Zorb ride, two riders are strapped inside an inflatable, see through ball as it rolls down a hill. BP Clue and Ma'am Weng rode first and their screams were a proof of how thrilling the ride could be! Me (BP Ivan), and BP April went next where we dared ourselves not to scream or even utter a single expression. We were victorious but keeping the shouts and the thrills inside us made us dizzier! Whew! All in all, it was exciting!

Are you ready to scream?

BP Clue screaming on top of her lungs

A rolling zorb gathers no moss

Just after the zorb ride

It's BP Ivan and BP April's turn!

BP April: the best!

Those were the action packed adventures in Davao City. And the real endeavor began as the group travelled that night to Camp Linaw which signaled the start of our journey to conquer PH's highest: MT. APO!

UP NEXT: The Journey to PH's Highest


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