Saturday, May 29, 2010

Padada Blooms and its Mouth Watering Gastronomy

During our trip to the dusty, humid and sun-kissed municipality of Padada in Davao del Sur, we've come across several unique variety of flowers and, though we have no idea of their nomenclature (except the frangipanis aka calachuchi), we’re proud to share them here.

We’d be grateful if anyone can help with some of these flowers' nomenclature.

As to the gastronomic riches, they are mostly fruits of the season: Durian (which is worth P45/kilo at its peak), mangoes (P45/kilo), bananas (saging), sineguelas, pineapple, watermelon (pakwan) and the occasional mangosteen and pomelo. Also featured here is the delectable Ginataan – and Davao’s version is a rich mix filled with the sweetest bananas (saba variety - aka plantain) and landang (a Visayan type of very small sago - the tapioca pearls). Ginataan is locally called Binignit – without doubt the best tasting ginataan we’ve ever tasted in the country! The road from Padada to Sulop is littered with make shift stalls by the road side. These tindahans (store) sell sumptuous and impossibly cheap bibingkas with coconut strips. How much are they? Hold your breath – P5 a piece! When people say things in Davao are cheap – they sure weren’t kidding!
This is the Eye in the Sky!

Frangipani (calachuchi)

Ginataan aka Binignit - a dessert cooked with gata - the Tagalog word for coconut milk. This "thin" coconut milk extract is added to cubed kamote (sweet potato), gabi (taro) and ube (purple yam), sliced ripe sabá (plantain) and langka (jack fruit), and tapioca pearls.

Bibingka is a type of pudding baked in a clay oven. Ingredients include plain flour, butter, coconut milk and sugar. Though popular in the Philippines, it is even more so as a traditional dessert in Goa (India) where it is called Bebinca or bibik. Before being served, butter or margarine is spread and sugar is sprinkled over the bibingka. It is typically served with grated coconut. It may also be topped with sliced salted eggs and cheese.In Davao del Sur, the pudding has strip of coconut milk embedded within. They are also bite-sized and is worth P5 a piece. Yummy!


Sineguelas (right side corner) is otherwise known as the Spanish Plum or Red Mombin and has several medicinal use: emetic (among the Cubans), laxative (among the Dominicans) and its fruit syrup is given to those suffering from angina among Haitians. We do wonder how these could be extracted as the variety we know is more pulpy/fleshy than juicy unless they are over riped. I kinda prefer my sineguelas crunchy!

Duhat is known as Lumboy in Visayas and Mindanao. It's better known as Black Plum or Java Plum, containing tannin, gallic acid, volatile oil and fat. In India, seeds are used for Diabetes. A 1% decoction is used as a mouthwash. Fleshy portion is used against diarrhea.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Padada Davao del Sur - Padada Central School & St. Michael's Church

Padada - As we've previously mentioned, this 4th class municipality is in dire need of a park where people can relax, take a stroll. This town has no green space where local folk can enjoy. Even the sprawling grounds in the vicinity of the Municipal Hall look in desperate need of a makeover. With ceilings from its munisipyo gaping, you would wonder when it's derelict second floor would eventually cave in!

As we ventured around, we've come across a public school - Padada Central Elementary School - with a patch of green; a garden of dwarf frangipanis (calachuchi) and some oddly exotic flowering plant. There was a small playground with low bars for children to climb on. A Jose Rizal bust stands at the lawn, with paints chipping off Rizal's face. As we went to the backyard, we noticed the lush vegetation of camote. Further afield was a new gymnasium - the barangay must be under the governor's good grace! It was a pleasant time walking around a deserted school. From a distance, we saw a few people weeding the grassy field.

The public school has a long history - it was founded in 1949!

Another place we visited was St. Michael's Church. The area surrounding the church was typically residential, with a Catholic school (St. Michael's School of Padada) just beside the parish grounds. A woman who stood for a prayer lamented that the church shuts its doors most of the time so you cannot just head down for a quick prayer. "Pirmi man gud sarado (They're always closed.)" she remarked.

Such visit bolsters the fact that there is no absolutely boring town. You just have to look hard to find small gems like St. Michael's Church and Padada Central Elementary School grounds.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Padada Central Elementary School circa 1949. Nothing much has probably changed.

A waiting shed on a dusty road in front of the school.

Walkway towards the school's main hall.

Frangipanis (calachuchi)

Jose Rizal, the country's national hero - chipping away.

Gymnasium at the back lot of the school.

Wild grass flowers.

Deserted make-shift tindahans (store) will soon re-open in mid-June.

Barangay Tanod check point

St. Michael's Church

"Who is God-like" - at the church entrance.

Interiors of St. Michael's Church

The small garden in front of the church.

Parish center

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Padada Davao del Sur - Life and Politics in a Small Town

Jose Rizal bust at the Padada Central Elementary School.

