Davao City
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Davao City

Davao City

Dakbayan sa Dabaw
City of Davao
(From top, left to right): Ateneo de Davao, San Pedro Cathedral, City Hall of Davao, People's Park, Skyline of Davao City, Marco Polo Hotel Davao, Davao River, Davao Chinatown
(From top, left to right): Ateneo de Davao, San Pedro Cathedral, City Hall of Davao, People's Park, Skyline of Davao City, Marco Polo Hotel Davao, Davao River, Davao Chinatown
Official seal of Davao City
  • "King City of the South"[1]
  • "Crown Jewel of Mindanao"[2]
  • "Durian Capital of the Philippines"[3]
  • "Fruit Basket of the Philippines"[4]

Life Is Here[5]
Anthem: Tayo'y Dabawenyo (We are Davaoeño)
Map of Davao Region with Davao City highlighted
Map of Davao Region with Davao City highlighted
Davao City is located in Mindanao
Davao City
Davao City
Location within the Philippines
Davao City is located in Philippines
Davao City
Davao City
Davao City (Philippines)
Davao City is located in Asia
Davao City
Davao City
Davao City (Asia)
Coordinates: 7°04?N 125°36?E / 7.07°N 125.6°E / 7.07; 125.6Coordinates: 7°04?N 125°36?E / 7.07°N 125.6°E / 7.07; 125.6
RegionDavao Region
ProvinceDavao del Sur (geographically only)
District1st to 3rd Districts of Davao City
Founded29 June 1848
Chartered16 October 1936
Cityhood16 March 1937
Highly Urbanized City22 December 1979
Founded byDon Jose Cruz de Oyanguren of Guipuzcoa, Spain
Barangays182 (see Barangays)
 o Type
 o MayorSara Z. Duterte-Carpio
 o Vice MayorSebastian Z. Duterte
 o Congressmen
 o Highly Urbanized City2,443.61 km2 (943.48 sq mi)
 o Urban
293.78 km2 (113.43 sq mi)
 o Metro
3,964.95 km2 (1,530.88 sq mi)
Area rank1st
6 m (20 ft)
(2015 census)[9]
 o Highly Urbanized City1,632,991
 o Rank3rd
 o Density670/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
 o Metro
 o Metro density630/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
  • Davaeño, (Spanish)[10]
  • Davaense (Spanish)[11]
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
+63 (0)82
Climate typetropical rainforest climate
Income class1st city income class
Revenue (?)9,539,268,597 (2018)[12]
Total assets (?)16,258,952,709 (2018)[12]
Spoken languagesCebuano, Kalagan, English, Chavacano, Native Davaoeño and other minority languages (Manobo languages, Tausug, Sama, Iranun, Tagabawa, Giangan, Maguindanao, Maranao, Hiligaynon, Hokkien, Japanese, Korean)

Davao City, officially the City of Davao (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa Dabaw), is a 1st class highly urbanized city in the island of Mindanao, Philippines. The city has a total land area of 2,443.61 km2 (943.48 sq mi), making it the largest city in the Philippines in terms of land area. It is the third-most populous city in the Philippines after Quezon City and Manila, the most populous city in the country outside Metro Manila, and the most populous in Mindanao. [9] As of the 2015 census, the city had a population of 1,632,991.

It is geographically situated in the province of Davao del Sur and grouped under the province by the Philippine Statistics Authority, but the city is governed and administered independently from it. The city is divided into three congressional districts, which are subdivided into 11 administrative districts with a total of 182 barangays.

Davao City is the center of Metro Davao, the third-most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines (as of the 2015 census it had a population of 2.5 million, compared with Metro Manila's 12.8 million and Metro Cebu's 2.8 million). The city serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao, and the regional center of Davao Region. Davao is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. The city is also nicknamed the "Durian Capital of the Philippines".

Rodrigo Duterte, mayor for 22 years, boasted that he killed criminals, and claimed, with the support of local and national media, that he had made the city into one of the safest in the world.[13][14] However, Davao had the highest murder rate and the second-highest rape rate in the country according to national police data as of 2015.[15][16] A vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad killed over 1,400 street children and alleged criminals while he was mayor, according to human rights groups.[17]


The region's name is derived from its Bagobo origins. The Bagobos were indigenous to the Philippines. The word davao came from the phonetic blending of three Bagobo subgroups' names for the Davao River, a major waterway emptying into the Davao Gulf near the city. The aboriginal Obos, who inhabit the hinterlands of the region, called the river Davah (with a gentle vowel ending, although later pronunciation is with a hard v or b); the Clatta (or Giangan/Diangan) called it Dawaw, and the Tagabawas called it Dabo. To the Obos, davah also means "a place beyond the high grounds" (alluding to settlements at the mouth of the river surrounded by high, rolling hills).[18]


Spanish era

Although the Spaniards began to explore the Davao Gulf area as early as the 16th century, Spanish influence was negligible in the Davao region until 1844, when the Spanish Governor General of the Philippines Narciso Claveria ordered the Davao Gulf region, including what is now Davao City, to be claimed Davao City for the Spanish Crown, despite protests by the Sultan of Maguindanao. Official colonization of the area, however, began in 1848 when an expedition of 70 men and women led by José Cruz de Uyanguren of Vergara, Spain, made a landing on the estuary of the Davao River the same year, intent on colonizing the vicinity. Nearby, a settlement was situated on the banks of the river, ruled by a Muslim Bagobo chieftain named Datu Bago.

