Saturday, November 7, 2009

Night Stroll at People's Park Davao City

As was stated last post, Davao City’s People’s Park, right in the heart of the city, is a welcome addition to its landmarks. What used to host athletes in sports meets has now been turned into a 4-hectare theme park that boasts of 1,100 species of plants and trees, an interactive fountain that dances with music, as well as a 2-story visitor’s center with a durian-shaped dome providing shade to its lookout hall.

According to Davao Today’s Marilou M. Aguirre’s article, “The park also showcases a 425-square meter visitors’ center built with a durian dome design, which houses a Bambusetum (a collection of the different species of bamboo); a Shady Plaza where African tulips are planted within the 3, 750 sq. meter-area; and an Open Plaza with a walk-through rainbow drive featuring some collections of potted palms.

It also boasts of 5 interconnected avenues, a 16-meter pond, a Green Theater, what would be called as “The Promenade” for the health-conscious joggers; a Sunken Garden (which can obviously benefit with a more inventive imagination); a 10-meter high waterfalls with a pond made of volcanic rocks; and 8 security cams.

Trivia: The name “People’s Park” won over 918 other name-the-park entries, and it officially opened last December 2007. The grounds used to be the Old PTA grounds. These days, the area teems with activities. There’s a casino and several restaurants around the area. Security is also tight, with active frisking and inspection at the entrance.

As we mentioned last post, the best time to visit the park is at night when the harsh Davao sun has ebbed and the bright park lights illuminate the green green grounds surrounding the park. Entrance is free.

The durian fruit (left) and Singapore's The Esplanade (which is similarly patterned after the durian - aka breadfruit). Jakarta, the Indonesian capital is also nicknamed as "the big durian". Durian plant is endemic in Davao, thus the fruit is being sold almost year round at very cheap price all over Davao.

The fence surrounding the park.


From anywhere in the city, taxi drivers are familiar with the name – “People’s Park” – but for those who feel comfortable name-dropping street names, it is located along Guzman Street, near Casino Filipino and just in front of Whaw Litson-Biik Restaurant (you can’t miss the flagrant billboard of Pinoy food adorning the restaurant). 

Taxis in Davao City are generally cheaper. Make sure you have a flagged down meter as you get inside the car. Taxi drivers, unlike their Manila counterparts, are generally more honest – and will readily return every peso of change that you pay from the meter reading. Round it up to the nearest PhP5 denomination – for good will!

In the last 10 years, the metropolitan streets of Davao have drastically changed. Gone are the ubiquitous rundown, kakarag-karag (“kagang-kagang”) non-AC KIA cars. Current taxis are glistening new AC Toyotas and Nissans. There are the occasional eyesore taxis, but their franchise has, thankfully, only until December this year. Davao taxis total to about 3,600 – and the new ones are beautifully maintained!


I was surprised to find a Robinson’s Mall but this has limited area (a supermarket) and no movie hall. SM Lanang Premier recently opened from what used to be Lanang Golf grounds. Ayala Center Davao is also expected to be constructed in the same area which will, surely, decongest the city center!

Oh yes, it's beginning to look a lot like that season again...

Decked in festive Christmas lights and poinsetias, the Visitor's Center looks warm and bright at night.

Interactive fountain...

Colorful murals (above and below)

(Visayan-to-English Survival Phrases)

Though the city is a mixed-dialect hub (people interchange their tagalog with their visayan, and a smattering of English thrown in), you can try your survival visayan:

Maayong adlaw = good day
Pila kini = how much is this?
Nawala ku – I’m lost
Tabang = help
Mahala oy = it’s expensive
Barato = cheap
Wala bay discount? = isn’t there a discount?
Kapoy na ko = I’m tired
Wa na koy kwarta = I don’t have money.
Asa ang __ = Where is ____?
Kagwapo man (or kanindot) = it’s beautiful
Lami man = it’s delicious
Daghang salamat = Thank you
Walay sapayan = You’re welcome (it’s nothing)

Terminal fee at the Davao International Airport is PhP200 ($4.20). And you have to take off your footwear (slippers, shoes) as you check in at the pre-departure area. (Davao runs flights to some Japanese cities and other Asia-Pacific destinations.)

Quack, quack...

Well illuminated avenues at the park

Cherubs frolicking.

A dark alley leading to the sunken garden (which used to be a swimming pool).

Sunken Garden

Durian Dome

Whaw Litson-Biik Restaurant along Guzman Street, right across the park.

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