I haven’t explored much of Mindanao, but I will posit that it is one of the more culturally concentrated regions of the Philippines. The indigenous people have managed to be adamant about cultural preservation, throughout all these years. When the Spaniards took over the Philippines, they really only took over Luzon and Visayas, while Mindanao remained untouched. It’s that strong Moro will, I believe. Which, I appreciate, because at the very least, they have principles that they stand by. And the ground they stand on may be shaken, but they will not.
Davao was such a colorful experience. I went in August, five years ago, at the onset of their preparations for the annual Kadayawan Festival. The air was abuzz with excitement! You could see it in their little, nuanced movements, that a quiet electricity ran through their collective veins, their bodies barely containing the energy. The festival hadn’t even begun, but the city was busy with preemptive celebrations and exhibitions.
A Davao visit requires going to Samal Island. I envy the Davaoeños for having a beach in such close proximity! One short boat ride is all it takes to get to the beach from the city.
For shopping, take a trip to Aldevinco, a shopping center where you can buy locally made souvenirs, such as batik bags, and sarongs, among many other things. Although, I wouldn’t recommend using a credit card, and using cash instead; my grandmother’s card was copied, and was made a counterfeit of. They then used it to successfully purchase about P50,000.00 worth of sporting goods. But incidents like this aren’t endemic to Davao; it could happen anywhere. Other than that, Davao is, in fact, a notoriously safe place.