7 Reasons To Hate (or Love) Davao City

For a Dabawenyo who has been living in Davao City since childhood, I have witnessed several developments in my hometown. Back in the day, there were fewer city regulations and not much violence in the country.


Fast forward to today, city residents and visitors have experienced various changes that have molded Davao City into the place that it has become. A lot of characteristics about the city — ordinances, local governance, tourism — have generated differing opinions. Some like the changes, some hate the way Davao is shaping up to be, while others are just going with the flow.

Here are seven features of Davao City that have created either cheers of delight or screams of disgust from Dabawenyos and tourists. I urge you to do a self-check on each of these city features: Hate them or love them?

1. No Smoking Ordinance

smoking ordinance

Smoking in populated areas is restricted in many cities in the Philippines, but Davao City was one of the first localities to strictly implement a citywide smoking ban on public places, complete with skyrocketing fines.

The Good: Non-smokers, rejoice! You don’t have to cover your noses in jeeps and restaurants just because someone is smoking nearby. Plus, it’s a good opportunity for smokers to kick the habit and have healthier lungs.

The Bad: People who are visiting Davao City for the first time might not be familiar with the ordinance, and may find themselves being slapped with a hefty fine once they light their first cigarette. This might put off some tourists who cannot survive without smoking.

The Middle Ground: If you really need to smoke, you will have to do it in your place of residence or a designated smoking area (which, unfortunately, is difficult to find in some areas of the city).

2. Firecracker Ban

davao firecracker ban

Many skeptics thought that the city ordinance on firecrackers and pyrotechnics would just go up in smoke after its first implementation in 2001. But several New Years after, the ban is still in full effect, thanks to the effective local governance and the unwavering discipline of Dabawenyos.

The Good: Minimal to zero injuries due to firecrackers! Your fingers are probably going to love you more, when you’re living in Davao City.

The Bad: It’s awfully quiet and dark in many areas of the city during the New Year’s Countdown.

The Middle Ground: You can always go for alternative ways to celebrate the New Year. You can join the annual Davao Torotot Festival, with the sound of hundreds of blazing trumpets being a worthy successor of firecrackers. Personally, I’m still hoping that Davao City can witness a fireworks display for the New Year (to be done by the city government alone), probably in Magsaysay Park or overlooking Samal Island.

3. Speed Limit

speed limit

Driving around the city has become a lot slower because of the speed limit ordinance. You can only go as fast as 30 kph downtown, and a maximum of 60 kph in the city borders.

The Good: The notoriety of uso-uso jeepneys and abusive vehicle owners has screeched to a halt because of the ordinance. Compared to past years, vehicular accidents due to overspeeding have become rare as of late.

The Bad: Very… slow.. movement… of… vehicles. That’s bad news for people catching commute and hoping not to be late for work or school. Car owners will probably get frustrated driving on a Sunday afternoon in Lanang or Cabaguio because they cannot speed up even though the street is wide open. Plus, you cannot flaunt the power of your Porsche or Maserati if you’re forced to run in the same speed as a tricycle!

The Middle Ground: There’s really no compromise for drivers; you have no choice but to stick to the speed limit. For commuters, it’s best to start your day early so that you’ll have enough leeway and arrive at your destination in time.

4. Liquor Restriction

davao liquor ban

The curfew in selling and serving alcoholic beverages (from 1:00-8:00 AM) took effect in 2013 after amending the original 1994 liquor ban. The liquor ban has definitely changed the way Dabawenyos party in the wee hours.

The Good: The ordinance was designed to reduce accidents and crimes caused by alcohol intoxication, and it seems to be working. Walking in Davao City streets has become significantly safer with less drunkards roaming the city.

The Bad: Davao partyphiles and alcohol lovers find themselves restricted to enjoy the nightlife. It has also caused several establishments to close shop for violating the ordinance, leaving fewer destinations for tourists to visit at late night.

The Middle Ground: There are a lot of other reasons to stay up late in Davao without liquor. You can drink several rounds of caffeine in various coffee shops around Davao, dine in 24-hour fastfood restaurants, or enjoy alcohol-free videoke.

5. No Videoke In Public?

Pinoys love videoke! (photo by m.a.r.c. via Flickr)
Pinoys love videoke! (photo by m.a.r.c. via Flickr)

An ordinance signed in 2006 restricted videoke usage in public establishments until 10:00 PM only, unless they can muffle the sound so that it won’t escape the confines of the building. Meanwhile, the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance extends the coverage of the loud noise prohibition to any place within the city, apparently including residential areas.

