NiceThings in Davao: Crocodile Park & More

Day 4:

Seeing as this was the last day in my Davao birthday vacay, we made sure to make the most of it. Good thing we took the last flight out.

First stop: Museo Dabawenyo

Patintera and I are big fans of art so we squeezed in a visit to Museo Dabawenyo into our last remaining hours in the city.

patintera at museo dabawenyo davao

Patintera taking a snap at Museo Dabawenyo

We weren’t allowed to take photos except for this one painting by the staircase:

museo dabawenyo davao

This painting depicts the three peoples who make up Davao: Muslim, Christian, and Lumad.

We learned that the name Davao came from three names: The Tagabawa called it “Dabo”, the Giangan called it “Dawaw”, while the Obo called it “Davah”. Combining all names, settlers began calling the place “Davao”.

How to get there:

Like most places in Davao, if you’re not a local, it’s best to ride a cab. Most cabbies are nice. In fact, we noticed a significant decline in our encounter with ill-mannered people while we were there. The small percentage of a-holes we came across were staff in our hotel (rhymes with barnacle). Dabawenyos are nice, helpful, and all-around good guys. Thumbs up!

Travel Tips:

Museo Dabawenyo is located in Poblacion District, a few blocks away from the Davao City Hall and St. Peter’s Church. You might want to swing by those two places as well when you’re in the area.

philippine flag in davao plaza

The Philippine flag is flying freely in Mindanao. Let’s keep it that way.

From Museo Dabawenyo, we headed back to the hotel for our check-out. We left our luggage with the concierge before going off to Crocodile Park.

Crocodile Park

We were having second thoughts about going to Crocodile Park since we’re not big fans of motorcycles and we kept reading online that the only way to get there was on a habal-habal.

Well, good thing I refuse to leave anything to chance so on our way back to the hotel, I asked the cabbie about public transportation to Crocodile Park. And guess what? You can take a cab to and from Crocodile Park without breaking the bank. You don’t need to contract a cab to wait for you, stretching your budget beyond limits nor do you have to take the dreadful motorcycle if you’re penny-pinching. You can easily take a cab from the Crocodile Park as you would from a mall. Habal-habal myth busted!

Entrance fee to the Crocodile Park is P200, which also includes entrance to Tribu K’Mindanawan and Butterfly House.

The first thing you see when you enter is the skeleton of a really big crocodile.

crocodile park davao

Crocodile parts at Crocodile Park

Not too far from it is the actual giant crocodile. Patintera wasn’t all convinced it’s still alive since it didn’t move at all while we were there. But I’m pretty sure it’s still breathing. I think?

giant crocodile at crocodile park davao

A ginormous crocodile at the Crocodile Park

The smaller crocodiles were a bit more limber.

crocs at crocodile park davao

These crocodiles like the swamp.

Like the Philippine Eagle Center, which wasn’t all about eagles, the Crocodile Park isn’t all about crocs. It’s home to a pretty interesting collection of creatures.

If you’re gutsy, you can have a close encounter of the third kind with a White-bellied Sea Eagle. Of course, touching is prohibited. And with those sharp talons, you’d be smart to keep your hands to yourself.

white breasted sea eagle crocodile park davao

White-bellied Sea Eagle up close

This gorgeous bird was a bit of a snob.

gorgeous bird crocodile park

Not sure what this bird is called but she’s pretty.

When you see it…

bird at davao crocodile park davao

Another beautiful bird at the Crocodile Park

I think this one’s just a parakeet but the colors are pretty so she gets a spot here:

love bird at crocodile park davao

Gorgeous colors

We stopped by the souvenir shop to get some pasalubong but they didn’t have sealed stock of the shirt I wanted to get for my sister so they pointed me to Tribu K’Mindanawan where the bigger shop is located.

Travel Tip:

Don’t buy shirts, wallets, etc. until you get to the souvenir shop at Tribu. They have a bigger and better inventory. And there are more stores to choose from.

Tribu K’Mindanawan

Now, I love animals as much as the next gal, more if the next gal was Patintera, but all the glorious animal scent didn’t really whet my appetite so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to dining but we had to eat lunch ’cause it’s tradition.