Being the strongest chieftain in the region, Datu Bago imposed heavy tribute on the Mandaya tribes nearby, therefore also making him the most loathed chieftain in the region. Cruz de Uyanguren has orders from the higher authorities in Manila to colonize the Davao Gulf region, which included the Bagobo settlement on the northern riverbank. At this juncture, a Mandaya chieftain named Datu Daupan, who then ruled Samal Island, came to him, seeking for an alliance against Datu Bago.[19] The two chieftains were archrivals, and Cruz de Uyanguren took advantage of it, initiating an alliance between Spain and the Mandayas of Samal Island. Intent on taking the settlement for Spain, he and his men accordingly assaulted it, but the Bagobo natives fiercely resisted the attacks, which resulted in his Samal Mandaya allies to retreat and not fight again. Thus, a three-month long inconclusive battle for the possession of the settlement ensued which was only decided when an infantry company which sailed its way via warships from Zamboanga came in as reinforcements, thus ensuring the takeover of the settlement and its surroundings by the Spaniards while the defeated Bagobos fled further inland.[20]

After Cruz de Oyanguren defeated Bago, he founded the town of Nueva Vergara, the future Davao, on 29 June 1848[21] in an area of mangrove swamps which is now Bolton Riverside, in honor of his home in Spain and becoming its first governor. Almost two years later in 29 February 1850, the province of Nueva Guipúzcoa was established via a royal decree,[22] with the newly founded town as the capital, once again to honor his homeland in Spain. When he was the governor of the province, however, his plans of fostering a positive economic sway on the region backfired, which resulted in his eventual replacement under orders of the colonial government.

The province of Nueva Guipuzcoa was dissolved in 30 July 1860, as it became the Politico-Military Commandery of Davao.[23] By the clamor of its natives, a petition was given to the Spanish government to eventually rename Nueva Vergara into Davao, since they have called the town as the latter long from the time of its founding. It was eventually done in year 1867, and the town Nueva Vergara was officially given its present name Davao.[24]

The Spanish control of the town was unstable at best, as its Lumad and Moro natives routinely resisted the attempts of the Spanish authorities to forcibly resettle them and convert them into Christians.[25] Despite all these, however, such were all done in the goal of making the governance of the area easier, dividing the Christians both settlers and native converts and the Muslim Moros into several religion-based communities within the town.

During the Philippine Revolution

As the Philippine Revolution, having been fought for two years, neared its end in 1898, the expected departure of the Spanish authorities in Davao became apparent--although they took no part in the war at all, for there were no revolutionary figures in the vicinity save a negligible pro-Filipino separatist rebel movement in the town of Santa Cruz in the south.[26] When the war finally ended, as the Spanish authorities finally left the town, two Davaoeño locals by the names of Pedro Layog and Jose M. Lerma represented the town and the region at the Malolos Congress of 1898, therefore indicating Davao as a part of the nascent First Philippine Republic.[27]

The period of Filipino revolutionary control of Davao did not last long, however, as the Americans landed at the town later the same year. There was no record of locals offering any sort of resistance to the Americans.

American period

At the very instant the Americans began their administration of the town in 1900, economic opportunities quickly arose as huge swathes of its areas, mainly lush forests and fertile grasslands, were declared open for agricultural investment. A result of this, foreign businessmen especially Japanese entrepreneurs started settling the region, staking their claims on the vast lands of Davao and turned them into huge plantations of coconut and banana products.[28] In just a short period, Davao changed from a small and sparsely-inhabited town into a bustling economic center serving mainly the Davao Gulf region, heavily populated alongside natives by tens of thousands of settlers and economic migrants from Luzon, Visayas and Japan. All of this led the Port of Davao to be established and opened the same year, in order to facilitate the international export of agricultural products from Davao.

Davao City Hall was established in 1926 as the Municipal Hall when it was still a town.

