The region’s name is derived from its Bagobo origins. The Bagobo were indigenous to the Philippines. The word Davao came from the phonetic blending of three Bagobo subgroups’ names for the Davao River, a major waterway emptying into the Davao Gulf near the city.
The aboriginal Obos, who inhabit the hinterlands of the region, called the river Davah (with a gentle vowel ending, although later pronunciation is with a hard v or b); the Clatta (or Giangan/Diangan) called it Dawaw, and the Tagabawas called it Dabo. To the Obos, davah also means “a place beyond the high grounds” (alluding to settlements at the mouth of the river surrounded by high, rolling hills).
The population of Davao City is 1,632,991 according to the 2015 census. Metro Davao, with the city as its center, had about 2.5 million people in 2015, making it the third-most-populous metropolitan area in the Philippines and the most-populous city in Mindanao.
Although Spaniards began to explore the Davao Gulf area as early as the 16th century, Spanish influence was negligible in the Davao region until 1844, when the Spanish Brigadier General Agustin Bocallan claimed the area in what is now Davao City for the Spanish Crown, despite opposition by the Sultan of Maguindanao. Davao was then ruled by a chieftain, Bago, who had a settlement on the banks of the Davao River (then called the Tagloc River by the Bagobos).
The development of large-scale plantations faced a labor shortage, and workers were contracted from Luzon and the Visayas (including Japanese laborers from the Baguio, Benguet road construction). Many Japanese became landowners, acquiring lands by government lease or buying American plantations.
Second World War
On December 8, 1941, Japanese planes bombed the harbor and from December 20, 1941 landed forces and began an occupation of the city which lasted to 1945. Davao was among the earliest to be occupied by Japanese forces, and the city was immediately fortified as a bastion of Japanese defense.
Residents of Davao City and the whole Davao Region are colloquially known as Davaoeños
Davaoeño Cebuano, a sub-variant of Mindanao Cebuano, is the most widely spoken language in the city. English is the medium of instruction in schools and widely understood by residents.
Famous people from Davao
Rodrigo Duterte – lawyer, politician and mayor of Davao City (1988-1998, 2001-2010, 2013-2016); 16th President of the Philippines (2016-present)
Alfredo E. Evangelista – archeologist
Candy Gourlay – Filipino author based in the United Kingdom
Randy Halasan – winner of the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, for nurturing his Matigsalug students and their community to transform their lives in ways that preserve their integrity as indigenous peoples in a modernizing Philippines
Julius Medidas – Famous person and Entertainer from Davao City
Franklin Bautista – politician; elected to two terms as a Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the Second District of Davao del Sur
Marc Douglas Cagas IV – politician; elected in 2007 as a Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the First District of Davao del Sur
Antonio Carpio – incumbent Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
Teodoro Casiño – politician, activist, writer and journalist; was a member of the House of Representatives for Bayan Muna
Sara Duterte – lawyer and politician; current mayor of Davao City (2010-2013, since 2016), was the first woman to hold the position
Vincent Garcia – politician; elected to three terms as a Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the Second District of Davao City
Antonio Lagdameo, Jr. – politician; husband of actress Dawn Zulueta; a scion of the wealthy family in Mindanao, the Floirendos; public servant
Romeo Montenegro – peace advocate
Prospero Nograles – former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines
Corazon Nuñez-Malanyaon – governor of the province of Davao Oriental
Allan L. Rellon – Filipino politician
Isidro Ungab – politician, former banker, former local legislator of the City of Davao
Wanda Tulfo-Teo – businesswoman, and current secretary of Tourism
Manuel Zamora – politician; elected to three terms as a Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, representing the First District of Compostela Valley
Carlos Isagani Zarate – member of the Philippine House of Representatives, representing Bayan Muna Party-list
Agriculture remains the largest economic sector comprising banana, pineapple, coffee and coconut plantations in the city. Bearing the nickname as the “Fruit Basket of the Philippines”, it is the island’s leading exporter of fruits such as mangoes, pomeloes, bananas, coconut products, pineapples, papayas, mangosteens and cacao.
The chocolate industry is the newest development in the city. Malagos Chocolate, developed here by Malagos Agriventures Corp., is now the country’s leading artisan chocolate recognized worldwide
The Davao Gulf provides a living for many fishermen. Some of the fish products include yellow fin tuna, brackish water milkfish, mudfish, shrimp and crab.Most of the fish catches are discharged in the fishing port in Barangay Toril, which are then sold in the numerous markets within the city.
Phoenix Petroleum is a multinational oil company based here is the first company to be in the PSE Composite Index outside Metro Manila. Industrial plants such as those of Coca-Cola Bottlers, Phil., Pepsi-Cola Products, Phil., Interbev Phil Inc. and RC Cola Phil., companies located in the city, as well as fruit packaging-exporting facilities, food manufacturing plants and a very huge number of business establishments ring the city.
