» Davao City

DAVAO CITY is the regional center for Davao Region (Region XI) and is considered to be the most important cities in the Philippines, the de facto capital of the island of Mindanao. It also has the largest land area in the Philippines, bounded by the highest peak of Mount Apo, Davao Del Norte in the north and partly on the east side, and Davao Gulf. Davao is an independent province though usually grouped with Davao Del Sur for statistical purposes.

Davao City boasts of its international airport and seaport as one of the busiest cargo hubs in the Southern Philippines. The place is also the center of various BPO operations. Significantly, the city earns high annual revenue. The city’s strategic location makes it the center of trade not only in the Southern Mindanao region or the whole of Mindanao but also in the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA).

In the early 18th century even before the Spaniards came there is already an existing community of Bagobos, Mandayas, B’laan, Mansakas, Manobos, Atas, Tagacaolos, Guiangan and the Moros. A group of expeditionary led by Don Jose Uyanguren came to establish a Christian settlement in the area and likewise built a small chapel and named Nueva Vergara in honor of Uyanguren’s hometown in Spain. Davao was then ruled by a Moro chieftain, Datu Bago, who held his settlement at the banks of Davao River (once called Tagloc River by the Bagobos). After Uyanguren defeated Datu Bago, he renamed the region Nueva Guipozcoa, in honor of his home in Spain, and became its first governor. Uyanguren's efforts to develop the area, however, did not prosper.

Then in 1858, a military government was established in Nueva Vergara and was named the fourth district of Mindanao. Since then Nueva Vergara became known by its native name, Davao. According to the City archives, “Davao” was derived from the phonetic blending of the word of three Bagobo subgroups calling the hinterlands of the region as Davoh, Duhwow or Davau, and Dabu. At that time, the area already has 30,000 inhabitants and only 30% of the population was Christians. The economic condition of the people did not improve at all during the Spanish regime. There was no significant economic activity established during this period.

The American occupation started in 1890 and gave birth to a Military administration. It was during this year that Davao was noticed as having a rich potential in agriculture development. Private farm ownership grew and transportation and communication facilities were improved.

In 1903, Davao became a home to some Japanese migrant workers who contributed much to the economic advancement of Davao through the development of vast abaca plantations used in the processing of hemp. Other agricultural crops include coffee, rubber, and cotton. They had their own school, newspapers, an embassy, and even a Shinto Shrine. On the whole, they established extensive abaca plantations around the shores of Davao Gulf and developed large-scale commercial interests. Filipinos learned the techniques from the Japanese and later on agriculture became the lifeblood of the province's economic prosperity.

Davao formally became a chartered city on March 1, 1937 by President Manuel L. Quezon. However the coming of the Japanese in 1941 brought fear among Davaoeños, and a big population evacuated to the outskirts of the city. When peace and order was re-established some Davaoeños came back in the city and engaged in “buy and sell”, farming and government employment. Schools in the city were opened and the Nippongo language was taught to the students, side by side with the National Language and English. However life was still not in normal condition due to the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers. After World War II city development progressed and more industries were established from logging, copra, banana, corn, abaca, ramie, mining, and fishing. Afterwards banana production took over as the leading export product. Today, Davao City is the fastest growing cities in the Philippines.


Davao City has a total land area of 2,443.61 square kilometers and is considered as one of the largest cities in the world. It is a place blessed with natural advantages due to its fertile soil and the area is rich in non-metallic minerals. The City has an abundant source of potable water too both from underground and surface. Davao is strategically located in the Asia-Pacific rim that served as a gateway for both western and eastern hemispheres of the world.

The total land area is 50% classified as timberland or forest and agriculture utilizes about 43%. The land has big plantations that produce banana, pineapple, coffee, and coconut. Other areas are used for residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial purposes that comprise about 10% of the total land area. Under the approved land use plan built-up and settlement area will cover 15% of the total area while agricultural will be maximized with 67.19%. The remaining 17.68 will be devoted for forest and conservation.

Currently, the City has a population of 1.4 million in 240,057 households and with about 2 million people present during daylight hours. Its population growth rate is 2.83%.

Predominant language used is Bisaya followed by the Filipino language (Tagalog). English is the medium of instruction in schools and is widely understood and spoken especially in the business community.

