Davao City, officially the City of Davao, is a 1st class highly urbanized city in the island of Mindanao, Philippines. The city has a total land area of 2,443.61 km2 (943.48 sq mi), making it the largest city in the Philippines in terms of land area. It is the third-most populous city in the Philippines after Quezon City and Manila, and the most populous in Mindanao. As of the 2015 census the city had a population of 1,632,991.
It is geographically situated in the province of Davao del Sur and grouped under the province by the Philippine Statistics Authority, but the city is governed and administered independently from it. The city is divided into three congressional districts, which are subdivided into 11 administrative districts with a total of 182 barangays.
Davao City is the center of Metro Davao, the third-most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines. (As of the 2015 census this had a population of 2.5 million, compared with Metro Manila's 12.8 million and Metro Cebu's 2.8 million.) The city serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao, and the regional center of Davao Region. Davao is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. The city is also nicknamed the "Durian Capital of the Philippines".
Although the 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 Governor General of the Philippines Narciso Clavería ordered the colonization of the Davao Gulf region, including what is now Davao City, for the Spanish Crown. Despite protests by the Sultan of Maguindanao, official colonization of the area, however, began in 1848 when an expedition of 70 men and women led by José Cruz de Uyanguren of Vergara, Spain, landed on the estuary of the Davao River the same year, intent on colonizing the vicinity. Nearby, a settlement was situated on the banks of the river, ruled by a Muslim Bagobo chieftain named Datu Bago.
Being the strongest chieftain in the region, Datu Bago imposed heavy tribute on the Mandaya tribes nearby, therefore also making him the most loathed chieftain in the region. Cruz de Uyanguren has orders from the higher authorities in Manila to colonize the Davao Gulf region, which included the Bagobo settlement on the northern riverbank. At this juncture, a Mandaya chieftain named Datu Daupan, who then ruled Samal Island, came to him, seeking for an alliance against Datu Bago. The two chieftains were archrivals, and Cruz de Uyanguren took advantage of it, initiating an alliance between Spain and the Mandayas of Samal Island. Intent on taking the settlement for Spain, he and his men accordingly assaulted it, but the Bagobo natives fiercely resisted the attacks, which resulted in his Samal Mandaya allies to retreat and not fight again. Thus, a three-month long inconclusive battle for the possession of the settlement ensued which was only decided when an infantry company which sailed its way by warships from Zamboanga came in as reinforcements, thus ensuring the takeover of the settlement and its surroundings by the Spaniards while the defeated Bagobos fled further inland.
After Cruz de Oyanguren defeated Bago, he founded the town of Nueva Vergara, the future Davao, on 29 June 1848 in an area of mangrove swamps which is now Bolton Riverside, in honor of his home in Spain and becoming its first governor. Almost two years later on 29 February 1850, the province of Nueva Guipúzcoa was established via a royal decree, with the newly founded town as the capital, once again to honor his homeland in Spain. When he was the governor of the province, however, his plans of fostering a positive economic sway on the region backfired, which resulted in his eventual replacement under orders of the colonial government.
The province of Nueva Guipuzcoa was dissolved on 30 July 1860, as it became the Politico-Military Commandery of Davao. By the clamor of its natives, a petition was given to the Spanish government to eventually rename Nueva Vergara into Davao, since they have called the town as the latter long from the time of its founding. It was eventually done in year 1867, and the town Nueva Vergara was officially given its present name Davao.
The Spanish control of the town was unstable at best, as its Lumad and Moro natives routinely resisted the attempts of the Spanish authorities to forcibly resettle them and convert them into Christians. Despite all these, however, such were all done in the goal of making the governance of the area easier, dividing the Christians both settlers and native converts and the Muslim Moros into several religion-based communities within the town.
During the Philippine Revolution
As the Philippine Revolution, having been fought for two years, neared its end in 1898, the expected departure of the Spanish authorities in Davao became apparent—although they took no part in the war at all, for there were no revolutionary figures in the vicinity save a negligible pro-Filipino separatist rebel movement in the town of Santa Cruz in the south. When the war finally ended, as the Spanish authorities finally left the town, two Davaoeño locals by the names of Pedro Layog and Jose M. Lerma represented the town and the region at the Malolos Congress of 1898, therefore indicating Davao as a part of the nascent First Philippine Republic.
The period of Filipino revolutionary control of Davao did not last long, however, as the Americans landed at the town later the same year. There was no record of locals offering any sort of resistance to the Americans.