Davao was incorporated as a part of Moro Province from 1903 to 1914.[29] When the province was dissolved in 1914, it led to the establishment of Davao Province, with Davao town as its provincial capital. What is now the city's Legislative Council Building served as the provincial capitol.[30] It was built in 1926, the same year the Davao Municipal Hall, now the City Hall, was constructed.[31]

Man bicycling down street in old photo, with cars in background
Japan-town, Davao City (circa 1930s)

Because of the rapidly increasing progress of the town, on March 16, 1936, congressman Romualdo Quimpo from Davao filed Bill 609 (passed as Commonwealth Act 51), creating the City of Davao from the town of Davao and the municipal district of Guianga. The bill called for the appointment of local officials by the president. By that time, the new city was already mostly populated with Japanese businessmen and settlers who then became its locals.[32] Davao was inaugurated as a charter city on 16 October 1936 by President Manuel L. Quezon;[33] the charter came into effect in 1 March 1937. It was one of the first two towns in Mindanao to be converted into a city, the other being Zamboanga.

Second World War

On December 8, 1941, Japanese planes bombed the harbor, and from December 20 they landed forces and began an occupation of the city which lasted to 1945. Davao was among the earliest to be occupied by Japanese forces, and the city was immediately fortified as a bastion of Japanese defense.[]

The city was subjected to extensive bombing by forces led by Douglas MacArthur before American forces landed in Leyte in October 1944. The Battle of Davao towards the end of World War II was one of the longest and bloodiest battles during the Philippine Liberation, and brought tremendous destruction to the city, setting back the economic and physical strides made before the Japanese occupation.

Philippine administration

Old seal of the city, NHCP version.

Davao regained its status as the agricultural and economic hub of Mindanao after the war ended in 1945. Wood products such as plywood and timber, and More agricultural products being produced within the city, such as copra and other varieties of banana, became available for export. Some Japanese locals -- 80% percent of the city's population prior to the war's end -- assimilated with the Filipino population, while others were expelled from the country by the Filipino locals, due to recent enmity.[34]

In 1967, the Province of Davao was divided into three provinces: Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur. The city of Davao became part of Davao del Sur;[35] no longer the provincial capital, it became a commercial center of southern Mindanao. During the 1970s, Davao became the regional capital of southern Mindanao; with the reorganization, it became the regional capital of the Davao Region (Region XI) and highly urbanized city in the province of Davao del Sur.

Conflict inside the city became severe, murders in the streets occurring very frequently. This situation lasted until 1985, when locals formed the vigilante group "Alsa Masa" (People's Rise) to drive the causative elements from the city.[36]


Davao City is approximately 588 miles (946 km) southeast of Manila over land, and 971 kilometres (524 nmi) by sea. The city is located in southeastern Mindanao, on the northwestern shore of Davao Gulf, opposite Samal Island.


Mouth of the Davao River in Talomo District
Mount Apo is the tallest mountain in the Philippines.

Davao City's land, totaling about 2,443.61 square kilometres (943.48 sq mi), is hilly in the west (the Marilog district) and slopes down to the southeastern shore. Mount Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, is located at the city's southwestern tip. Mount Apo National Park (the mountain and its surrounding vicinity), was inaugurated by President Manuel L. Quezon (in Proclamation 59 of May 8, 1936) to protect the flora and fauna of the surrounding mountain range.[37]

The Davao River is the city's primary drainage channel. Draining an area of over 1,700 km2 (660 sq mi), the 160-kilometre (99 mi) river begins in the town of San Fernando, Bukidnon. The mouth of the river is located at Barangay Bucana at Talomo District.


Davao has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af), with little seasonal variation in temperature. The areological mechanism of the Intertropical Convergence Zone occurs more often than that of the trade winds and because it experiences rare cyclones the climate is not purely equatorial but subequatorial. Average monthly temperatures are always above 26 °C (78.8 °F), and average monthly rainfall is above 77 millimetres (3.03 in). This gives the city a tropical climate, without a true dry season; while there is significant rainfall in winter, the largest rainfall occurs during the summer months (see climate chart, below).

Climate data for Davao City (1981-2010, extremes 1903-2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.0
Average high °C (°F) 30.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.1
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) 17.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 140.3
Average rainy days 14 12 11 11 16 18 16 15 15 16 16 14 174
Average relative humidity (%) 82 81 78 77 80 82 83 82 82 81 82 81 81
Source: PAGASA[38][39]

Flora and fauna

Mount Apo is home to many bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area. It is also home to one of the world's largest eagles, the critically endangered Philippine eagle, the country's national bird. The Philippine Eagle Foundation is based near the city.[40] Plant species include the orchid waling-waling, also known as the "Queen of Philippine Flowers" as well as one of the country's national flowers, which are also endemic to the area. Fruits such as mangosteen (known as the "queen of fruits") and durian (known as the "king of fruits"), grow abundantly on Mount Apo.[]


Despite Davao City's location in the Asian portion of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the city has suffered few earthquakes and most have been minor. Mount Apo, 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwest from the city proper, is a dormant volcano.