Davao has modern infrastructures within the City such as airport, seaports, roads, bridges, and telecommunications that helped in the economic growth of the City over the past years.

The Davao International Airport is the busiest airport in Mindanao. Currently, the newly renovated airport can already accommodate wider-bodied jets such as the Boeing 747. Additionally, construction of more roads and bridges are being taken such as the City’s third major road, the Buhangin underpass that was recently completed. Davao was also ranked no. 5 among cities in Asia with better traffic flow based on vehicles per kilometer of city road due to its better Traffic Management and Computerization Scheme.

Two government seaports, the Sasa Wharf and the Sta. Ana Pier and 9 privately owned ports are present in the area. There is also a fish port called the Toril Fish Port Complex that accommodates small and large-scale fishing activities and provides cold-storage facilities. Davao also has an adequate communication links or telecommunication facilities, more than 60 banks, 22 financing companies, 9 lending firms operating in the city, and consular offices as well from various foreign governments.

The city has a uniform distribution of rainfall, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. It has no pronounced wet or dry season and is typhoon-free. Good weather makes it highly conducive to agro-crop production, and temperature ranges from 20 °C to 32 °C.

Davao is multi-cultural appreciating differences in culture and tradition by numerous ethnic groups that integrated easily to the local tribes even during the early years. Fiesta is also being observed and celebrated in the City wherein songs, dances and other forms of arts and merrymaking from various cultures evolving creatively into the rich culture of Davao now:

  • Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival – This is a week-long celebration that starts every March 16 of the year. The festival showcases socio-civic parade, band parade, food street party, part extravaganzas and the much-anticipated search for the "Mutya ng Dabaw", the city's Ambassador of Goodwill. There is also a pop music song writing competition, concerts, arts and culture presentations, and various sports competitions.

    “Kadayawan” for Dabawenyos is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

Davao boasts of its fruit plantations and ornamental flower gardens such as the rare and endemic specie of waling-waling (Vanda Sanderiana).  Fruit products are bananas, pomelos (a kind of local grapefruit); and the ever famous “King of Fruits”, Durian. Other plantation products are abaca, ramie, corn, rice, coffee and coconuts.

Davao City is also called as the Fruit Basket of the Philippines due to its various fresh fruits produce such as watermelon, the sweetest mango, the more succulent pomelo, rambutan, banana, mangosteen, lanzones, strawberry, pineapple, avocado, langka, buko or have a bowl of fresh fruit salad.

It is only here in Davao where you can find the exotic Durian (the King of the Fruits or the Fruit of the Gods) serving as the fruit of good and evil with its strong aroma (or pungent odor) overpowered by its heavenly taste which you would not want to exchange for anything.

The most dominant group is the Roman Catholic at 83.83%, other Christian groups comprise 15% and the remaining 1.17% belongs to other non-Christian faiths (Islam, Buddhism, etc). Christian churches and chapels dot the city’s landscape along with some temples, mosques, and other places of worship.

LIST OF “BARANGAYS” (or communities)
Davao City has a unique local government set-up with a designated deputy mayor by the city mayor. Although an appointive official only, the deputy mayor serves as a direct link to the city mayor especially for people living outside the city proper. The deputy mayor also serves as the city mayor's representative in community events, complementary to the functions of the city vice-mayor.

The city is politically subdivided into 184 barangays.


Davao City boasts of its finest beach and mountain resorts and Philippines’ most captivating diving spots as well as its highest peak, Mt Apo. Other tourist destinations are:

This memorial is a historical marker symbolizing the longest battle between the troops of the American forces and of the Japanese Imperial Army that took place in Mintal, Tugbok District.

This Camp is located in San Pedro St. and used to be the quarters of the Spanish, American soldiers in the 1920s.

This Church was built in 1847 in honor of St. Peter, the city's patron saint. The old altar is preserved at the right wing of the cathedral. It is the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Davao.

Davao City has become the preferred destination for conventions and conferences since 1990. Major conventions are being conducted here all year round.

Modern, sophisticated, and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for conventions and conferences are available and complemented by the establishment of new first class hotels and mountain resorts.