At the very instant the Americans began their administration of the town in 1900, economic opportunities quickly arose as huge swathes of its areas, mainly lush forests and fertile grasslands, were declared open for agricultural investment. A result of this, foreign businessmen especially Japanese entrepreneurs started settling the region, staking their claims on the vast lands of Davao and turned them into huge plantations of coconut and banana products. In just a short period, Davao changed from a small and sparsely-inhabited town into a bustling economic center serving mainly the Davao Gulf region, heavily populated alongside natives by tens of thousands of settlers and economic migrants from Luzon, Visayas and Japan. All of this led the Port of Davao to be established and opened the same year, in order to facilitate the international export of agricultural products from Davao.
Davao was incorporated as a part of Moro Province from 1903 to 1914. When the province was dissolved in 1914, it led to the establishment of Davao Province, with Davao town as its provincial capital. What is now the city's Legislative Council Building served as the provincial capitol. It was built in 1926, the same year the Davao Municipal Hall, now the City Hall, was constructed.
Because of the rapidly increasing progress of the town, on March 16, 1936, congressman Romualdo Quimpo from Davao filed Bill 609 (passed as Commonwealth Act 51), creating the City of Davao from the town of Davao and the municipal district of Guianga. The bill called for the appointment of local officials by the president. By that time, the new city was already mostly populated with Japanese businessmen and settlers who then became its locals. Davao was inaugurated as a charter city on 16 October 1936 by President Manuel L. Quezon; the charter came into effect on 1 March 1937. It was one of the first two towns in Mindanao to be converted into a city, the other being Zamboanga.
Second World War
On December 8, 1941, Japanese planes bombed the harbor, and from December 20 they 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.
The city was subjected to extensive bombing by forces led by Douglas MacArthur before American forces landed in Leyte in October 1944. The Battle of Davao towards the end of World War II was one of the longest and bloodiest battles during the Philippine Liberation, and brought tremendous destruction to the city, setting back the economic and physical strides made before the Japanese occupation.
Davao regained its status as the agricultural and economic hub of Mindanao after the war ended in 1945. Wood products such as plywood and timber, and More agricultural products being produced within the city, such as copra and other varieties of banana, became available for export. Some Japanese locals — 80% percent of the city's population prior to the war's end — assimilated with the Filipino population, while others were expelled from the country by the Filipino locals, due to recent enmity.
In 1967, the was divided into three provinces: Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur. The city of Davao became part of Davao del Sur; no longer the provincial capital, it became a commercial center of southern Mindanao. During the 1970s, Davao became the regional capital of southern Mindanao; with the reorganization, it became the regional capital of the Davao Region (Region XI) and highly urbanized city in the province of Davao del Sur.
Conflict inside the city became severe, murders in the streets occurring very frequently. This situation lasted until 1985, when locals formed the vigilante group "Alsa Masa" (People's Rise) to drive the causative elements from the city.
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 inhabitants in 2015, making it the third-most-populous metropolitan area in the Philippines and the most-populous city in Mindanao. In 1995, the city's population reached 1,006,840 inhabitants, becoming the first city in Mindanao and the Visayas and the fourth nationwide to exceed one million inhabitants. The city's population increase during the 20th century was due to massive immigration waves coming from other parts of the nation and the trend continues to this day. It is projected to surpass Manila's population by 2020 to become the second-largest city in the Philippines.
Residents of Davao City and the whole corresponding Davao Region are colloquially known as Davaoeños. Nearly all local Davaoeños are Visayans (the majority are Cebuanos, with the rest being Hiligaynons), while others of different ethnicities collectively categorized as the Lumads make up the remainder of the local population. The Moro groups of the city are the Maguindanaons, Maranaos, Iranuns, Tausugs and the Sama-Bajaus. Non-Filipino Asians such as Indonesians, Malaysians, Taiwanese, Chinese Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese and Indians have settled and made small communities in Davao City. Non-Asian foreigners such as the Americans and Europeans are also present in the city.
Cebuano is the most widely used language in the city and its satellite cities and towns. English is the medium of instruction in schools and is widely understood by residents, who often use it in varying professional fields. Aside from Cebuano, Chavacano and Hiligaynon are also widely used in addition to languages indigenous to the city, such as the Giangan, the Kalagan, the Tagabawa, the Matigsalug, the Ata Manobo, and the Obo. Other languages spoken in the city include Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama-Bajau, Iranun and Tausug, followed by East Asian languages such as Hokkien, Japanese and Korean.