When I first heard about Kaonanan sa Tribu K’Mindanawan I thought it was a must-see for our Davao trip. And walking onto the grounds, I knew I was going to enjoy myself.

tribu kamindanawan crocodile park davao

Kaonanan sa Tribu K’Mindanawan

The place was way more than what I imagined. I expected good food but I did not expect a cultural tour of Davao. Kaonanan prides itself in offering tribal dishes, which is why I wanted to go there in the first place, but what made me fall in love was the palpable local flavor that hung in the air.

tribu kamindanawan crocodile park davao mask

Kaonanan sa Tribu K’Mindanawan’s dining area has interesting conversation pieces

The local indigenous music playing in the background was captivating. The decor was equally inspiring.

patintera at tribu kamindanawan crocodile park davao

The colorful Tribu K’Mindanawan

Not all dishes are cooked and served in bamboo but we ordered those that were:

food in bamboo at kakanonan tribu kamindanawan crocodile park davao

Cooked in bamboo

The Binayong Ajos, Luya, Tanglad na Manok is a Manobo dish of mashed garlic, ginger, and chicken cooked in bamboo.

binayong ajos, luya, tanglad na manok kakanonan sa tribu kamindanawan davao crocodile park

We had an actual Manobo dish. How cool is that? 😀

The waiter insisted that I try the Camote Tops Juice. I wasn’t sure I would like it so I told him I’d try it if he agreed to replace it for free if I didn’t. LOL

Lucky for him, the juice was delish!

binayong ajos, luya, tanglad na manok kakanonan sa tribu kamindanawan davao crocodile park

Camote tops juice for the adventurous me and Buco juice for the wimpy Patintera

Would have loved to try other tribal dishes but we had to rush back to the hotel to pick up our luggage before heading off to the airport. We didn’t even have time to go to the Buttefly House *sob* I was really looking forward to that.

I was extra nazi-ish about the time ’cause I didn’t want to miss our flight. We’ve had some experience in that area and it was costly. So, right after I changed my shirt (it’s hot in Davao), I nagged Patintera about going to the airport. And good thing I did ’cause traffic was bad, like, Manila-bad. But we got to the airport still with time to spare so we grabbed dinner.

I was a bit sad about leaving Davao. It’s just one of those places that agrees with me, you know?

Fun Davao Facts:

  1. The streets are clean. There’s no trash in the streets. None. Even wet markets are clean. Guys aren’t standing around whipping out their privates to do their business on the street like it’s the most normal thing in the world. If Davao was a girl you invited to dinner, you’d think she was raised well. Davao is a well-mannered, educated lady.
  2. Davao is typhoon-free. The mountains plus their environmentally sustainable way of living keeps them safe from the wrath of Gaia.
  3. People are nice. Living in Manila, the niceness of Davaoenos will be noticeable to you. No one’s rushing to “get there first” so everyone’s relaxed on the streets. No one’s insecure about their life and limb so people aren’t rude and abrasive.
  4. It’s safe. Not for criminals. But for those who live within the bounds of law, it’s perfectly safe 😉

I hope to see Davao again soon. Or maybe we can bring Davao to the rest of the country. That wouldn’t be so bad now, would it? *wink*


NiceThings in Davao: Philippine Eagle Center

Day One of my birthday vacay was A.MA.ZING.

Day Two wasn’t as exciting though. We ended up cooped up in the hotel for the entire day. Patintera had to finish writing a speech so I decided to catch up on my zzzs.

patintera nice things at pinnacle davao

Taking a break from writing for a selfie.

We did step outside a bit for lunch. We decided to stay close to the hotel so we explored G-Mall, just a block away.

I was so thrilled to find an art gallery that also sells indigenous products. Got Heart has really great art but I opted to get Kablon Farms dark chocolates for my mom and Sikwate tableya for myself.

got heart installation davao

Got Heart installation outside the shop, located at The Peak on top of G-Mall Davao City.

I could have stared at their pieces all day.

patintera at got heart davao

Patintera admiring the art at Got Heart — and thinking about the possible investment.

I’m still accepting birthday gifts, BTW, and I’m just gonna put that right here. 😉

dumaguing got heart davao

This piece by Dumaguing is simply mesmerizing.

Day 3: Philippine Eagle Center

We were thinking of going to Samal Island but we’d already lost a day so we decided to spend the rest of our vacay hitting the parks instead.

How to get there:

From our hotel in the city (I’m not gonna name it because it sucked but it rhymes with barnacle), we took a cab to the Annil Transport terminal found a few steps from the corner of San Pedro St. and Quirino Avenue. They have Coasters that will bring you to Calinan Public Market for P50 each. From there, we contracted a tricycle driver to take us to the Philippine Eagle Center, wait for us, and bring us back to the terminal for P250.

patintera nicethings philippine eagle davao

On our way to the Philippine Eagle Center.

The Philippine Eagle Center is located inside the Malagos Watershed Reservation. To enter the complex, you pay P5 per head, a small fee that goes to the Davao City Water District.

patintera nicethings malagos watershed davao

At the Malagos Watershed Reservation.

