the shores of southeastern Mindanao, Davao del Sur is a place of natural
wonders and rarities. It boasts of the country's highest peak - Mt.
Apo, the most prized Philippines orchid species like the vanda sanderiana,
some of the most exotic fruits and the endangered Philippine Eagle.
Davao del Sur is home to a host of ethnic groups whose culture and
way of life have been preserved. These are the Bagobos, the Mandayas,
the Mansakas, the Atas, the Kalagans, the Tagakaolos and the Mangguangans.
Their arts and crafts are on display in museums and shops.
There is a wide choice of white sand beaches and resorts. In the city,
there are numerous hotels and inns. Dining is good and varied. Nightlife
Some of the popular sports activities are golf, watersports and mountain
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Located in the
southeastern corner of the country's southernmost island of Mindanao,
the province of Davao City in the north to Sarangani Island in the
south. It is bounded by the province of Davao (formerly Davao del
Norte) to the north; the Celebes Sea to the south; North Cotabato,
Sultan Kudarat and South cotabato to the west ; and Davao Gulf to
the east. With a land area of 6,377.6 sq.km., the province is composed
of sandy beaches and outlying islands; agricultural plains and valleys;
rainforests; swamps; rolling hills and mountains including the Philippines'
highest peak, Mt. Apo (3,144 meters).
Davao City, the premiere city of Mindanao, is located in the northeastern
part of the province, at the head of the gulf. In terms of land area,
Davao City is the world's largest city (244,000 hectares). The mighty
Davao river runs through the city. Davao is divided into eight political
district : baguio and Paguibato in the north; Calinan and Tugbok in
the central part; Bunawan, Bahangin and Talomo in the east ; and Toril
in the south. The capital of Davao del Sur is Digos, found in the
central part, 57 kilometers south of Davao City.
Davao enjoys a mild, pleasant climate all year round. Because of its
topographical characteristics and geographical location, it is rately
visited by typhoons. There is no pronounced wet of dry season. The
coolest months are from November to February with an average temperature
of 25 degrees Celsius. during the peak summer months from March to
May, temperatures average 28 degrees Celsius but may rise as high
as 32 degrees.
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Davao City is 1,545
km. from Manila. Considered the premier gateway to the south, Davao
is serviced by an international airport. Philippine Airlines flies
twice daily to Davao from the Philippine capital (one hour and 35
minutes away) and from Cebu (55 minutes away). There are also flights
from Zamboanga (daily; one hour and 20 minutes) and cagayan de Oro
(Four times a week - MWth. Sat - 35 minutes). From Manado, Indonesia,
Bouraq Indonesia Airlines flies to Davao twice weekly and Hongkong
to Davao via Cebu and vice versa also twice weekly. major shipping
lines service the Davao area from Manila and nearby southern points.
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derives its name from the ancient Bagobo word "daba-daba" or fire
which they used for their rituals. The tagabaua tribe, on the other
hand, called the river bisecting the region "Daba" and the Guiangan
tribe "Davoh". The Davao region was already an ethnic melting pot
way before the Spaniards arrived. Its eastern shores were occupied
by the members of the Manobo, Tagacaolo, Guiangan, Bilaan and Aeta
tribes. The western part was inhabited by the Bagabo and Mandaya tribes.
Samal and talicud Islands belonged to the Samal tribe.
Davao was first visited by the Spaniards, led by Alvaro de Saavedra,
in 1528. Lopez Villalobos explored Manay, Baganga and Sarangani Island
later in 1543. The first Spanish settlement was established in 1591
in Caraga (Davao Oriental). However, the entire region remained under
the Sultanate of Maguindanao. It was only in 1844 that the ruling
Sultan ceded Davao to Spian. Still, the Muslim inhabitants refused
to be ruled by Spaniards. So Spanish forces, led by Don Uyanguren,
quelled the revolt and killed Muslim leader Datu Bago in 1847. Uyanguren
became the first governor of Guipozcoa (an area that now comprises
Davao City and environs). In 1900, the Japanese established extensive
plantations of abaca around the Davao Gulf and engaged in fishing,
logging and trading. The number of Japanese steadily increased such
that the area was called Japan kuo (little Japan). It had its own
Japanese embassy, school, Shinto shrine, Buddhist temple and newspaper.
