Thursday, June 15, 2006


Every chance I got, I traveled to Davao City. Every excuse I could find, I was on my way to Davao City.

The road being constructed began in the province of South Cotabato and ended in the province of Davao. Where the road construction ended, Davao City was a scant half an hour away.

Compared to Cotabato City, Davao City was paradise in so many ways. First of all, Davao City was much bigger and more cosmopolitan than Cotabato City. In fact, Davao City has the distinction of being the largest city in the Philippines as well as the world in land area, covering almost 603,000 acres.

In addition, Davao City was a minor tourist destination in the South. It had white, sandy beaches, five star hotels and restaurants, exciting night life and entertainment and many ethnic festivals. The province of Davao is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines and the monkey-eating Philippine eagle.

But those were not the reasons why I took refuge in Davao City as often as I did. True, to a large extent it took my mind away from work and the daily construction grind. The biggest factor was, Davao City was as peaceful as a major city could get. The province and the city was predominantly Christian, and peace and order was not a problem in Davao City. I could leave two things behind in Cotabato every time I traveled to Davao City—my guns and my bodyguard.

When business reasons warranted a trip, I took the company vehicle, the biggest Ford pick-up truck then with reinforced shocks, and the company driver named Bong, who normally would be assigned to the construction site. I would reassign my personal vehicle, regular driver and bodyguard to help out in the camp.

The company had business associates in Davao City, and we would spend the evenings hitting the night spots. I remember going to several nice restaurants, a nightclub called the Marrakesh, and several massage parlors.

The massage parlors were not as plush and the masseuses not as comely as the ones in Manila, but they pretty much provided the same, er, basic services. After a nice invigorating massage, the massage included, for a small gratuity, a handjob called “sensation” in those days.

When it was strictly a personal trip, I usually flew to Davao.
For most of these trips, it was a junket with my girl friend Emma. We would stay either at the Insular Hotel, at that time the city’s premier hotel, or the Apo View Hotel, and spend a long weekend playing tourist.

We would go shopping, hit the beaches, dine at the restaurants and dance at the clubs just like any romantic couple. I enjoyed Emma’s company. She was very pretty, slender, educated, outgoing, articulate, even-tempered, passionate and fun to be with. I will always remember our good times, and I will always be grateful for her love and sweetness during those times. Those trips with Emma made Davao City even more memorable.

One time we took a regular bus on one of these trips. I found the trip uncomfortable, in fact downright miserable. There was construction in parts of the highway, we bounced all over the bus because of the rough road, and half the trip was in the dust. That was the first and last time we took the bus.

I guess it was different when I was working, and I could put up with it, but not when I was on vacation. Just like most people in the area, I found myself looking forward to the day when that road was finally complete and fully cemented from Cotabato City to Davao City.


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