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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Philippines - Seeing the Sea In Davao del Sur

Davao del Sur, Mindanao Island - One of the great things about roaming this peaceful province is that wherever you go, you're just a few minutes away from the beach. It is blessed with the bluest seas. It is a land embraced by lush vegetation to the west and the clear Davao Gulf to the east. Those skyscraper-tall coconut trees are an amazing reminder of the past. How come? Many of them were planted by the Japanese army during their occupation 6-7 decades ago. Not a lot has changed.


Most beaches open to public are either free of charge or require dirt-cheap entrance fees: Leling Beach - PhP20; Seagull Inland Resort (not beach side) in Barangay Guihing, Municipality of Hagonoy - free entrance; Bolinao Beach in Barangay Dawis - free; Dawis Beach - P30/car, P10 for a pedicab (trike); Eagles' Eye Beach Resort (Malalag) - free entrance but concrete seats without a shelter is P150 while a basic cottage is a ridiculous P250; Villa Isabel Resort in the municipality of Malalag - P10/adult and P5/child. Where else do you find such rates? What could be cheaper than a free entrance?

Here's an introspective poem I'd like to share, from a talented wordsmith named Sidney Lanier:

March Song... At Sunset

Over the monstrous shambling sea,
Over the Caliban sea,
Bright Ariel-cloud, thou lingerest:
Oh wait, oh wait, in the warm red West, --
Thy Prospero I'll be.

Over the humped and fishy sea,
Over the Caliban sea
O cloud in the West, like a thought in the heart
Of pardon, loose thy wing, and start,
And do a grace for me.

Over the huge and huddling sea,
Over the Caliban sea,
Bring hither my brother Antonio, -- Man, --
My injurer: night breaks the ban;
Brother, I pardon thee.


In its reference to the Caliban seas, Lanier refers to the
feral, sullen, misshapen creature in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Caliban is Prospero's beastlike slave; the son of a sorceress and the sole inhabitant of an island. Curiously, the Caliban represents the native people's suffering under imperialist oppression. Perfect for Davao del Sur's rich historical past under the Japanese regime.
This is the Eye in the Sky!

The lighthouse near Eagle's Eye Beach Resort in Malalag, Davao del Sur

Reflections in Barangay Leling in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

Eagle's Nest Beach Resort, Malalag, Davao del Sur

Dawis Beach

A deserted spot in Villa Isabel Resort. Malalag, Davao del Sur.

Fish pen in Malalag, Davao del Sur.

Visual poetry

Previous post: More photos and basic information about Davao del Sur here -

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Philippines - Serene Charm in Idyllic Davao del Sur

In the island of Mindanao, south of the Philippines, lies the province of Davao del Sur. Nope, this isn't Davao City (which everyone is familiar with), Davao del Norte (which encompasses Pearl Farm Resort), or Davao Oriental (which I have yet to visit). This is a stretch of land characterized by the richest agricultural soil, rolling hills rich in flora, a vicinity teeming with the country's most exotic fruits, and the Pacific seas as its eastern border! Except for its contiguous neighbor of Cotabato City to the west and General Santos City further south, this rich conglomerate is a bastion of peace.

Its capital is Digos City and the province borders Davao City to the north, and Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and Sarangani to the west. To the east lies Davao Gulf. It has a land area of 3,900 square kilometer and a population of 830,000. Its municipalities include: Bansalan, Don Marcelino, Hagonoy, Jose Abad Santos, Kiblawan, Magsaysay, Malalag, Malita, Matan-ao, Padada, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria and Sulop. Sarangani (where boxing champ Manny Pacquiao recently won a seat for Congress) is now part of General Santos City. It used to be part of Davao del Sur!

Davao del Sur was ironically founded by its Japanese colonizers in 1942, but it didn't take long before the Davao guerillas helped free it from its "captors" - with the help of the Americans who then assumed the rule of the land. Language is Cebuano or Visayan, with a great majority alternating Tagalog with ease. English is widely accepted as the language of commerce and instruction (education).

Digos City is roughly 75 kilometers south of Davao City (the country's biggest city). It's an almost 2 hour ride along beachside communities and undulating hills of sugarcane, coconut, Mango and Banana trees, and grazing lands. The roads are some of the best maintained thoroughfares in the country. When navigating the area, Digos City would make a reasonable basecamp. A plane ride from Manila takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cebu Pacific seat averages P2,500 ($55.30) one-way if booked 5 days or so prior to the trip.

There are sites that are being briskly developed for local and foreign tourists.These accelerated developments make the region an exciting area to explore. There are plenty of off-the-beaten tracks.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

A fishpond in Leling, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

Dawis Beach, Digos City. An afternoon frolic.

A child diving away!

Dawis Beach

Father and child. Bolinao Beach, Barangay Dawis.

Clusters of very sweet lanzones (langsat in Malaysia, duku in Indonesia, tongue -wisting gadu guda in Sri Lanka, bonbon in Vietnam. In rural Visayas, some people refer to it as "buwahan". Nutritional composition is a rich supply of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C and iron.

Bounty of Davao del Sur. Huge prawns. This lot costs PhP480 ($10.60) a kilo.

Fresh catch.

All cooked.


Lechon de leche!

Bananas as far as the eyes can see in La Panday Plantation. This was taken from Padada Bridge (formerly Guihing Bridge).

Ostrich taking her close-up. Seagull Inland Resort, Barangay Guihing, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

Seagull Inland Resort.

Seagull Inland Resort

P100 (about $2) cottages in Leling Beach.

Eagle eyed fry catcher. This lady is "harvesting" those almost microscopic baby milkfish ("bangus"). They are smaller than tadpoles, thus I am in awe of how they can catch these "fries" (once bigger, they become "fingerling" and would fetch a higher price) from the raging waves of the seas. They collect these fries then sell them to a nursery in Digos City they refer to as "Dipalubos Bodega". Fishpond farmers who grow "bangus" (milkfish) buy these "fries" in thousands from the bodega.

Dusk in Leling (pronounced "lee-leeng").

Silhouette dreams

Parked away. A bangka in Malalag, Davao del Sur.