The majority of Davao City's inhabitants are Roman Catholics comprising 80% of the population. Other groups, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo, Miracle Crusade, Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch) and followers of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, comprise eighteen percent of the city's religious background. Seventh-day Adventists, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Philippine Independent Church and Baptists are the other Christian denominations. The remaining two percent belong to non-Christian faiths, mainly Islam. Some of the other faiths are Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, animism, Judaism and the non-religious.
The Restorationist Church Kingdom of Jesus Christ had its origins in the city. Apollo Quiboloy, who claims to be the "Appointed Son of God", is the leader of the movement.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Davao is the main metropolitan see of the Roman Catholic Church in southern Mindanao. It comprises the city of Davao, the Island Garden City of Samal and the municipality of Talaingod in Davao del Norte; under its jurisdiction are the three suffragan dioceses of Digos, Tagum and Mati (the capital cities of the three Davao provinces). Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Archdiocese of Davao, appointed on February 11, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI, took office on May 22, 2012, at San Pedro Cathedral. Saint Peter, locally known as San Pedro, is the patron saint of the city.
Davao is part of the East Asian Growth Area, a regional economic-cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia.
According to the foundation, the city has a projected average annual growth of 2.53 percent over a 15-year period; Davao was the only Philippine city to reach the top 100. As the largest city economy in Mindanao, Davao City also serves as the largest local economy in southern Philippines.
Agriculture remains the largest economic sector comprising banana, pineapple, coffee and coconut plantations in the city. 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. On the other hand, Seed Core Enterprises is the country's biggest exporter of cacao to Barry Callebaut. Durian which is locally grown and harvested in the city, is also a notable export, although banana is the largest fruit export in the city. Local corporations like Lorenzo Group, Anflo Group, AMS Group, Sarangani Agricultural Corp. and Vizcaya Plantations Inc. have operations and headquarters here. Multinational companies like Dole, Sumifru/Sumitomo and Del Monte have their regional headquarters here also.
The Davao Gulf provides livelihood 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.
The city also serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao and is also one of the financial hubs of Mindanao. is a multinational oil company based in Davao City and is the first company in the Philippines-based outside Metro Manila to be in the PSE Composite Index. Several industrial plants such as those of Coca-Cola Bottlers, Phil., Pepsi-Cola Products, Phil., Interbev Phil Inc. and RC Cola Phil., companies are located in the city. There is also a number of fruit packaging-exporting facilities, and food manufacturing plants as well as industrial construction plants such as Holcim Philippines, Union Galvasteel Corporation, and SteelAsia. The SteelAsia plant is now the largest and most modern steel rolling mill production facility in the country, completed in December 2014 and was purposely built to increase the national steel production and to reduce the construction costs in Mindanao.
BDO Network Bank (formerly One Network Bank) is based in Davao City and is the largest rural bank in the Philippines in terms of assets. Most of its branches are located in Mindanao (including 17 locations where it is the only financial-services provider). Government social-insurance agencies such as the Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System also have locations in the city.
There are several commercial areas in the city: the city's downtown area, also known as the city centre, Davao Chinatown (Uyanguren), Bajada, Lanang, Matina, Ecoland, Agdao, Buhangin, Tibungco, Toril, Mintal and Calinan, the latter three located at the southwestern part of the city.
There are many shopping centers that dot the city. Notable ones include: Gaisano Mall of Davao, which opened in April 1997, is the largest Gaisano Mall in the Philippines, Abreeza, which opened on May 12, 2011, is the first and largest Ayala Mall in Mindanao, and SM Lanang Premier which is the first SM Premier Mall in Mindanao. Other major malls in the city include NCCC Mall of Davao, and SM City Ecoland, which is the first SM Mall in Mindanao among many others. NCCC Mall VP (formerly Victoria Plaza Mall), located on J.P. Laurel Ave., is the oldest shopping mall in the city, established in 1992. Felcris Centrale is a mixed use Retail Mall, supermarket, and IT office complex located along Quimpo Boulevard. Gaisano Mall of Toril, which is the second Gaisano Mall under the DSG Sons Group in the city, is a large shopping mall located in Toril District at the southern part of the city. Some minor malls/community malls include Gaisano Grand Tibungco, NCCC Panacan, NCCC Main Uyanguren, Gaisano Grand Calinan, Gaisano Grand Ilustre, and Gaisano Grand Toril. Construction of new shopping malls in the city are currently underway. Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall, which is the fifth Gaisano Mall in the city under the Gaisano Grand Group, is a large shopping mall being constructed in Buhangin District just a few kilometers north of the downtown area. NCCC Mall Buhangin, is the second NCCC Mall in the city which is also located in Buhangin District just beside Gaisano Grand Mall Buhangin. There are also proposed malls which include CityMall Northtown Davao, which will be the first CityMall in the city that will rise in a 1.5 hectare lot within the vicinity of Northtown, a 116-hectare residential estate by the Alsons Dev. in Barangay Cabantian, Davao City, and the Vista Mall Davao, which will rise in Tugbok District.