The population of Davao City is 1,632,991 according to the 2015 census.[9]Metro Davao, with the city as its center, had about 2.5 million inhabitants in 2015, making it the third-most-populous metropolitan area in the Philippines and the most-populous city in Mindanao. In 1995, the city's population reached 1,006,840 inhabitants, becoming the first city in Mindanao and the Visayas and the fourth nationwide to exceed one million inhabitants. The city's population increase during the 20th century was due to massive immigration waves coming from other parts of the nation and the trend continues to this day.[44] It is projected to surpass Manila's population by 2020[45] to become the second-largest city in the Philippines.


A Matigsalug woman in a red decorated tribal blouse making tribal bracelets
A Matigsalug woman

Residents of Davao City and the whole corresponding Davao Region are colloquially known as Davaoeños. Nearly all local Davaoeños are Visayans (the majority are Cebuanos, with the rest being Hiligaynons), while others of different ethnicities collectively categorized as the Lumads make up the remainder of the local population. The Moro groups of the city are the Maguindanaons, Maranaos, Iranuns, Tausugs and the Sama-Bajaus. Non-Filipino Asians such as Indonesians, Malaysians, Taiwanese, Chinese Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese and Indians have settled and made small communities in Davao City. Non-Asian foreigners such as the Americans and Europeans are also present in the city.[].


Cebuano is the most widely used language in the city and its satellite cities and towns. English is the medium of instruction in schools and is widely understood by residents, who often use it in varying professional fields. Aside from Cebuano, Chavacano and Hiligaynon are also widely used in addition to languages indigenous to the city, such as the Giangan, the Kalagan, the Tagabawa, the Matigsalug, the Ata Manobo, and the Obo. Other languages spoken in the city include Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama-Bajau, Iranun and Tausug, followed by East Asian languages such as Hokkien, Japanese and Korean.


The city's San Pedro Cathedral

The majority of Davao City's inhabitants are Roman Catholics comprising 80% of the population. Other Christian groups, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo, Miracle Crusade, Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch) and followers of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, comprise eighteen percent of the city's religious background.[46]Seventh-day Adventists, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Philippine Independent Church and Baptists are the other Christian denominations. The remaining two percent belong to non-Christian faiths, mainly Islam. Some of the other faiths are Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, animism, Judaism and the non-religious.

The Restorationist Church Kingdom of Jesus Christ[47][48][49] had its origins in the city. Apollo Quiboloy, who claims to be the "Appointed Son of God", is the leader of the movement.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Davao is the main metropolitan see of the Roman Catholic Church in southern Mindanao. It comprises the city of Davao, the Island Garden City of Samal and the municipality of Talaingod in Davao del Norte; under its jurisdiction are the three suffragan dioceses of Digos, Tagum and Mati (the capital cities of the three Davao provinces). Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Archdiocese of Davao, appointed on February 11, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI, took office on May 22, 2012, at San Pedro Cathedral. Saint Peter, locally known as San Pedro, is the patron saint of the city.


The Peak, Gaisano Mall

Davao is part of the East Asian Growth Area, a regional economic-cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia.

According to the foundation, the city has a projected average annual growth of 2.53 percent over a 15-year period; Davao was the only Philippine city to reach the top 100.[50] As the largest economy outside Metro Manila, the city also serves as the largest local economy in southern Philippines.[51]


Agriculture remains the largest economic sector comprising banana, pineapple, coffee and coconut plantations in the city. It is the island's leading exporter of fruits such as mangoes, pomeloes, bananas, coconut products, pineapples, papayas, mangosteens and cacao.

The chocolate industry is the newest development in the city. Malagos Chocolate, developed here by Malagos Agriventures Corp., is now the country's leading artisan chocolate recognized worldwide. On the other hand, Seed Core Enterprises is the country's biggest exporter of cacao to Barry Callebaut.[52] Durian which is locally grown and harvested in the city, is also a notable export, although banana is the largest fruit export in the city. Local corporations like Lorenzo Group, Anflo Group, AMS Group, Sarangani Agricultural Corp. and Vizcaya Plantations Inc. have operations and headquarters here. Multinational companies like Dole, Sumifru/Sumitomo and Del Monte have their regional headquarters here also.[53]

Abreeza Ayala Business District - one of the most prominent business centers in the city.

The Davao Gulf provides livelihood for many fishermen. Some of the fish products include yellow fin tuna, brackish water milkfish, mudfish, shrimp and crab.[54] Most of the fish catches are discharged in the fishing port in Barangay Toril, which are then sold in the numerous markets within the city.

The city also serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao and is also one of the financial hubs of Mindanao. Phoenix Petroleum is a multinational oil company based in Davao City and is the first company based outside Metro Manila to be in the PSE Composite Index. Several industrial plants such as those of Coca-Cola Bottlers, Phil., Pepsi-Cola Products, Phil., Interbev Phil Inc. and RC Cola Phil., companies are located in the city. There is also a number of fruit packaging-exporting facilities, and food manufacturing plants as well as industrial construction plants such as Holcim Philippines, Union Galvasteel Corporation, and SteelAsia. The SteelAsia plant is now the largest and most modern steel rolling mill production facility in the country, completed in December 2014[55] and was purposely built to increase the national steel production and to reduce the construction costs in Mindanao.


