Mindanao claim to fame was when the current (and 16th) President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, was the Mayor of Davao, the largest city in the island. Underneath the violent regime was one of the most beautiful province of Philippines.
When Duterte was Mayor of Davao, he banned smoking in all public places, including on the street. That was what impressed during this visit to Davao for work, we were stopped by hotel staff from stepping outside the aircon environment of the hotel to smoke. The staff explained in length that we should not try-try in Davao, as the police will throw us into custody.
We were there to visit our customer, Sibulan Hydroelectric Power, and they were located mid-way to towards the ascent of Mount Apo. It was hard to imagine that we were driving along the coastal highway, where we enjoyed the really lovely views of blue sky and a pristine clean coastline. Then a sudden turn, and we drove through plantations and then virgin rainforests. Along the way, we say cobras in the middle of the road and really bad roads along the cliffs of the mountain that would just lead us right into the ravines. And this was were they harnessed the power of nature to produce electricity.
With an elevation of 2,954 meters above sea level, Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippine Archipelago and is located between Davao City and Davao del Sur province. It is an active volcano, and its thermal energy is harvested to product geothermal electricity, the only ones in ASEAN.
Dining by the sea
We were brought to this local dining place just next to the beach. That’s after driving 1 hours from the mid-point of the mountain all the way to the seaside.
Unperturbed by the lack of hygiene, the host decided to order a tuna ceviche. He went on to proudly announce that the tuna was line caught in the sea behind us most likely the night before. Of course, we were used to modern day spot freeze technology that would kill all the parasites in tuna, but I don’t think this was practiced here.
In turned out, the white tuna ceviche was really nice. A good amount of sourness from fresh lime and saltiness from soy sauce, this was mixed with a generous amount of local cucumber and onions. Really scary to think about it as I wrote this post, cucumber has been a major source of salmonella poisoning in recent years.
The rest of the meal were nice, rustic creations like squid adobo and deep fried battered shrimps. I guessed this was already the best dining place this place can offer, but we were not disappointed. We wolfed everything down with the Assam-like seafood soup with lots of steamed rice. We were really hungry from a whole morning of riding in the car and a whole afternoon of meetings ahead of us. Up in the mountains, one cannot expect a canteen or cafeteria that would provide tea breaks.
As we drove back to Davao City in the evening with Mount Apo in the rear mirror, the afternoon meal came back to me. I started to miss this kind of food – homecooked, unpretentious, ingredients obtained locally. Because of work, I have been exposed to some of the finest restaurants and cuisine. Nothing beats a simple meal like this that hit the spot when we needed it.