Entrance fee to the Philippine Eagle Center itself is P150.

philippine eagle center davao

Welcome to the Philippine Eagle Center.

The Philippine Eagle Center is home not only to the Philippine Eagle but also to a host of other animals and interesting plant species.

philippine mouse deer phillipine eagle center davao

This Philippine Brown Deer took a break from his snack to give us a fairly decent shot,

White-bellied Sea Eagle be like “Take the photo already!”

white bellied sea eagle philippine eagle center

This White-bellied Sea Eagle had a lot to say. He was the only one in the whole park who was screaming at the visitors.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that I luuurve trees.

philippine eagle center trees patintera

Gorgeous trees at the Philippine Eagle Center.

But I have to admit, none took my breath away like the majestic Haribon did.

philippine eagle pag-asa davao

Philippine Eagle Pag-asa is quite photogenic.

There are stalls outside the Malagos Watershed selling souvenirs. I got a malong for myself and Patintera got a malong, sarong, and keychains for pasalubong.

On our way back to town, we asked our tricycle driver to stop by Malagos Garden Resort so we can take home their famous dark chocolates. This side trip (plus him waiting over an hour for us while we were in the Philippine Eagle Center) cost us extra P50 but we didn’t care, we went home all giddy from our nature and cacao high.

Travel Tip:

Keep your eyes peeled inside the Philippine Eagle Center. There are limited directional signs to follow so if you’re like me and you get confused easily at a simple turn, you might miss out on the other attractions. Good thing, I wanted to make the most of our trip that I was uncharacteristically mindful of the corners I haven’t explored yet.

philippine eagle center davao path

Just follow the unlabeled path.

The heat in Davao is no joke. So, we were pretty beat after spending an entire day outside. After dinner, we went back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Day 4 concludes our adventures. Watch this space for our trip to Museo Dabawenyo, Crocodile Park, and Tribu K’Mindanawan.

Day 1: NiceThings at Wow, Davao!

I knew my birthday this year was going to be great with a booked trip to Davao and all but I did not expect it to be as amazing as it was.

I spent the day at Aboitiz Foundation’s Cleanergy Park along with BFF Patintera. It’s an 8-hectare sanctuary for the critically endangered Hawksbill pawikan turtle and was developed by the Foundation through the support of various Aboitiz businesses in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

What made this trip spectacular was witnessing Cleanergy Park staff transferring pawikan eggs to a protected hatchery.

Here we’re talking to Fermin Edillon, Community Relations Manager of Davao Light, who oversees the transfer of the pawikan eggs.

Kuya Rotchie is carefully transferring the eggs, making sure they are positioned exactly as they were found in the original pit

I love having as many firsts as possible but this is definitely the best this year so far. And I doubt anything will beat it before the year ends.

pawikan eggs at cleanergy park with kuya rochi

Check out the date. These babies were transferred on my birthday. Hi-hi!

Pawikans only lay eggs where they were themselves laid and hatched. So, this pawikan mom was hatched right here at this marine sanctuary some 20 to 30 years ago, too.

pawikan eggs at cleanergy park

Pawikan eggs are soft and have a rubbery texture. They should be handled carefully and the Cleanergy Park has trained personnel to perform this task.

Sadly, we won’t be around to see the hatchlings but I pray that all 120 eggs make it to maturity. Statistically, though, only 1% of hatchlings make it to adulthood due to predators and natural elements. 😦

Talking about the Cleanergy Park, it also has a boardwalk winding through mangroves and made from 90% recycled wood. The mangrove forest protects the park itself from soil erosion and flood.

cleanergy park jade

Jade Gamas, Davao Light’s spunky CorpComm rep, shows us that mangroves serve as a buffer to protect the coast from strong waves during typhoons.

It’s important to keep reaching out and educating people about how important it is to take care of our only home. As a favorite Joey Ayala song goes, “Karaniwang tao, saan ka tatakbo kapag nawasak iisang mundo’? No, karaniwang tao, the answer isn’t Mars.

nicethings ph at cleanergy park beach

Let’s show marine sanctuaries some love by helping to preserve these areas and educating people about marine life conservation.

After our trip to Cleanergy Park, our friends from Davao Light — Fermin, Jade, and She — were kind enough to show us a bit of the sites in Davao City .

They took us up to Jack’s Ridge, which has an amazing view of the city at night.

view from davao

Davao Light at work.

We capped the tour with a trip to one of Davao’s most sought after restaurants: Palo Vince, the Pakfry King.

nice things at palo vince davao

Playing with the biggie fishy.

