It’s almost time for Kadayawan!
The biggest, grandest and most colorful festival of Davao City is happening on August 19-21, 2011. Locals say it’s an event you truly shouldn’t miss. And it is somethings that I don’t wanna miss…but have to. 😦 It escaped my mind during the sale season of CebuPac and AirPhil for August, and now the ticket prices have skyrocketed way over my budget limit. Additionally, August 22-26 is a big week for us in the Project so I can’t risk getting stuck in Davao (though it’s actually ok coz I can spend more time with BF) and not being able to return on the 21st.
Anyway, if I can’t go with you, I’ll at least write some posts about Davao and help make the most of your stay! I’ve already written about one of my favorite places, Cake Galerie. It’s for your sweet tooth’s sake, so give in to the craving. Haha. 😀 Anyway, this post is about the Francisco Bangoy International Airport aka Davao International Airport.
This was the first airport I have been in while working for the Project. (Imagine, getting dispatched on a regional-via-flight trip on your second week? Not to mention the first trip just three days after starting to work?! Good deal, eh?!). According to Wikipedia, this airport is named after Francisco Bangoy, the patriarch of a landed nobility (aka as old rich family) after he donated land (see!) for the airport’s operations in the 1940s.
I was impressed by the airport’s cleanliness (especially since the interior is mostly white all over, except for the colorful billboard-type ads of Hotels and Restaurants). And, it sort of looked like NAIA Terminal 2: classic airport bridge, arrival/departure walkway and pre-departure area bordered by glass.
It has only one conveyor belt (Terminal 2 has three) for luggage though. And it can take a pretty long time for all the luggage to be delivered if you are on a Boeing 737 flight like the one we had. So, for your convenience or simply if you are in a hurry, avoid checking-in your luggage. Definitely saves you time and even money if you took a CebuPac flight. But, if you have so much to carry around, of course check-in! Saves you the hassle and energy. Your pick. 😀
The arrival area has one restroom set, for males and females. It’s simple, clean and functional. Well, for the ladies at least . Of course I have no way of knowing for the gents! Anyway, ours have three (or four) cubicles, with the last as the PWD-friendly one.
There’s no one here when the shot is taken (I dunno how it happened) but surely, this gets busy often. So, I suggest you go peepee at the plane already, before deplaning, especially if you’re having difficulty with bladder control. For your quick reference, the restroom is found on the left side of the baggage claim area and is easily noticeable even before getting to the conveyor belt.
From the baggage claim area, you can proceed to the forward-left side for the exit. Before that, you’ll see a counter of hotels where you can book just in case you failed to find a place to stay. Needless to say, most of the hotels in the counters are the relatively posh-ish and pricey-ish ones. So I advice checking out some hotels or budget hostels before your arrival.
I think the priciest are Marco Polo Hotel, Apo View Hotel and Waterfront Insular Hotel (which explains why I’ve never slept in any of the three). I have slept though on probably one of the cheapest, My Hotel, where I pay as low as P250/night for a single fan room without TV and with shared bathroom. Mid-range hotel will probably be the likes of Casa Leticia and with apartment-like or guesthouse style accommodations at Jogue’s Apartelle. (I’ll try my best to get some more info and contact details for accommodations in another post)
Anyway, if you already booked a hotel and arranged for shuttle service (I believe it’s with extra cost), you can find your chauffeur (naks!) waiting for you outside holding out a placard of some sort bearing the name and/or logo of your temporary home.
For those without shuttle service, once you pass the chauffeurs area, there are “agents” offering you shuttle service via some sort of a coupon taxi or rent-a-car service. I guess this is great for people who are balikbayans and are bringing in a lot of balikbayan boxes and/or big suitcases. Perhaps also for those who live in the outskirts of the city or in the Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur areas (like 1.5-2hrs travel to reach the provincial capitals Tagum City and Digos City).
However, if you’re traveling alone or are just a group of four (max) and is just headed in the city areas like Matina, Buhangin, Obrero etc. or the downtown area where most of the action is, you can just walk past the agents and head for the taxi bay. To reach the taxi bay, you’ll have to cross the solar-power glass like shed, a white tent and the road (with the blue shed for pedestrians) used by private vehicles picking up or dropping off passengers.
After crossing the road, you’ll get access to the stairs (or ramp for PWD and pushcarts) leading to the parking lot and taxi bay area. It’s also a waiting area for passengers whose car services has not yet arrived. As per experience, taxis don’t really run out at the taxi bay coz actually, there are more of them parked outside, as in just before entering, the airport compound.
And unlike taxis in Manila (embarassing but must be admitted), you wouldn’t have to worry about the taxi services in Davao. Everything is metered and rightly so. I guess this stems from the “strict” and “with tooth” policies of then Mayor Duterte. So far as my experience, only one taxi quoted us a “contract rate” when we arrived on a rainy night. Since we were already tired and the price he quoted was not so high than the regular meter rate for our destination, we agreed. When I shared this to my Davao friends, they sort of lectured me and said that I shouldn’t give in to such agreements as it instills a bad habit among the taxi drivers. So it’s a lesson learned for me. 😥
Anyway, on the far right of the taxi bay, you’ll notice one of the most artistic ways to welcome tourists and locals alike into Davao: the giant sculpture of a quarter-opened Durian fruit with people inside instead of the actual durian seeds. According to a blog post I read, the people inside the Durian are actually the Lumads (indigenous people), Muslims and Settlers–the three groups who make up the Davao population.
Anyway, the astounding sculpture is only one among the many jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring bigger than life sculptures of Davao’s most famous artist, Kublai Milan. You’ll definitely see more of his works while strolling around Davao. Or if you’re an art junkie like my friend, you can go to Ponce Suites Unconventional Center (or even book your room there!) for more sculptures, paintings, art pieces, photographs and other works of Kublai. Actually, even for normal folks like me, visiting Ponce is a must-do in the list, especially if you are a first-timer!
Anyway, there you have it. Welcome to Davao City and happy wandering!