This Church was built in 1847 in honor of St. Peter, the city's patron saint. The old altar is preserved at the right wing of the cathedral. It is the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Davao.

The City Hall is situated in San Pedro Street and this was constructed in 1926.

DAVAO MUSEUMbr /> The museum is situated in Insular Village I, Lanang and houses indigenous tribes’ artifacts and photographs of historic events and history of pioneering families.

This is a popular mountain resort located 40 minutes away from the city proper. It is situated 3000 ft above sea level, giving it a cool and moderate climate. The place is 95% man made with pine trees dotting the landscape covering 40 hectares of land.

This is the site where Muslim hero Datu Bago settled and governed over the Tagloc River, the old name of Davao River.

The plantation is situated in Toril. This is an abaca plantation which was acquired from the Bagobos as a result of the Otha Public Land Act in 1903.

This is situated in the Matina Shrine Hill which is a local mecca of the city's Roman Catholic devotees.

Islam is also one of the major religions in the city with several places of worships in the City.

This museum is situated in Calinan and offers historical accounts of the Japanese community residing in Davao before and during the war including tools used for abaca plantations, currencies, publications, among others.

The shrine is located in Mintal. Japanese war veterans and their kin take a pilgrimage to visit this memorial shrine during the All Souls' Day of Japan which is held in August.

This tunnel features a restaurant with a free entry to the main tunnel that the Japanese created in the time of the Japanese Revolution.

The temple is situated in R. Cabaguio Avenue and is considered to be the biggest Buddhist temple in Mindanao.

This memorial is located in Gov. Generoso Bridge, in honor of Armando Generoso who died in the very site of the bridge while defending it from the Japanese invaders during World War ll.

This temple houses the holy icons of the Taoist religion.

This marker was built in honor of Col. Yamada who defended Mintal during the war. This is also the site where McArthur, Stillwel and Eichelberger visited.

The monument is situated in San Pedro St. and was unveiled during the Philippine Centennial in 1998 depicting the peaceful relationship of the migrant and indigenous inhabitants of Davao in the last 100 years.

Old Japanese houses can be found in Mintal, Tugbok and Toril Districts. The place also used to be warehouses and where abaca is processed before and during World War II.

This Park was also known before as the Plaza and used to be the settlement of the early Davaoeños.

This shrine is located inside the Mintal Elementary School that was built in honor of Otha Kyosaburu who invoked the Public Land Act No. 926 of 1903.

The Pearl Farm Resort is situated in a secluded island off the coast of Davao city. This 11-hectare spread was once a pearl farm, where thousands of white-lipped oysters, transported from the Sulu Sea, were cultivated for their pink, white and gold pearls. Today, the resort beckons with the promise of a relaxing private retreat.

This Samal Island resort is famous for all travelers due to its white sand and a zoo as an added attraction, just a 5 minutes boat ride away from its drop off point at Lanang.

The Center located in Malagos, a 45 minutes drive from the city proper is home to the Philippines National Bird, The Philippine Eagle (previously named Monkey Eating Eagle), and the largest eagle in the World. This is where they are bred in captivity in order to increase their population and prevent extinction. It also houses other exotic animals native to Davao's forest.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation, Inc. was organized in 1987 to implement programs such as captive breeding management, field research, community-based enterprise development, and conservation education.

The shrine is located in Buhangin District in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The shrine features series of steps which leads to the main chapel.

The beach features sunken warships during the World War II that can be found just 200 meters from the shore.

This site is where Don Jose Oyanguren, the Spanish conqueror landed and who later became the Governor of Davao.


The Davao International Airport (DIA) has daily flights to and from major cities in the Philippines and twice-weekly flights to Singapore, Manado, Indonesia and Palau. It is one (1) hour and 40 minutes away from Manila (the country’s capital) by plane and only 30 minutes away from Cebu City. The city can also be accessed from other major cities in the Philippines by air such as Zamboanga City, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Bacolod City and Iloilo City. The airport is a 15-minute ride from Davao City center. Metered taxicabs are also available.

The City is the gateway to the Philippine South, thus it has regular air, sea, and land linkages to major points in the country.  For more inquiries regarding sea travel to Davao City, please call your travel agent.