Pakfry is piece of tuna fish tail cooked as paksiw, deep fried, then drizzled with paksiw sauce. Pak! Fry! #ParaSaEkonomiya

palo vince pakfry davao

My birthday dinner: Palo Vince’s Pakfry, Sinigang na Bangus, and Crispy Pata #NomNomNom

Since we were staying in Davao for four days, we decided to get groceries before heading back to the hotel. Fermin and the gang dropped us off at SM Lanang, which also turned out to be a treat.

sm davao fountain show

SM Lanang Premier has nightly fountain show worth seeing if you ever visit Davao City

When we finally reached the hotel, Patintera couldn’t let my birthday pass without giving me a cake so we got one at the lobby. Thank you, BFF!

nice birthday cake pinnacle davao

A happy birthday indeed.

It even came with a surprise greeting after her shower:

happy birthday nice pinnacle davao


My birthday vacay turned out even better than expected. Davao trip day 1 concluded.

Stay tuned for the next installment and more adventures in the south.

#WeatherWiser #NiceThingsPH

You and your Makati colleagues are planning to go for a night-out in BGC when you start to wonder if the heavens won’t be raining on your parade.

Looking out the window, you see skies are clear so it probably means that it won’t be raining in Taguig tonight, right? Wrong.

weatherwiser nation nice things

Be #WeatherWiser

The only way you can be sure is if you had access to localized weather forecast that is so area-specific, it can tell differing weather conditions easier and clearer than the blurred lines of those two cities.

#wotd travel

Nice travels in a tropical country with seemingly unpredictable weather is possible. Empower yourself.

All you have to do is download the Weather Philippines app from Google Play Store or Itunes.

Weather Philippines App

The Weather Philippines App is available for both IOS and Android.

With 750 Automated Weather Stations in major cities and municipalities across the country, you can easily map out your routes and routines for the next five days.

You can even monitor all areas that are important to you (home, honey’s office, mom’s place, baby’s school, etc) and customize the profiles by changing the icon to their photos for quick-glance recognition.

weather wiser mobile app

The Weather Philippines Mobile App features color-coded weather warnings based on world meteorological standards.

Mom isn’t an app kind of gal? No worries, you can easily share her area’s weather status through Facebook.

Now, you’re probably wondering how I got so #WeatherWiser, right?

Well, Weather Philippines was kind enough to host a learning event in Anvaya Cove to help us understand the importance of being a #WeatherWiser traveler.

weather philippines at anvaya

Weather Philippines’s welcome was warm and sunny 😉

Nice Things is now an empowered traveler thanks to #WOTD reports from Weather Philippines

live nice #wotd

Live. Explore. Be Nice.

Sir Manny Batungbacal of Mountain Hardwear gave us the basics of mountaineering.

weather philippines basic mountaineering course 1

Basic Mountaineering Course courtesy of Mountain Hardwear

The essentials of mountain climbing or even city living should now include the Weather Philippines app.

weather philippines climb list

Essentials of Mountain Climbing as discussed by Sir Manny of Mountain Hardwear

Accurate weather forecast is made possible with these powerful equipment Weather Philippines puts up strategically across the country. Current count is 750. Target is 1,000.

weather philippines equipment

From left: Automated Weather Station, Rain Gauge, Lightning Detector

Weather Philippines partners with private corporations to bring this service to as many localities as ideal. Platinum donors shell out P25M spread out over a 10-year period while Gold donors give US$2,500 which is the cost of one Automated Weather Station.

Of course, I wasn’t going to waste a rare trip to Anvaya Cove without exploring.

anvaya cove foyer

Anvaya Cove Entrance

anvaya cove sand beneath my toes

Happy feet

anvaya cove beach

Anvaya Cove Beach

anvaya cove pools

Anvaya Cove Pools

anvaya cove shore

Looking for a souvenir to add to my collection


Singapore 2015 Part 3: Food, Fun, Friends, and Da Vinci

It felt like we didn’t have enough time to really experience Singapore but I’m glad we got to enjoy what mattered most and then some.

My top five favorite lil’ red dot moments: (drum roll)

5. Food, food, and more food

singapore food

My favorite food from the lil red dot.