One Network Bank is based in Davao City and is the largest rural bank in the Philippines in terms of assets. Most of its branches are located in Mindanao (including 17 locations where it is the only financial-services provider). Government social-insurance agencies such as the Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System also have locations in the city.

There are several commercial areas in the city: the city's downtown area, also known as the city centre, Davao Chinatown (Uyanguren), Bajada, Lanang, Matina, Ecoland, Agdao, Buhangin, Tibungco, Toril, Mintal and Calinan, the latter three located at the southwestern part of the city.

There are many shopping centers that dot the city. Notable ones include: Gaisano Mall of Davao, which opened in April 1997, is the largest Gaisano Mall in the Philippines,[57]Abreeza, which opened on May 12, 2011, is the first and largest Ayala Mall in Mindanao, and SM Lanang Premier which is the first SM Premier Mall in Mindanao.[58] Other major malls in the city include NCCC Mall of Davao, and SM City Ecoland, which is the first SM Mall in Mindanao[59] among many others. Victoria Plaza Mall, located on J.P. Laurel Ave., is the oldest shopping mall in the city, established in 1992. Felcris Centrale[60] is a mixed use Retail Mall, supermarket, and IT office complex located along Quimpo Boulevard. Gaisano Mall of Toril, which is the second Gaisano Mall under the DSG Sons Group in the city, is a large shopping mall located in Toril District at the southern part of the city. Some minor malls/community malls include Gaisano Grand Tibungco, NCCC Panacan, NCCC Main Uyanguren, Gaisano Grand Calinan and Gaisano Grand Toril. Construction of new shopping malls in the city are currently underway. Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall,[61] which is the fifth Gaisano Mall in the city under the Gaisano Grand Group, is a large shopping mall being constructed in Buhangin District just a few kilometers north of the downtown area. NCCC Mall Buhangin,[62] is the second NCCC Mall in the city which is also located in Buhangin District just beside Gaisano Grand Mall Buhangin. There are also proposed malls which include CityMall Northtown Davao,[63] which will be the first CityMall in the city that will rise in a 1.5 hectare lot within the vicinity of Northtown, a 116-hectare residential estate by the Alsons Dev. in Brgy. Cabantian, Davao City, and the Vista Mall Davao,[64] which will rise in Tugbok District.

Culture and heritage

Foreign influence

Davao City's Chinatown is said to be the Philippines' biggest in terms of land area.

As with most cities in the Philippines, Christianity is widespread as a result of Spanish colonialism. Christian churches and chapels dot the city's landscape. A small number of temples, mosques and other religions' places of worship may also be found around the city.

A notable tradition brought by the Spanish still celebrated today in Davao City is the celebration of the feast day of each of the barrios (villages) patron saints with a festival (fiesta). These are celebrated through song and dance.

The biggest celebration native to the city is the Kadayawan Festival in early to mid August which, in pre-colonial times was a celebration of the harvest. Today, it serves to commemorate the cultures of the indigenous tribes that inhabit the area surrounding Davao City. Many tribes people visit the city during this time. Festivities include native Mindanaoan street dances, motorcades featuring various clubs and social awareness groups based in the city and art exhibits in various locations featuring local artists and artisans.

The Davao Chinatown is the primary residence of the Chinese community in the city. It has its own seaport, the Santa Ana Wharf, which is also a part of Davao International Port.

Japanese cultural influence, like that of the Chinese, was also prominent in the city.[] The Japanese Community was concentrated in Mintal in the 3rd District of Toril, Davao City. In fact, a Japanese cemetery and Japanese Shrine is located there in Bago Oshiro in Mintal. Evidence of Japanese influence is still visible in Bago Oshiro where there are Japanese villages and schools. There are various Japanese-owned businesses in the city as well. Davao City is also home to Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School, a Japanese-administered educational institution.

Several foreign communities reside in the city, including Indonesians, Malaysians, Koreans and Indians. There are ESL schools for foreigners, and export-oriented industrial parks to entice Japanese and (South) Korean firms to set up shop in the city. However, there has been some cultural conflict over the integration of Koreans in the city, with then-city mayor Rodrigo Duterte complaining about their habit of smoking in public places.[65]


There are a number of cultural-heritage sites in the city, including the Davao Museum (in Insular Village, Lanang), the Mindanao Folk Arts Museum (Philippine Women's College, Juna Subdivision, Matina), Davaoeño Historical Society Museum (at Magallanes and Claveria Streets) and the Philippine-Japan Museum (Matsuo Compound, Calinan). Japanese historical sites include the Japanese Tunnel (used by Japanese forces during World War II), the 20th-century Japanese cemetery and the Furukawa Fiber Plant (used by Yoshizo Furukawa as an abacá and banana plantation).[66]


Four grilled bananas on wooden sticks
Ginanggang, grilled saba bananas with margarine and brushed with sugar, originated in Davao.