Padada, Davao del Sur, Mindanao Island, Philippines - Like most trips that come our way, we always seek for places that hardly rise above the tourist radar. I am partial to those off-the-beaten tracks; places that offer a slice of rural Philippines. After spending a couple of days in charmless Digos City, we decided to venture further south. We took a jeepney and decided on checking out the municipality of Padada. Other suggestions from friends include Malita and Hagonoy. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time and didn't have the luxury to enjoy Malita since it goes further south - while Hagonoy is way out of the National Highway! We settled with Padada and thought we'd have a few chats with the towns' folk to get a feel of the place.

There wasn't much going on as we treaded our initial steps, but little stories about simple matters pique our interest. For example, we wonder why a huge street like Mascardo remains unasphalted, while the very small road just a few walks perpendicular down Mascardo (doesn't even reach 100 meters, with hardly any vehicle passing through) is beautifully paved. A guy by a small tindahan (store) offered to enlighten us. It turned out to be a simple political equation. The barangay covering Mascardo doesn't vow support to the governor. Apparently, the only roads he is willing to fund are those barangays who pledge to support him. This strikes us as a grave example of power-playing and politicizing. A governor is a whole province's governor, even of the minority who didn't vote for him. But this province's governor has obviously limited his sovereignty to those who kiss his ass! His selective rule results in the selective development of this province. Small town politics, or small brain politics?

Padada, Davao del Sur is a 4th class municipality in the province of Davao del Sur. It has a population of 24,200 spread over 17 barangays. Almendras District covers the central, commercial area populated by the public market, bakeries, pawnshops (we saw a big Lhuillier pawnshop at the market), hardware shops, drugstores (we saw 3), transportation terminal, a private hospital located along Mascardo Street - Asilo Hospital, and one university - Southeastern College. The population is basically blue collar - teachers, government employees, paramedical professionals; a good number of whom work in nearby Digos City, 15-20 minutes north of Padada if you have a car; 30-45 minutes on a jeepney.

Navigating the central district is a leisurely walk that won't take 2 hours. There are no tourist spots to speak off. In fact, it doesn't even have a public park where residents can unwind for leisure. There used to be a Cinema house a few decades ago, but everything commercial doesn't seem to flourish, thus if you're looking for a mall or even a department store, you won't find them here. You have the option of traveling to Digos City, Davao City or General Santos City.

The municipality is in dire need of a visionary who is willing to invest on (at the very least) a leisure park to jumpstart its development and thus, honor its residents - instead of just condoning old time mayors who buy multiple cars and build mansions of their own! The newly installed mayor (Mr. Jun Caminero) is largely popular and people hope he will step up to the task of overhauling Padada's image as a laggard - the slowpoke - among Davao del Sur towns. "This town has never moved forward - it's the politicians who get rich," remarked a manang speaking in her sarisari store, as we finished our lukewarm bottle of Coca Cola. Hmmm. A familiar sentiment! Another person we've chatted with mentioned the fact that Mr. Caminero has been Vice Mayor for the longest time, yet he hasn't done much for Padada either. Why should people expect more this time? It's wishful thinking.

On our part, we believe that new beginnings are always a hopeful start. Things should then be looking up.

I had an easy commute from Padada's terminal back to our drab hotel in Digos City. The jeepney ride from Padada to Digos was just P20 per person.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Rizal Street - the main commercial road that also leads to the Municipal Hall.

Welcome arch of the municipal hall.

The road to the munisipyo.

Padada Municipal Hall - Years after the past administration has "ruled" this 4th class community, the municipal hall looks decrepit and falling to pieces. Talks surfaced that the past mayor (who ran as Vice Mayor and lost) is sporting 3 vehicles (2 of them brand new) and is finishing a million-peso mansion!

Paint chipping away at the Legislative Hall.

Women's Desk

Padada Municipal Auditorium

Tennis court

Hitting the ball.

A small chapel in the vicinity of the munisipyo (municipal hall). It stands unobtrusively beside the tennis court.

St. Michael's Church along Bonifacio Street.

St. Michael's Parish interiors.

St. Michae'sl School of Padada - A private, Catholic secondary school in the municipality.

Pedicabs (tricycles) queue at the market place. A ride to nearby streets costs P8/person.

An unfinished building makes for Padada Terminal's facade.

Colorful jeeps at the terminal.

View from the top - just when you thought it's full capacity. This "fiera" travels long distance north to Davao City, a trip that will take 2 to 3 hours depending on the frequency of stops to pick more passengers along the road.

One Network Bank - the municipality's lone bank. It has an ATM where you can withdraw cash, but it's hard to find the right timing as it's either offline or out of cash most of the time. In some instances, withdrawing cash gets hairy because your ATM card takes forever to pop out!

Water jugs, cooking kettles and pans, bukag...

Mangoes and bananas, the fruits of the season.

More fruits

During brown outs, there's absolutely nothing cold to drink coz the frequent power outages won't leave the refrigerators enough time to make some ice!

Once their petals open, they droop like bells.

Floral motif.

More photos and basic information about Davao del Sur here -