4. Dropping by Books Actually (yes, that’s a real cat) books actually 3. Finding Boo

boo the world's cutest dog

Boo is the world’s cutest dog

2. Da Vinci: Shaping the Future at ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands

da vinci shaping the future

To say Da Vinci was a genius is an understatement. His mind stretched limits that made impossible impossible.

and the top lil red dot moment is…

1. Wild surprises

at the manila bay sands singapore

Photo credit to Patintera’s left hand lol

Singapore 2015: Food, Fun, Friends Part 2

After grabbing lunch, we walked down the street some more since we don’t get to do it a lot back home. I had second thoughts about snapping this photo since security is fiercer at Istana but I just found those majestic trees too breathtaking to resist.

istana singapore

Istana is the official residence of the President of Singapore

Found our way to Ngee Ann City where we did some shopping. Ok, I didn’t really buy anything since I went there with SGD 20 in my pocket but I’m lucky to have a super bff who got me this really great gift:

Found Boo in Singapore

Found Boo in Singapore

One more thing I love about Singapore is the diverse choices of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood.

fresh fruits in singapore

This pomegranate is a bit too pricey for me though

All that strolling left us exhausted so we went back to the hotel for a nap.

hotel re marilyn monroe elevator

Marilyn brought us up to our floor.

Travel Tip: Cars in Singapore drive on the left side of the road. Be mindful when crossing.

hotel re driver

Cars in Singapore are driven from the right side.

Read More

Singapore 2015: Food, Fun, Friends

Patintera and I have been planning this Singapore trip since forever. It’s been six years since we stepped off the plane that brought us back home from the little red dot. Having lived in the city-state for a year then, I felt like I was leaving behind my second home.

So, this trip back to Temasek was a homecoming of sorts for me. I planned to revisit my favorite places and grab a bite of my favorite Singaporean eats.

But the real highlight of the trip was our surprise for our friend, Franz, who had been asking us to visit him since we came back to Manila. This fine city may not be known for affordability but the look on Franz’s face as we show up outside his office would be simply irresistible.

We booked as soon as another seat sale went up. It was a six-week wait to the actual trip and I almost slipped to Franz a number of times, nearly ending chat convos with “see you soon”. Good thing my fingers aren’t as quick as my mouth. LOL

D’ day came and we were ecstatic. We almost missed our flight, though, no thanks to someone’s tardiness *cough* Patintera *cough*. As soon as the cab pulled up at NAIA Terminal 3, we ran like crazy people looking for the Cebu Pacific counter for flights bound for Singapore. As expected, it was the one making its last call.

It was a good thing Patintera checked us in online and that we didn’t have check-in luggage. That saved us a good deal of time.

I had to run across the terminal to pay our travel tax and run back to the Cebu Pacific counter only to be greeted with a troubling “Ma’am, best effort po tayo, ha?” which meant they couldn’t guarantee that we’d actually get on the flight. Yikes!

Read More

The Singapore I Adore: The Lee Kuan Yew Dream

A lot can be said about Singapore’s most polarizing leader, Lee Kuan Yew. Ask any local and you’ll get a very passionate thesis that is either strongly for or against him.

But as a tourist, I only have good things to say about Singapore’s founding father. Singapore is the city I adore because of him. I feel safer in the little red dot than I do in my own country without it being so far removed from the familiarity of the Asian culture. And for this, I will always remember Mr. Lee Kuan Yew with fondness.

The well-planned, beautifully designed city-state is such a refreshing refuge.

singapore management university

Outside the Singapore Management University (SMU). Trees make the difference in urban landscaping.

Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum opens its doors for free on Friday evenings. Too bad we missed it.

singapore double decker bus

The absence of unsightly and dangerous power line cables makes the use of double decker buses possible everywhere.

singapore street sculptures

Strict, no-nonsense law enforcement protects and preserves street art installations.

trees in singapore

In Chinatown, pocket gardens are the norm.

safe, well-lighted streets of singapore

One can safely walk the streets of Singapore at night

I wish you a peaceful rest, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Thank you for the Singapore I adore.

Traveling Up North: Baguio

The Papal Visit gave us five days of vacation time so my friends and I traveled up North for some much-needed r&r. My good friend Ciara invited us to her hometown Agoo, La Union where we savored the pleasures of provincial life. Tito Dan, Ciara’s dad, was kind enough to drop us off at the bus stop where we took one headed for Baguio. With the wind blowing in our hair, we excitedly took groufies (not a mental disorder — yet).

baguio from agoo

Gilbert, Ciara, Patintera, and moi are headed for Baguio from Agoo

I felt giddy as the bus began to zig and zag uphill on a snake road, a classic sign you’re nearing Baguio. With the wind turning chilly and prompting us to put on our sweaters, I eagerly awaited to reach a familiar landmark – the Victory bus station, UP, or that tree-murdering mall – but traffic was so bad I’ve lost all excitement at being in Baguio before we even got off the bus. I guess one downside of having a five-day holiday in Metro Manila is everyone goes up North. Read More