The cuisine of Davao City features skewered and grilled meat dishes, but the most common dish served in the city is kinilaw, a relative of ceviche made from tuna, mackerel, or swordfish with cucumber (and sometimes radishes) and chili marinated in vinegar. Sinuglaw, a portmanteau of sinugba (grilled) and kinilaw in the Cebuano language, is also a term for a dish in which diced, grilled pork belly is mixed with kinilaw.

Fruit dishes, snacks, and desserts are also popular, most made from durian and bananas. Ginanggang is a banana dish that originated in this city and spread to other parts of the country; a banana is grilled, skewered, brushed with margarine and sprinkled with sugar. Durian also made appearance on Davao's culinary scene.


Land of Promise, located atop a hill at The Gap Farming Resort

The Philippine eagle, the country's national bird and considered the largest eagle in the world, is endemic to Davao.[67] The orchid waling-waling and fruits such as durians, marang, rambutans, pomeloes and mangosteens are popular and generally cheaper in the city. Tourist destinations in the city include the Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Center, Mount Apo, Gap Farming Resort, the Davao Crocodile Park, Malagos Garden Resort, Eden Nature Park, and People's Park in the city center which is popular for its sculptures of indigenous people and dancing fountain. Samal Island, a part of Metro Davao, is an island city situated immediately off the city's coast in the Davao Gulf, popularly known for its scenic beaches.

Two major annual festivals are held in the city: the Araw ng Dabaw (Day of Davao) on March 16 (The city's incorporation day) and the Kadayawan Festival in August.[68] Also celebrated in the entire month of December, Pasko Fiesta sa Davao is an integration of festive and competitive Christmas activities showcasing colorful lightings and array of decorations in barangays, public parks, roads and buildings, and a series of competitive performances. Another annual festival, the Torotot Festival,[69] is held annually every New Year's Eve. First organized in the last day of 2013 during the 2014 New Year's Eve, it was organized as a recompense for the city firecracker-pyrotechnics ban; it includes a number of people simultaneously blowing party horns, locally known as torotots. It recorded a number of 7,568 people[70] participating in the first event, aiming to break the world record set by Japan for the most people simultaneously blowing party horns.

During 2011, there were 1,075,000 recorded tourist arrivals in the city, totaled from 81,081 foreign travelers, 983,315 local citizens, and 10,604 balikbayans/overseas Filipino workers. Estimated tourist receipts were recorded at 12.81 billion pesos while estimated economic benefits were 28.19 billion pesos.[71]


Statue of people and doves
Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity, with the Legislative Building in the background

Davao City has a deputy mayor, designated by the mayor, who is a link to the mayor (especially for those living outside the city). The deputy mayor is the mayor's representative for community events. The position complements the city's vice mayor, given the large geographical area of the city. Sara Duterte was elected mayor in the 2016 general election which also elected her father (and long-time Davao City mayor) Rodrigo Duterte the 16th President of the Philippines.

Davao City has 182 barangays, with three legislative districts. The city government of Davao is proposing two more congressional districts to serve its growing population.

Members of the House of Representatives are:

  • 1st District: Paolo Duterte
  • 2nd District: Vincent Garcia
  • 3rd District: Isidro T. Ungab


The 182 barangays of Davao City is arranged according to the 3 legislative districts and 11 administrative districts of the city.

Political map of Davao City districts



Quezon Boulevard

Popular modes of public transportation in the city are multicabs, jeepneys, tricycles, buses and taxis. Multicabs and jeepneys ply 82 designated passenger-vehicle routes around the clock. Tricycles ply routes beyond the main streets of the city. Taxis have several routes in and around Davao City. In mountainous areas, the habal-habal passenger motorcycle is the main mode of transportation

The city has the first taxis in the Philippines to accept payments from BancNet and MegaLink ATM and debit cards.[72] The black taxis are linked to the Global Positioning System (GPS), and dispatching is done by computer.[73]

The city offers a wide bus network to cities and provinces in Mindanao and as far as Pasay in Luzon, and Ormoc and Tacloban in the Visayas. The city is accessible by bus from several points in Mindanao such as Cotabato, Kidapawan, General Santos, Digos, Koronadal, Isulan, Tagum, Tandag, Bislig, Malaybalay, Mati, Monkayo, Malita, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, and Surigao .

Construction and improvement of roads and bridges in the city are underway. The city's third major road, the Buhangin Underpass, was completed in the first quarter of 2003. The Traffic Management and Computerization Scheme was implemented, considered one of the most modern in the country.[74]

A 28-kilometre (17 mi) monorail project has been endorsed by the City Government to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Philippine National Railways (PNR).[75]


Large ship approaching a wharf
The Port of Davao is the busiest port in Mindanao.

