It was a case of try and try until you succeed. The first time I attempted to visit Davao was in 2016. I had bought the flight tickets, but I suddenly got hired by a company where I applied. Although new hires are automatically eligible for annual leaves in said company, I decided that it was best to just cancel the trip. In 2020 I tried again; booked the flight, talked to a friend who agreed to host me, and planned a side-trip to Bukidnon (even paid for accommodation there), but then the pandemic happened. I was beginning to think that the universe didn’t want me to visit Davao.
Then last March, our company announced that our work-from-home arrangement was coming to an end following PEZA’s return-to-office directive. I was pretty unhappy about the news because I preferred working remotely and hate the hassle of the daily commute. So I was sitting at home stewing on this fact when an idea came to mind; why not travel one last time before starting working in the office again. I thought about going to my favorite vacation destination, Boracay but dismissed it as it would be expensive. That’s when I remembered Davao; maybe this time it would work out.
I messaged Glen, the same friend who agreed to host me before, to know if he was still willing to do it; he said yes. Glen is also a blogger and owns a blog called, Escapemanila. He was born and raised in Davao. We met during a familiarization trip in Baguio in 2019.
I booked a return flight via AirAsia for ₱3,033.36. The original departure time was 3:30 p.m., but they changed it to 6:40 p.m. I was not fond of that at all as it made my trip shorter than it already was.
Getting to Davao
I went to the airport four hours early so I won’t be stuck in the traffic. The plane departed from NAIA Terminal 4. Because I hadn’t flown through Terminal 4 for a while, I had forgotten about the pre-departure area. It was only when they made the boarding announcement for my flight that I realized my mistake. Well, it wasn’t much of a mistake but still, who in their right mind would waste so many hours waiting at the check-in area?
When I got on the plane, I saw another guy sitting in my seat. I’m not fussy about passengers changing places on a plane, but you should do it when nobody was boarding anymore so you won’t accidentally steal somebody else’s seat. However, I paid for this seat, it’d be a waste of money if I just let them take it.
I was about to inform them about it when a woman said that I could take the window seat in the adjacent row. At first, I was hesitant as I didn’t want to steal another person’s airline seat, but the woman told me that it was, in fact, her original seat. It turns out that they are all related and wanted to sit next to each other, thus moving without permission.
I was still annoyed but I let it go because at least I was still going to sit by the window and I’d still be on the same row, just on the opposite side. Technically, I didn’t waste the money that I paid for this.
I struggled to lift and put my luggage in the cabin compartment, but I successfully did it after several attempts. A fellow passenger seemed to have taken note of that because she volunteered to get my luggage when we were about to deplane in Davao. I was grateful, that was sweet of her.
The flight was further delayed, hence I didn’t reach Davao City until around 9:00 in the evening. Glen told me to take a cab outside the airport to get to his place. At first, I was reluctant to take a cab misassociating it with the airport taxis in Manila which are notorious for being too damn expensive. Then I remembered that I was in Davao; the taxi drivers there are known to be honest and wouldn’t scam you into paying more than what’s on the meter. So I got in one of those cabs and phoned Glen who asked me to put him on the loudspeaker so he could give directions to the driver. Glen’s place is about 25-30 minutes away from the airport.
The driver opened a conversation en route by asking if it was my first time in Davao. I said yes, to which he replied, “People here are nice.”
This reminded me of the woman who helped me with my luggage on the plane. The driver is right, Davaoeños are nice.
He shared that he had lived in Manila for a few years, and that’s where he met his wife. But he found that life in Manila was more complex and everything was expensive, so he decided to move his family back to Davao.
Finally, I reached my friend’s place. I saw Glen waiting for me on the side of the road. He lives on the third floor of a low-rise apartment. Glen cooked some food for me to eat; I usually skip dinner because of intermittent fasting, but all the traveling made me famished, so I appreciated the nourishment.
I slept on the floor in his bedroom, which I specifically requested as I didn’t want to disturb his sleep from all the tossing and turning that I usually do. In point of fact, it took me a while to find rest that night.
As I drifted off to sleep, I thanked the Lord for the safe flight. I remembered those two failed attempts to visit Davao; glad that the trip pushed through this time. As they say, the third time’s a charm.
P.S. I will write more about this trip in the coming days.