Friday, July 30, 2010

Little Mermaid Finds Another Home at Davao Baywalk

To gain a human soul and the love of a human prince, she chose to suffer the consequences of saving his prince from oblivion. She was condemned and turned into sea foam! She was the Little Mermaid!

In this tale, mermaids have a lifespan of 300 years. Unlike the humans who either go to heaven – or hell, when mermaids die, they turn into sea foams and cease to exist. First published in 1837, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid’s” sentiment was as raw and compelling 173 years ago as it is now. It caught the imagination of generations – until it was disneyfied into Ariel! These days, the statue of Denmark’s most photographed statue still remains elusive (her face is turned away from the visiting crowd in the old seaport district of Langilinie in the capital of Kobenhavn).

Since the statue was introduced in Denmark (by Beer millionaire, Carlsberg founder J.C. Jacobsen whose son's name was Carl), the hopeless romantics are still in awe of the insurmountable odds that someone would willingly bear for the sake of love. Don’t we all dream of such devotion? Although the Little Mermaid finally left her “stone” in downtown Copenhagen to visit Shanghai (for the World Expo – she never left her portside home for 46 years!), she will be back to stare at the northern seas.

During our last visit to the Philippines’ southern city of Davao, we were literally astounded to find the “Little Mermaid” perched on her very own Davao rock! We were killing time before our evening flight back to Manila when I first noticed a 20 foot statue of Michelangelo’s David right by Davao Gulf. I instructed my driver to head to this seaside park that I belatedly learned was called Davao Baywalk!

I was thrilled!

This was something new that not a lot of tourists are even aware of. The park is still under construction, but much of the major attractions are already in place – a sprawling pond garnishing David’s regal statue, an idyllic seawall without much tourists (excluding the workers, there were probably less than 10 souls), and the priceless breeze from the Pacific! I walked further north until I saw “her” sitting atop her stone, her face turned against any spectators! The Little Mermaid! I was excited!

Davao City's Little Mermaid at the Baywalk (or Seawall).

This would be my third encounter with the girl who loved so much. Each encounter unplanned! First time was in Copenhagen, after witnessing the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Amalienborg Palace (the official residence of the royal family). Second was at a sultan’s palatial mansion they call “Istana” at the princely Bogor Gardens, two hours north of Jakarta in Indonesia. The third one is my great Davao discovery!

The manang by the tindahan (small store) told me that this park was being managed by Queensland (a popular residential village in Davao City) although I have my doubts. There are signs with reminders from Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. This, I am sure, is his brainchild. He must have gone to Denmark! Mayor Duterte (who’s Vice Mayor now) brought the concept of the Little Mermaid to Davao City.

Not content with such feat, he even brought Michelangelo’s David – twice the size of Copenhagen’s David’s – to complete the erstwhile “Copenhagen Experience”! (The original David stands at a museum in Florence, Italy, but has several replicas all throughout Europe, including Copenhagen, and the Americas, and even Jerusalem. More on that in our next post.)

Davao’s Little Mermaid is the exact replica in size, form and hue. The paint is gradually chipping off, but it is a faithful reproduction of the iconic figure. Like its Danish sister, it’s not an easy feat to touch the statue. You’d have to dip your feet in sea water to be able to do so! Carefull with the mossy concrete too, I almost fell. The Little Mermaid traveled a long way (Scandinavia) to get there! ;->

Fancy for a weekend in Copenhagen? Head to Davao!

Fast facts:

Some quarters refer to the place as "David's Edge".

Most taxi drivers would know if you just say “Seawall”. If not, try “Davao Baywalk”. It’s probably half a kilometer from SM Davao! Fare from anywhere within the city proper should be between PhP100-150!

The park has several restaurants in its vicinity, as well as a huge parking space for your car.

Best of all, entrance is free. And if you visit it within the year, I am almost sure you will be sharing the whole park with very few souls.

And as a reminder, Davao has outlawed smoking in public places. If you want to test the political will of the Dutertes, give it a puff, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Davao Baywalk

The gigantic David - must be 20 feet tall or more!

For a full scale, closer view of Davao's David, please check it out here:

The sprawling pond in front of David.

A park in active development!

A seaside town overlooking the Baywalk, the view from where the Little Mermaid sits.

Banana Cake. Looking dry and unpalatable, guess again! This delectable PhP8 cake is a must, courtesy of the nearest tindahan.

The original Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was hard to get a great photo of this little lady. Most time, her face casts a shadow - and she is turned against the crowd! I had to come back 3x for a decent face photo - check out our post from way back about the Little Mermaid. As the song goes, too much love, in fact, will kill you!

The posh Amalienborg Castle in downtown Kobenhavn where I started my walk! Witnessing the ceremonial changing of the guard is nothing different from the more touristy Buckingham Palace in London, but I like their "black" uniform! Very stately! From here, I took a walk with no specific itinerary. I first found a replica of Michelangelo's David. Further on, I reached the old seaport where I saw the "Little Mermaid". Some surprises are the most amazing finds!

Edmund Dulac's painting of the Little Mermaid and the Prince!

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