Davao is connected to Manila by roll-on/roll-off inter-island ferries. The city is served by domestic passenger ferries at Sasa International Seaport and Santa Ana Wharf, the international seaports of the Port of Davao, the busiest port in Mindanao.[76] The port is capable of servicing inter-island and international shipments. It is located in Davao Gulf and has two approaches, one at Pakiputan Strait between Davao and western Samal Island.

The Davao City and General Santos to Bitung, Indonesia sea connectivity route has also had just been started very recently.[when?] This route will enable traders from Mindanao to easily export goods and commodities like food and beverage, electronics and garments, beauty products, fertilizer, construction materials, agricultural inputs, tin cans and packaging materials up to North Sulawesi in Indonesia. The roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) shipping service which will serve the route is the Asian Marine Transport, a Philippine registered shipping firm and operator of the Super Shuttle Ferry, Super Shuttle Roro, and Shuttle Fast Ferry vessels.


White air-traffic control tower
Davao International Airport's air traffic control tower is considered the most advanced ATC in the Philippines.[77]

Located north from the city center, Francisco Bangoy International Airport is the major airport serving the city and the region. It is the busiest airport in Mindanao and the third-busiest in the country. Around 1966, Philippine Airlines(PAL), the country's largest fleet and flag carrier, began its first domestic jet service.

The Davao City Government is targeting more international direct-to-Davao flights after recently launched additional domestic direct-to-Davao flights. International airline companies and the city government are optimistic to open flights within 3.5 hours to 4 hours travel time from Davao.[] Whenever this would materialize will depend on these airlines. Top of the list are Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, all of which can be traveled to within 4 hours.


Davao Light and Power Company, an Aboitiz company which is the third-largest electric utility company in the country, serves the city's electricity needs. It had its own gas-operating power plant at Bajada district and 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Toril district.

Davao City Water District is the main water supplier in the city. It taps its water supply from the mountain springs in the city's western portion as well as from underground or surface water sources.[] The city's water supply runs through the company's production wells, sumps and reservoirs within the city. Its biggest water supply system is located at Barangay Dumoy.

Health care

There are 31 hospitals and tertiary centers in the city like the Davao Doctors Hospital, San Pedro Hospital, Brokenshire Memorial Hospital, Ricardo Limso Medical Center, Davao Medical School Foundation Hospital (DMSF Hospital), Metro Davao Medical and Research Center, Adventist Hospital, MMG Hospital, CHDC Hospital and the Southern Philippines Medical Center. In addition, CURE International, a non-profit organization that operates charitable hospitals and programs worldwide, operates the Tebow CURE Hospital, which is an orthopedic specialty hospital located in Davao City. It provides elective surgeries to both children and adults. Their primary charitable mission is to heal disabled children with conditions such as clubfoot, bowed legs, other bone deformities, untreated burns and cleft lip.[78]

Davao City is also noted and have been praised by the World Health Organization for its smoke-free policy since 2002.[79][79] the first in the Philippines.[80]

Law and order

Law and order is maintained by the Philippine National Police and a special military group, Task Force (TF) Davao. TF Davao is formed to protect the city from terrorist attacks and other crime and is affiliated with the Philippine Army and headed by an army colonel.[81]

A curfew on minors is enforced. All businesses, especially bars and discos, are mandated by a city ordinance to stop selling alcoholic drinks at 1:00 am (Final approval last July 24, 2013). Motorcyclists without helmets and motorists with defective lights are not legally allowed to enter (or drive in) the city.[82] Executive Order No. 39 imposes the reduction of speed limits for all kinds of motor vehicles within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City.[83]

President Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of Davao for a total of 22 years, has benefited from reports in the national media that he made Davao into one of the world's safest cities, and he cites this as justification for his national drug policy.[84][85][86] He has boasted that he made Davao into one of the world's safest cities by killing all of the criminals.[13] However, raw data from the Philippine National Police for the years 2010 to 2015 shows that the city had the highest murder rate in the Philippines, the second highest number of rapes, and the fourth highest number of index crimes.[15][87]

In February 2018, Davao City Council officially declared Senator Antonio Trillanes "persona non grata" after video emerged of him citing the police data to debunk the claim of Davao being the world's safest city, which he said that Davaoenos were "brainwashed" into believing. He said that he was "expressing what Davaoenos cannot express out of fear."[88][89] Media claims of "safest city" often cite rankings from Numbeo, a crowd-sourced survey website; as of February 2018, Davao had dropped to 275th out of 330 cities in Numbeo's "crime index".[90][91][92][87]

The Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), the first in the Philippines, is located in Sandawa, Matina. It is headquarters for 911 and the center for the 170 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in different strategic areas as of today covering access roads and populated downtown areas, and also including outside the Davao International Airport and six in different bridges to monitor the rise of water level in the city's rivers. The center also controls traffic signals in the city.[93]

In Davao, by city ordinance, police ensure that prostitutes have a valid health card, but do not arrest them.[94] In 2010, the Philippine Child Protection Unit stated that Davao was one of the top five areas in the Philippines for child prostitution and sex tourism.[95] Jeanette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, a Davao-based NGO that helps prostitutes, said in October 2016 that child prostitution had sharply increased over the past two years. She said that children were cheaper and more marketable.[96] Nevertheless, the city was awarded "Most Child-Friendly City for Highly-Urbanized Category" in 2013, 2014 and 2017. The city also won the same award in 1998 and 1999.[97] Also in 2017, the city was awarded with the "Best Disaster Risk Reduction and Management".[98]

The city's Executive Order No. 04, Series of 2013 imposes an order on creating the implementation of rules and regulations for the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance no. 0367-12, Series of 2012.[99] Davao City's Firecracker Ban was also implemented with ordinance No. 060-02/1406-02, Series of 2002.[100]

In 2016 and 2017, Davao City is among the local government units awarded with a "Seal of Good Local Governance" by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.[101][102] The city was also given the same award in 2015, prior to the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.[103]

Davao Death Squad

The Davao Death Squad is a vigilante group supposedly active in Davao City. The group is allegedly responsible for summary executions of street children and individuals suspected of petty crimes and dealing in drugs in Davao.[104] It has been estimated that the group is responsible for the killing or disappearance of between 1,020 and 1,040 people between 1998 and 2008.[105][106] In as early as 2005, the US State Department has received reports of the Human Rights Commission's (HRC) investigation regarding the alleged connection of the Duterte political dynasty of Davao to the killings.[107] This was followed by another investigation in 2009. The investigation was discontinued due to the stonewalling of the local government under Duterte, and the lack of public outrage.[108]


The city government provides free education at the primary (grade school) and secondary (high school) levels at public institutions. Currently, as sanctioned by the Department of Education, all primary and secondary institutions in the city use the K-12 educational system. The city currently hosts five universities.


The stadium and track-and-field area of Davao City Sports Complex.
Sabong or cockfight in Davao City.

Sports facilities in the city include the Davao City Recreation Center (Almendras Gymnasium), Tionko Football Field (near Agro College and the Davao River) and the gymnasiums of Ateneo de Davao University, Philippine Women's College of Davao's Rosa Santos Munda Events Center (RSM Events Center), the University of Southeastern Philippines, Holy Cross of Davao College, the University of Mindanao, and Mintal Comprehensive National High School. The main sports center of Davao City and also the largest is the Davao City Sports Complex, which hosted the 2019 National Games.

There are locally based sports teams in the city. Davao Football Association, working under the Philippine Football Federation, represents the city and Davao Region for national football events. Locally based basketball teams such as Goldstar Davao and Duterte Agilas work for the Mindanao Visayas Basketball Association. Collegiate varsity teams based in the tertiary institutions inside the city also compete in national competitions.

Sabong or cockfighting events are also held in cockfighting arenas within the city. In June 2015, the city held the country's largest cockfighting event, the 6th Annual Thunderbird Challenge.[109]

Sports management group Sonshine Sports Management is also based here.


National media networks such as GMA Network, ABS-CBN, TV5, PTV, IBC, and CNN Philippines maintain local stations in the city. The broadcast coverage of these media stations includes all of Davao Region as well as some areas beyond the region.

There are media networks based in the city as well. Davao Christian Broadcasting Channel and Sonshine Media Network International are two religion-oriented media networks, with the latter having a nationwide broadcast coverage as well as news & current affairs programs. The locally based community network SouthSpot broadcasts only on cable television.

In addition to 24 national newspapers, Davao City has 21 local daily newspapers, including the Sun Star Davao, the city-based Mindanao Times, and the Mindanao Examiner.

Davao City also invests in Online Media and has its official online news/media website which is the Davao Eagle.

Foreign relations

The influx of foreign visitors and the presence of expatriates and migrants in the city have prompted the governments of Japan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia to open Consulates-General in the city, while Palau and the United States have consular offices. Honorary consulates of the Czech Republic, Mexico, Austria, Spain, Timor Leste, Denmark and South Korea were also recently established.[110][111][112][113][114][115] United States Embassy in the Philippines opened a virtual consulate, where inquiries regarding visas, foreign-relations concerns and travel to the United States can be made by e-mail and chat. The virtual consulate is maintained in coordination with Ateneo de Davao University, University of Mindanao, University of the Immaculate Conception, Holy Cross of Davao College and AMA Computer College.

Sister towns and cities

There are 10 sister cities of Davao, as designated by Sister Cities International (SCI):

Friendship cities

Notable people

See also


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