What to expect in Davao.

This sprawling city, the culinary, cultural, economic and commercial capital of the  south is, for better or worse, becoming more like Manila. More traffic, more malls,  more multinationals, more subdivisions hidden behind security gates.

However,  Mt Apo looms majestically in the distance symbolising the typical DavaoeƱos dual citizenship as both an urbanite and someone deeply rooted to the land outside the  city. Locals know Davao (dah-bow, and sometimes spelt ‘Dabaw’) has more than  enough action to keep them satisfied, and yet it’s only a short drive or boat ride to  forested slopes and white-sand beaches.

Able to hold out against the invading Spaniards until the mid-19th century, the  city is an interesting mix of Muslim, Chinese, tribal and even Japanese influences – the latter because of early abaca-processing warehouses in the area and less happily because of WWII.

Predominantly Christian, the city has seen its share of hard times, especially in the 1980s when there was guerrilla fighting in the streets.

These days there's also a significant number of South Indians, many studying at  Davao Doctor's Hospital; but there are few Korean expats, it's said because of the  city's strict anti-smoking laws.

While Davao continues to expand, especially south towards Toril, much of the  land outside the city has been turned over to massive plantations growing export  quantities of pineapples, bananas and citrus.

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