There are a number of cultural-heritage sites in the city, including the Davao Museum (in Insular Village, Lanang), the Mindanao Folk Arts Museum (Philippine Women’s College, Juna Subdivision, Matina), Davaoeño Historical Society Museum (at Magallanes and Claveria Streets) and the Philippine-Japan Museum (Matsuo Compound, Calinan). Japanese historical sites include the Japanese Tunnel (used by Japanese forces during World War II), the 20th-century Japanese cemetery and the Furukawa Fiber Plant (used by Yoshizo Furukawa as an abacá and banana plantation)
Landmarks and Historical Places
Davao City Hall
Marked Structure, NHCP
Ipinatayo bilang gusaling munisipl ng Davao, 1926. Nilagdaan ni Pangulong Manuel L. Quezon ang Commonwealth Act No. 51 na bumuo sa Karta ng Lungsod ng Davao, 16 Oktubre 1936. Pinasinayaan ni Kalihim Elpidio Quirino ang Kata sa harapan ng gusali, 1 Marso 1937. Nasira nong panahon ng digmaan, 1945.Muling ipinatayo ayon sa orihinal na disenyo, 1947. Sentro ngpamahalaan sa pagtaguyod ng Davao bilang pangunahinglungsod sa silangang bahagi ng Mindanao noong panahon ng mga Amerikano.
Davao Penal Colony
Carmen, Davao del Norte
Marked Structure, NHCP
Established 21 January 1932. This is the first penal colony founded under the administration of a Filipino director of prisons, Lt. Col. Paulino Santos. The official and prisoners of the colony were transferred by the Japanese forces to Iwahig penal colony 8 November 1942; served as evacuation center for residents of Davao City during the early part of World War II; used as concentration camp for American prisoners of war. Colony was re-opened 2 August 1946.
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
Mount Hamiguitan, Davao Oriental
ASEAN Heritage Park; UNESCO World Heritage Site
Parish Church of San Salvador Del Mundo
Caraga, Davao del Norte
Important Cultural Property, National Museum
Ipinatayo ni Padre Pablo Pastells, S.J. yari sa kahoy, korales, atbato, 1877.
Santa Ana Port
Marked Structure, NHCP
Dinaunga ng mga unang manggagawang agrikltutal na Hapon sa Davao, Mayo 1903.
Simbahan ng Caraga
Caraga, Davao Oriental
Marked Structure, NHCP
Ipinatayo ni Padre Pablo Pastells, s.j. kaagapay si Padre Juan Terricabras, s.j. yari sa kahoy, Korales at bato, 1877. Natapos ang simbahan at naging parokya sa patronato ni San Juan Savador del Mundi, 1884. Nagsilbing sentro ng misyon ng mga heswita sa pagtatag ng mga Pueblo at pagpalaganap ng ebanghelyo sa silangang bahagi ng Mindanao noong panahon ng mga espanyo.
Insular Village I, Lanang
The Davao Museum showcases the history, culture and crafts of the various tribes in the region, including the tribes of Mandaya, Tiboli, Mansaka, B’laan, Manobo and Baghobo. The museum also features the earliest archeological finds in the Philippines, including pottery, jars, vases, tribal clothing and jewelry pieces.
Davao City Bay Walk
Beside J. Palma Gil and Jose Camus Streets
The new city landmark is barraged by people from all walks of life, and of every age. On its busiest days, it is here where you’ll be able to witness how cosmopolitan the city of Davao is. The park is also conveniently located near the downtown area and is flanked with dining amenities from almost every side. The nearest place for tourist or local visitor accommodation is the Apo View Hotel. The Royal Mandaya is also just some walking distance away.
The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and cilantro, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain.
Guinanggang, or ginang- is a snack food of grilled skewered bananas brushed with margarine and sprinkled with sugar. It originates from the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It literally means “grilled” in Cebuano. Ginanggang is made from a type of banana in the Philippines called saba (a cooking banana also known as the Cardaba banana). The banana is peeled, skewered and then grilled over charcoals. The sugar used on it is also white table sugar and is not caramelized.
Pakfry is derived from the words paksiw and fry. As the name suggests, it goes through two processes to cook. The first step is to cook it with vinegar and spices and then deep fry it for a crispy texture. Pakfry is made from a tuna buntot (tuna tail) which is abundant inMindanao. The best place to try this uniquely Davao dish is at Palovince Restaurant in Dakudao Avenue, Davao City.
If you want to have a taste of Durian and you’re not adventurous enough to try the fresh pulp, try the Durian Cheesecake. The best place to have it is at Lachi’s Restaurant in Marfori Heights. Lachi’s also serve green tea cheesecake and sans rival which are equally good.
Davao is known for its many varieties of Durian available all-year round. The best time to try them is During Kadayawan season since the price per kilo would drop to about P25.
The Philippine eagle, the country’s national bird and considered the largest eagle in the world, is endemic to Davao.