Jan 12-13, 2017
Defaulting to Danao
GPS waypoint: 10°31'14.8"N 124°01'41.4"E
Location: Danao (city), Cebu (province), Philippines
Still finding no lodging in Carmen, I defaulted to Danao in search of a place I could stay for the night. There is one at P500/night - Benedict's Hometel. Still out of my budget, I asked a trisicad driver to take me to cheaper places. He took me far to 2 beach resorts which charged considerably more. Even if they were affordable, they were so isolated from the cultural mix of the town that I would have waived it. At the end of all the exhausting search, I relented and checked-in at Benedict's Hometel. Still, I was glad there was lodging I could get at in Danao. I was running out of daylight and already too tired to go to the next city.
Just for comparison, P500 (US$10) is what I pay in Singapore for the cheapest airconditioned bunk bed - and this is the most expensive city in Asia. No wonder most travellers I encounter on the backpackers route in Southeast Asia complain that lodging in the Philippines is expensive. I have to agree since I could get a P150 bunk bed in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Pai (Thailand).
Being in Danao was also an opportune chance to discover this place that has become synonymous to Durano and paltik. I haven't been to Danao despite repeated visits to Cebu. As a kid growing up in Manila, I hear the word Danao mentioned by grown-ups in conversation over a few drinks. The word is always mentioned with 2 other words - Durano and paltik. Those three words were somehow bundled together in conversation. Durano was the political overlord of Danao. His word was law and Danao was his fiefdom. Essentially, he played God. Paltik is the cottage industry spawned in Danao for the fabrication of illegal/unregistered guns. This was the hovering impression I've always had about Danao. Now, I'm in Danao.
I enjoy walking about in a new town
Walking around town the following day, I noticed something interesting about the place. Danao is clean - you don't see garbage on the streets. I don't know if people are just disciplined or there are just many street cleaners. But in the Philippines, it's odd to see a clean city. Also, Danao looks manicured. The parks are well-groomed. Things seemed to be in order. A conversation with a trisicad driver revealed that Danao is peaceful with the Duterte administration - crime and fraternity violence are now a thing of the past. Illegal drugs have been drastically reduced, but still around. Certainly, this is not what I expected from all the mafia-related stories I'd been hearing about Danao in my growing years. Of course, I realize I'm only skimming the top from a passing tourist's perspective. But my brief experience with Danao has been positive.
My wish list? I hope Danao would have a movie house. I had been searching for a small city with a cheap movie house. When I was a kid, all the little towns had their movie houses. As a high schooler, movies were cheap. I could watch a first-run movie everyday if I wanted to. Now, movies have become too prohibitive - P200 for admission? For a country whose population is immersed in poverty, that represents a day's wage - simply out of reach for the marginal income earners. This paved the way for cheap pirated DVDs. The movie industry failed to make their business viable to a broad segment of society. Now, only big cities like Cebu City and Davao City have movie houses where rich people can afford to pluck P200/pop. I hope an enterprising visionary would emerge who would provide an innovative approach to movies to make them affordable again. There is simply no substitute to being in a comfortable seat watching a movie in full Sensurround on the big screen.
I could have stayed longer in Danao and immerse myself in its day-to-day pace but the lack of affordable lodging constrained me to leave and try another destination across the water - Camotes Island.
Danao City, Cebu, Philippines
- Danao's port has ferries going to Camotes Island
(US$1 = Php 49.82 as of Jan 15, 2017)
- the highway running through the North-South of Cebu cuts through Danao, so any bus from Cebu City going north and any bus from the north going to Cebu Cebu City will pass through it
- one night at Benedict's Hometel
- min tricycle fare within town
- Camotes Islands - caves, beaches
- Cebu City - rich in culture and history, 2nd largest city in the Philippines
- Moalboal - amazing coral reef system, sardine bowl, deep drop-off for freediving
- Oslob - Butanding (whale shark) watching
- Bantayan Island - long stretch of fine white sand beach, Virgin Island for snorkeling
- Malapascua Island - divers' paradise for seeing the rare Thresher Shark
- Cantabaco Cave - Toledo
- Barile Waterfalls - Barile
- Whale Shark Tour - Oslob
- Carcar - chicharon and lechon in public market
Jan 12-13, 2017
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