Davao: Kadayawan Festival and other trippings

As part of my sister’s wish to attend the various festivals in the Philippines, we also booked a trip to Davao to see the Kadayawan Festival. We were very excited because we’ve never been to that festival even though we’ve been to Davao thrice!

Woke up on the plane to this view!
Woke up on the plane to this view!

Thankfully, despite the rainy weather in Manila, the sun cooperated throughout our long weekend in Davao. In fact, it was so hot, it felt like my skin was burning! Weekend trip tip: Bring sunscreen.

We stayed for one night at our house in Davao, where my cousins live. Thankfully, I’ve booked us a room in Marco Polo because there was no room for us at home. Despite the long weekend, none of my cousins went home to the province because we were visiting. Besides, I also wanted to try the Marco Polo in Davao — another one off my bucket list!

As soon as we landed, we went straight to McDonalds for breakfast. The taxi drivers are so much nicer compared to the ones here in Manila. They will give you the change up to the last peso. And thanks to GrabTaxi, we were able to get discounted fare, too.

After breakfast, we went straight to our house to drop off our bags and meet our cousins. With two cousins tagging along, off we went to Samal Island!

Samal Island in Davao
View from our resort in Samal Island

When we got off the roro at the port in Samal, we rode a motorcycle at P40/head, with two passengers per vehicle. That was pretty expensive, but the road to the resort we chose was pretty difficult to traverse. If you could book a resort with a transfer, that would be so much better.

We were so unprepared for our trip. I thought Samal Island was like Boracay or Panglao where we can just pick any resort and that the access was going to be easy. Nope. Prior to departure, our cousins had made us look up resorts online. We had to pick a cheap one because my sister and I had a budget and we were going to pay for our cousins as well.

20150821_104359_markedAnd when we got to the resort, which had a private gate and the guard wouldn’t let us in without a reservation, we found out that they were already full and we can only stay for their daytime tour. Since the resorts in Samal are pretty far apart, we had no choice but to stay there. Too bad the resort didn’t have any snorkel or boat facilities so we were only able to enjoy the scenery, go swimming in the sea or in their infinity pools. But their pools also had salty water instead of a fresh water respite from the sea.

It was definitely not how I envisioned my trip to Samal Island!Ate Mako was so surprised why I kept saying we had to go there. I forgot the name of the resort, but for the price we paid, it was good enough. You get what you pay for, I suppose. However, despite the forgettable experience we had this year, I’m hoping I can come back, but visit a different part of the island, and book with a different resort!

20150821_223257_markedWe went back to the city in the afternoon and had a quick dinner with our other cousins. My nephew invited us to the street foam party, which was part of the Kadayawan festivities. Along the way I couldn’t help but notice the heavy military presence in the vicinity, yet no one seemed to be bothered or afraid! Our cousins said it’s common in their area to keep the people safe, especially with the ongoing celebration.

I’m not much of a party girl, but it was so much fun! My cousins were so nervous because it was such a crush, and the roads were a bit slippery from all the foam, but it was nice to just dance in the dark and forget all my worries, especially after such a tiring week.

We had to get out soon after because they wanted to go home. I admit I was also afraid because the people started pushing. People pushing + slippery roads = disaster, so I agreed to leave. That foam party was one of my favorite memories of that Davao trip, though!

The next day, we checked in at Marco Polo. We chose the Marco Polo because of its proximity to the festival dance competition (there’s a stage right outside!) and when I contacted them they said access to the stage was free for guests of Marco Polo but on a first come, first serve basis. So at eight in the morning, my sister and I checked in and I asked for two seats to the stage.

They said we can’t because the seats were reserved for those in their membership program. I was so surprised and I complained that we were assured that seats were available to any guests of Marco Polo, but to no avail. My sister and I just walked for thirty minutes under the sun because of the road blocks, we couldn’t get seats to the stage, there was no room available yet, and we were thirsty and so sweaty. The receptionist finally told us we can already avail of the pool area and facilities if we wanted to rest.

But we went to Davao for the festival, so we went to watch the competition instead and ignored the sun, heat, and sweat.

Seeing the colorful costumes and clearly practiced dances performed with so much heart made it all worth it, though!

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There were several stages set, and even though they didn’t dance their full routine at the stage at Marco Polo, there was still a huge crowd! Their energy was certainly infectious and the crowds endured the scorching heat just to watch the lively dances and colorful costumes.

Afterwards, I received a text from Marco Polo saying our room was ready. It turns out they upgraded us from their standard room to a deluxe room so that they can accommodate us early (at only 10am!).

For some reason, they also added an extra single bed and extra amenities even though there were only two of us. Ate Mako opted to sleep in the extra bed. Their extra bed actually felt newer than the king-sized bed, but I wasn’t complaining.

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After a quick lunch and shopping at Aldevinco, we were back at the hotel and enjoyed their pool. Their pool is actually pretty large, and there was plenty of space for everyone. There were two spaces that were roped off for those who wanted to do laps, and my sister and I had fun going back and forth. It was definitely a treat for us because we love to swim but we rarely get the chance to do it unless we’re on vacation.

Afterwards, my cousins and I met up again for dinner. Upon their recommendation and based on reviews online, we decided to go to Perch. We tried the candied bacon, their steak rice, and a slab of steak. The servings are pretty generous for five people. Their cocktail drink wasn’t as tasty as I hoped, although the alcohol was pretty strong.

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We left with full and happy bellies, that’s for sure!

While my cousins went back to the festivities, ate Mako and I went back to the hotel for our spa appointment at Lazuli. Since their air conditioning wasn’t working, we opted to have the massage in our room, although I had my body scrub at the spa. It was pretty relaxing, except for the awkward positioning of the in-room shower. Anyone walking past your room will be able to see you if your room attendant opens the door.

My other complaint with Lazuli is that it took them 30 minutes past our massage appointment for them to go up to our room. Thankfully we already paid for the massages before we got started so we didn’t have to get up after the massage. Even though we were in Davao, we still locked up all our valuables in the in-room safe before we let them into their room. Better safe than sorry.

I think our Davao trip was a half and half success. In terms of enjoying the festival, I think we were able to do so, but aside from that, there were plenty of near misses! I hope our next trip will be so much better.

Thank you for the pleasant stay, Davao!

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