Cotabato to Davao – Mar 6

Up for breakfast with +Dan and some of the staff, then off with Gideon to Davao. We went North of Cotabato, then east across southern Mindanao, leaving the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (I’ve been misspelling Muslim in my earlier posts).

Our first stop was in Pigkawayan to visit a retreat center and recreation area being built by the United Church of Christ Philippines ( UCCP) University, called the Garden of Eden (even the Comfort Rooms (rest rooms)s are marked Adam and Eve). It is a 40 Hector park with swimming pools bamboo cabanas and a retreat and conference center. There are some concrete animals (I wanted to ask why no dinosaurs, but wasn’t sure how our guide would take the question – he’s a UCC minister). We continued through central Mindanao through rice fields and then coconut groves, moving away from the Muslim dominated part of Mindanao. We drove just south of Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain in the Philippines and to the east coast of Davao Gulf, then north to Davao City. Davao city is different from other cities I’ve visited in Mindanao. It’s the largest city in the world in land area and has wide, clean streets, traffic controls, and speed limits (with enforcement cameras at red lights). Our destination for the day was the Davao Episcopal Mission Center with a conference and lodging facility and the diocesan offices. The center has been here for about 10 years before the diocese was created. Davao is the newest diocese in the ECP, created in 2012 from the EDSP.

I spent some time with Irwin, the new webmaster training on the website and had a few minutes with +Jonathan Casimina to talk about my visit and the congregations and ministries of his diocese. The area of the diocese extends to the northern end of eastern Mindanao, with 20 congregations and several out stations. The bishop was busy with visitors from the board of St. Luke’s Medical Center, planning for the building of a cathedral later this year.

I went to dinner with the bishop and diocesan staff to a seafood restaurant on the beach of Davao Gulf. It was set up so you picked the seafood you want from coolers or fish tanks as you enter the restaurant. We had fresh coconut juice (from the coconut) and for dessert they split the coconut to get to the meat inside.

I bought a bottle of wine at the retreat center concession and had a glass of Spanish wine before bed. The rooms are much like in Cotabato, although the toilet has a seat. It’s a little cooler and I’m writing this sitting in a bamboo cabana watching the sun rise and the retreat center manager just brought me a cup of coffee. Today is a tour of Davao city   – one of the oldest cities in the Philippines.


Touring Davao – Mar 6

No early start today as this is a tourist day. With Gideon driving and Irwin as tour guide,, accompanied by a lady friend of Gideon’s and one of the diocesan deacons, we were off. Our first tour stop was the Philippine Eagle project, a part and facility dedicated to preserving the Philippine Eagle and other species of native birds. The center of the project is an effort to artificially inseminate the female eagles as they are not likely to survive in the wild. I bought some souvenirs and we made the walk around the park.

Next was the Japanese Tunnel – a tunnel dug using Filipino slave labor for a headquarters for the Japanese commander of this are in 1942. The tunnel was not rediscovered until 1960 and is privately owned, situated under a hotel and spa resort. There were few artifacts, mostly statues of Japanese soldiers and an empty tunnel. There were a few remains of a weapon in the arsenal.

Our next stop was shopping for a basket, and that took us to the Chinese shopping district where I found exactly what I was looking for. From there we decided it was time for a Halo Halo, so we drove to the big shopping mall to find a Chow King. The shopping mall looks like any high-end mall in the US, except for the security check point at the entrances and armed guards roaming the mall. The Halo Halo was good too.

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to the diocesan center. It took a lot of driving to get to the few places we visited – Davao is a large city and lots of traffic. Imagine Seattle at rush hour and throw in 100,000 bicycles, pedicabs, tricycle motorcycle cabs, and lots of pedestrians.

I decided to put my feet up for a few minutes and woke up at 5:30 pm. It’s been a great trip, but tiring.   I had dinner with the group and we drank a couple of quart-size San Miguel and it was off to bed for a 3 am rise-and-shine for a 4 am departure for Leyte.