The Moro province was organized in 1903 with Davao as its district.
In 1914, the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was created and Davao
was one of its provinces. Davao City received its charter when Elpidio
Quirino formally inaugurated it on March 16, 1937. The post-war years
saw an influx of "pioneers" from all over the Philippines trooping
to Davao in search of opportunities. In 1967, Davao was subdivided
into three independent provinces : Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur
and Davao Oriental.
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Davao del Sur is
an ethnic mix of Mindanaons, Visayans, Tagalogs, Chinese, Japanese and
Spanish with a number of indigenous tribes scattered in the central
plains and the western shores of the Davao Gulf. The city of Davao
has a small population of 892,000 inhabitants spread across a vast
244,000-hectare land. Cebuano is the main language although English
and Pilipino are widely spoken.
Ata people live in some areas of Davao City all the way to Davao del
Norte and Bukidnon. They are related to the Manobos of Cotabato and
include sub-groups such as the Talaingod of the Kapalong forests in
Davao del Norte and the Matigsalug. Numbering about 222,000, Ata men
wear long-sleeved shirts, carry spears, hunt, log and grow crops.
Their womenfolk wear native blouses, "malong" skirts and accessories
of brass bracelets and bead necklaces.Mandaya and Mansaka are culturally
related groups who are highly musical - playing the five string bamboo
guitar, two-string lute, violin, flute, gong, drum and bamboo jew's
harp. They are also excellent silversmiths crafting breastplates,
jewellery, daggers and knives. The Mandayas are famous for their colorful
abaca fiber weaves embroidered with tribal motifs.
In both groups, women generally wear handwoven abaca tube skirts,
embroidered blue cotton tops and heavy jewellery. Men sport wide blue
or white fringed and embroidered trousers and a loose shirt. Red is
a color only for a headman ("bagani") and for women of high status.
live in an area that extends from Davao del Sur and South Cotabato
to the foot of Mt. Apo and Davao City all the way to the land bordered
by the Davao and Pulangi rivers and up to northern Cotobato and southeast
Bukidnon. Numbering about 80,000, their traditional costume is woven
from abaca fiber and heavily ornamented with beads, shells, metal
discs, embroidery and brightly-colored geometric applique. Though
Bagobos have the most stunning costumes among the Davao ethnic groups,
they wear them only on special occasions. Like the Mandayas and Mansakas,
they shave their eyebrows to a thin line and file and blacken their
teeth. Bagobo smiths cast little bells which are attached to pouches,
bracelets, jackets, anklets and inlaid metal boxes.
number about 23,000 and occupy the area between the western shores
of the gulf and the slopes of Mt. Apo. This is one of the tribes which
resisted Muslim conversion and maintained a highland animistic culture.
are a Muslim group related to the Tagacaolos. Numbering only about
7,000, they live along the shores of the Davao Gulf.
are now only 3,000. They can be found in Davao del Sur and Davao del
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The colorful artistic heritage of Davao stems from
the rich culture of its tribes. For the Bagobos, aesthetics is the
meticulous carving of weapons; the elaborate decoration of inlaid
metal boxes with bells; and the ornamentation of their abaca fiber
dress with embroidery, shells, beads and metal discs. The Mandayas,
on the other hand, have a solid tradition in weaving. To produce their
famed coarse textured cloth, abaca fiber is colored with earth dyes
and woven on a backstrap loom.
The final product is embroidered with bright-colored threads in geometric
patterns. Some elements of tribal folklore are also included in the
designs. The Mansakas, together with the Mandayas, are also expert
silversmiths. They craft weapons, breastplates and dress accessories.
Davao is also a harmonious blend of Christian and Muslim cultures.
However, its most stunning cultural aspect is definitely its ethnic
art which encompasses music, dance, religious ritual, dress and ornamentation.
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