Kano is a Filipino slang for Americans, to be exact, and Caucasians in general. I asked G to write something about Davao City so you would know how my hometown left an impression to a foreigner and a first-timer in Davao City and the Philippines. And, oh, G isn’t a ‘Kano, he’s Briton. 🙂
Kini Rogers: Search for the Double Down by G
As you can tell by our ever-increasing bellies, J and I are both big fast food fans. We both share a love for the McDonald’s McSpicy and both have a weakness for fried chicken. When I discovered that KFC in the Philippines had the legendary Double Down on their menu, we both knew we had to go. Oh, and maybe see a bit of the Philippines too.
For those who don’t know, the Double Down looks like a sex in the mouth. The colonel has cunningly replaced the unwanted bread buns with the genius concept of two extra pieces of chicken, and glued it all together with a bacon filling. It’s the kind of food item that men go to war for, and I was as excitied as a Filipino in a jam factory to finally try one.
Kini Rogers, a Lechon Manok (Roast Chicken) Chain in the Visayas and Mindanao Region. Photo taken from affordablecebu.com
J and I flew Tiger Air direct to Davao: the main city of the southern island of Mindanao and home of the Pogoy clan. It was not quite what I expected. Davao was less urban and had more of a village feel then what I was predicting. To me, it felt less of a city because there are many quiet roads and buildings are interspersed often with patches of jungle. There are very few big buildings – most are the small ramshackle buildings with open shop fronts and corrugated iron rooftops – and at first I was continuously thinking that we must be in a suburb of Davao rather than the centre. If you have ever been to Chiang Mai in Thailand then Davao has a similar feel, although I would say that Chiang Mai is a lot busier and more built up.
Straight away we experienced disappointment. J had prepared a tour of Davao’s shopping malls upon our arrival, so straight away we were able to seek out the Double Down. We entered the mall, passed the security guards with guns and the bag checks, and looked for fast food. We had a quick look at McDonalds but the Filipino McMenu is really not very special (apart from a nasty looking McDo burger which just looks cheap) so we made for the KFC. Sadly, our dreams were to be crushed. The Double Down had been discontinued nationwide just days before. A nation weeps.
It was a surprise that Jollibee didn’t open their store in Abreeza Mall when it first opened. Tsk. Sayang. It made one Kano go mad. One huge phail in the itinerary.
The Philippines does have an indigenous junk food place though: the famous Jollibee. Actually, Mindanao also has a takeaway chicken place too with the amusing title of Kini Rogers, but we didn’t eat there. I had been warned about Jollibee by several people and warned not to expect much from their food. Their two famous dishes are Jollibee Spaghetti and the Chicken Joy. Chicken Joy is just an average piece of chicken given a sparkly name and really not worthy of any lengthy discussion, but the spaghetti is a bit more interesting. Anyone expecting high class Italian pasta will be very disappointed, and J had already voiced her dislike of this sweet spaghetti. I tried a portion, and while it wasn’t as bad or as sweet as everybody says, it’s certainly not something I would develop a craving for. A nice surprise was the hash brown burger, which actually earned a thumbs up and even won a bite from J’s shy cousin Baby D.
- The sweet style pinoy spaghetti in the form of Jolly Spaghetti and the (in)famous Chicken Joy of Jollibee
With fast food done, we could focus on the rest of our holiday. We paid a quick visit to People’s Park which has some quirky statues of tribal people and animals, and lots of couples smooching in dark corners. According to my guide, People’s Park was better in the past and even boasted a waterfall, but money has mysteriously disappeared into other areas and the quality has suffered. It probably went towards motorbikes for Mayor Duterte’s vigilante squads…
The Monkey-Eating Eagle is on the loose at the People's Park and started attacking G!
That evening was the main part of the holiday and my chance to experience Pinoy hospitality: J’s birthday meal. Despite what she thinks, the real celebration was for everyone to have a chance to meet me, and it was just a happy coincidence that it was also her birthday, however I graciously allowed her to believe that the evening was her “birthday party”. I got to try many goodies, but the best was undoubtedly the lechon: a juicy suckling pig all covered in fat and skin and waiting to be devoured by Davaons (is that the right term?). I also learnt that a small glass coca cola bottle is called a coca cola sota (Blog Owner’s Note: Should be Coca Cola Sakto) which means something like thirst quencher. J’s sister is quite greedy and needed several of these sotas (Sakto), so I made the joke that hers should be called a coca cola kulong (Kulang = Not Enough). That’s a Tagalog joke for those in the know…
This is the traditional Filipino fare during a salo-salo (gathering). The Lechon (Suckling Pig) usually is the highlight of the dinner. More than the celebrant or occasion.
I got to see more of Davao on day 2 after a sleep and a session on the tabo. Most of Davao’s beaches are on Samal Island and beach bums can catch a ferry to one of the many resorts along the coast. Samal Island’s beaches are pleasant, but I was sad to see that the entire beach has been segregated into many small resorts which charge to come and use the beach. This means no long leisurely walks along the sea, and all the jetties splitting up the beach results in a large accumulation of sea weed and debris. If I was Mayor Duterte, I would stop punching sheriffs and free up some of the Samal beach from development. On this day we also experienced a Zip Line adventure which is good fun and has thankfully not had any fatalities. Yet.
In the evening we finished the day by visiting a British pub in Davao called Pirates Pub. This was a huge surprise and one that the Pogoys were unaware of until the Tiger Air magazine informed us. It’s quite authentic, is dirt cheap compared to Singapore, and has surprises like faggots and Sunday Roast on the menu. The big difference between Pirates and a real British pub (apart from the bright colour scheme in the décor) is that there is a guy with a shotgun at the door. We finished the evening with the second best Filipino food I ate: Sisig – the yummy cheeks of a little piggy.
Pirates Pub - An English Bar in Nove Tierra, Lanang Davao City. They serve CIDER!
My final day was just spent with my Davao family, and I would not have wished for anything else. They made me feel so welcome, and it warmed my heart to see J surrounded by people who love her. That was the best part: seeing J happy and loved, and I can leave her there for a time with an easy heart. Unfortunately, since it was the place where I had to leave her, I can never say that I enjoyed Davao Airport and was thoroughly miserable during my one hour in there. I hope next time I visit Davao (and I will), we will be leaving together, hand in hand.