Culture and heritage
As with most cities in the Philippines, Christianity is widespread as a result of Spanish colonialism. Christian churches and chapels dot the city's landscape. A small number of temples, mosques and other religions' places of worship may also be found around the city.
A notable tradition brought by the Spanish still celebrated today in Davao City is the celebration of the feast day of each of the barrios (villages) patron saints with a festival (fiesta). These are celebrated through song and dance.
The biggest celebration native to the city is the Kadayawan Festival in early to mid August which, in pre-colonial times was a celebration of the harvest. Today, it serves to commemorate the cultures of the indigenous tribes that inhabit the area surrounding Davao City. Many tribes people visit the city during this time. Festivities include native Mindanaoan street dances, motorcades featuring various clubs and social awareness groups based in the city and art exhibits in various locations featuring local artists and artisans.
The Davao Chinatown is the primary residence of the Chinese community in the city. It has its own seaport, the Santa Ana Wharf, which is also a part of Davao International Port.
Japanese cultural influence, like that of the Chinese, was also prominent in the city. The Japanese Community was concentrated in Mintal in the 3rd District of Toril, Davao City. In fact, a Japanese cemetery and Japanese Shrine is located there in Bago Oshiro in Mintal. Evidence of Japanese influence is still visible in Bago Oshiro where there are Japanese villages and schools. There are various Japanese-owned businesses in the city as well. Davao City is also home to Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School, a Japanese-administered educational institution.
Several foreign communities reside in the city, including Indonesians, Malaysians, Koreans and Indians. There are ESL schools for foreigners, and export-oriented industrial parks to entice Japanese and (South) Korean firms to set up shop in the city. However, there has been some cultural conflict over the integration of Koreans in the city, with then-city mayor Rodrigo Duterte complaining about their habit of smoking in public places.
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).
The cuisine of Davao City features skewered and grilled meat dishes, but the most common dish served in the city is kinilaw, a relative of ceviche made from tuna, mackerel, or swordfish with cucumber (and sometimes radishes) and chili marinated in vinegar. Sinuglaw, a portmanteau of sinugba (grilled) and kinilaw in the Cebuano language, is also a term for a dish in which diced, grilled pork belly is mixed with kinilaw.
Fruit dishes, snacks, and desserts are also popular, most made from durian and bananas. Ginanggang is a banana dish that originated in this city and spread to other parts of the country; a banana is grilled, skewered, brushed with margarine and sprinkled with sugar. Durian also made appearance on Davao's culinary scene.
The Philippine eagle, the country's national bird and considered the largest eagle in the world, is endemic to Davao. The orchid waling-waling and fruits such as durians, marang, rambutans, pomeloes and mangosteens are popular and generally cheaper in the city. Tourist destinations in the city include the Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Center, Mount Apo, Gap Farming Resort, the Davao Crocodile Park, Malagos Garden Resort, Eden Nature Park, and People's Park in the city center which is popular for its sculptures of indigenous people and dancing fountain. Samal Island, a part of Metro Davao, is an island city situated immediately off the city's coast in the Davao Gulf, popularly known for its scenic beaches.
Two major annual festivals are held in the city: the Araw ng Dabaw (Day of Davao) on March 16 (The city's incorporation day) and the Kadayawan Festival in August. Also celebrated in the entire month of December, Pasko Fiesta sa Davao is an integration of festive and competitive Christmas activities showcasing colorful lightings and array of decorations in barangays, public parks, roads and buildings, and a series of competitive performances. Another annual festival, the Torotot Festival, is held annually every New Year's Eve. First organized in the last day of 2013 during the 2014 New Year's Eve, it was organized as a recompense for the city firecracker-pyrotechnics ban; it includes a number of people simultaneously blowing party horns, locally known as torotots. It recorded a number of 7,568 people participating in the first event, aiming to break the world record set by Japan for the most people simultaneously blowing party horns.