The largest city in the Philippines is all-abuzz now, thanks to its flourishing business and tourism sectors. But how can you maximise your stay if all you’ve got is a day and a half? Maritess Garcia Reyes shares the trick

The City of Davao is expansive—talk about a land area of 2443.61 square kilometres. While figures appear daunting and the thought of exploring this massive city sounds tiring, you actually enjoy it even on a quick visit. What if you go only for a quick business trip and all you’ve got is a day and a half free? Here, we list some activities that can give you what Davao City has to offer in a nutshell. From vast farmlands to world-class establishments, there is something to soothe your soul and your palate when in Davao.

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Check out Malagos Garden Resort and indulge in its award-winning Philippine chocolates and interactive bird show.

Known for its tree-to-bar chocolate, family-run homegrown brand Malagos has a reputation for bringing chocolates that have gone through ethical and sustainable farming of strict quality standards. No wonder, it has garnered several prestigious global awards including the most recent 2018 International Chocolate Awards – World Final. Its Malagos 85% dark chocolate and Malagos Rhum bagged the Silver awards while the Malagos Salted Caramel and Malagos 72% unflavoured dark chocolate got the Bronze recognition.

Just a quick 45-minute drive to the district of Calinan is the Malagos Garden Resort—the Puentespina’s family ancestral farm—where you can enjoy in different family-friendly activities. Take time to visit the Chocolate Museum where kids and adults alike will learn a lot about chocolates—from history to production and making the actual chocolate itself, you are sure to indulge in chocolate haven.

Also in the resort is the family’s ancestral home that was turned into a wellness spa. Not your ordinary spa, treatments here use 65% chocolate infused with olive oil, as well as pure cocoa butter.

A definite crowd pleaser is the interactive bird show conceptualised by Dr Roberto “Bo” Puentespina, one of the siblings running Malagos. The first and only full production free flight bird show in the country, it is a nature discovery experience activity that aims to encourage environmental awareness with love and respect for animals.

All of these activities can be done in less than a day, complete with a scrumptious buffet lunch featuring the resort’s signature pork humba with Malagos chocolate and beef caldereta with Malagos cheese.

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Wine and dine at Marco Polo Hotel Davao

The iconic Marco Polo Hotel is located right in the centre of bustling Davao, and its location makes it an ideal place to stay in the city. A stone’s throw away from business hubs and with facilities that are suitable for corporate functions, it is no doubt a perfect venue for business and leisure trips alike.

Within the hotel are excellent dining options such as Lotus Court for exquisite Chinese cuisine (the homemade tofu and the prawns in salted egg are to die for); Café Marco for all-day dining; and Polo Bistro for delectable intercontinental à la carte fare complemented by a mesmerising poolside view. If you happen to be in the city just in time for the hotel’s popular pool party (they host several in a year), make sure to reserve a slot as it gives you a different take on Davao nightlife.

The hotel is right across Aldevinco, a one-stop shop for all things local in Davao. For the stylish ladies, there is an array of scarves, sarongs, and the fashionably chic tangkulo (a triangular beaded scarf handsewn by the Bagobo tribe) on offer here. Around the shopping centre’s corners are fruit stands that sell Davao’s lauded pomelos, mangosteen, durian, and marang.

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Tatler Asia

Chill out and indulge in proudly Filipino-made cheeses at Leon’s Lounge

Nestled within the Puentespina’s Garden in Agdao, Leon’s Lounge is the perfect backdrop for the Filipina cheesemaker, Olive Puentespina, the woman behind the artisanal Malagos cheeses. From blue goat cheese to the bestselling mango sublime, you are sure to be delighted with every slice placed on the cheeseboard.

Bring your friends (a minimum of eight and maximum of 10 persons is required for each session) and indulge in five artisanal cheeses paired with a refreshing salad, breads, and condiments. Stories behind each artisanal cheese creation are shared to make the activity more interesting. Strictly by appointment, the cheese tasting sessions happen from 5:00-7:00 pm, and is a perfect prelude if you are off to have dinner in one of Davao’s famous crab-all-you-can or tuna restaurants, or if taking a late flight from Davao airport.



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