The Good: Thank this ordinance for quieter neighborhoods! It’s nice to enjoy your living spaces without the blaring noise of your neighbor’s videoke machine.

The Bad: Some argue that restricting a person’s intention to sing “No Arms Can Ever Hold You” on videoke goes against the right to free expression. If you’re heartbroken or lonely at home, you will have to let go of videoke as your go-to therapeutic release.

The Middle Ground: If you really want to belt out your favorite tunes, you can head to a wide array of videoke bars authorized by the city government to operate. Or, you can find another way to vent out your emotions aside from singing.

6. Expansive Land Area

Davao City, the Land of Promise (photo by Jenine Silos)
Davao City, the Land of Promise (photo by Jenine Silos)

Identified as the largest Philippine city in terms of land area, Davao City is home to a wide array of destinations reachable by land. There’s a big chance that you will find your favorite hobby, passion or sport in Davao.

The Good: You can enjoy the beach at sunrise, have lunch on a mountaintop overlooking the city, visit nature and wildlife parks in the afternoon, and drop by downtown for urban nightlife. All in a day!

The Bad: You might not be able to visit every landmark Davao destination in a single day because of the lengthy travel that you have to endure. For instance, you will have to travel roughly 40 km from Eden Nature Park to Sasa Wharf if you’re planning to visit Island Garden City of Samal.

The Middle Ground: If you’re planning a vacation in Davao, stay at least three days so that you can cover most of the worthwhile tourist attractions. It might be best to travel around the city using a private vehicle, but you can always be adventurous and ride public transportation.

7. The Duterte Factor

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (photo from Davao CIO)
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (photo from Davao CIO)

Davao City has become known as the turf of the Duterte family, most notably longtime city mayor Rodrigo Duterte. His children — former mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and current vice mayor Paolo Duterte — have also served the local government. The Duterte brand of governance has divided not only the city but also the nation, with some people opposing the iron-clad city management and others praising it.

The Good: As a result of the rock-solid political will of Mayor Duterte and the general public’s acceptance of his style of leadership, Davao City has evolved into the safest city in the Philippines with the lowest crime rate and the highest security index (based on 2015 worldwide figures by Numbeo). Where else in the country can you roam around the streets at night with confidence that you’re going to be safe? Only in Davao!

The Bad: For starters, if you’re planning to do something unlawful or illegal in Davao City, then be sure that you’re ready to face the wrath of Digong! Duterte is very keen when it comes to implementing city regulations, and there are times when violators had to deal with him personally. His public comments about killing criminals have been criticized by human rights activists and even the Office of the President, and have somehow painted Davao as an ultra-restricted city.

The Middle Ground: The public perception on Mayor Rody Duterte is still very much open to debates, especially now that his name is rising as one of the top presidential candidates in the 2016 National Elections. Love him or hate him, Mayor Duterte probably won’t care, as long as Davao City remains to be a safe place to live in.


Which ones do you love and which ones do you hate? However you feel about these things, I still hope that you will find Davao City to be a worthwhile place to visit or live in.

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  1. erick d. ordeniza

    Love it! i was raised in davao and i witnessed how the city changes through good public service of digong.

  2. Wilfredo P Laurel

    All good. There should be enough space for each item to refute what were considered bad. For example, the fireworks ban, the speed limit, the liquor ban, etc, , All arguments against them are shallow. The benefits show it is for the common good of the great majority. Another example: Will a tourist not be fined because he does not know about anti-literring ban?

    • Chito | DavaoBase.com

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really intended to make the arguments short so that people who read this can assess (and share) their own opinions on the matter and not get influenced by mine. 🙂

  3. fanatics are hurting davao right now, if you criticize anything Duterte does everyone will jump over you… so most people just remain silence. There are good and bad things about the regulations and about davao, but everyone is too busy worshipping Duterte instead of giving him good advices on the things that need to be done. Its a shame, because he is the kind of guy that could do so much… tsk…

    • criticizing, you mean? just like what you are doing now.

    • I was born in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City. Raised in slums near Floodway in Pasig and studied in Sampaloc for 4 years…not sure if you have witnessed violence just few feet from you ..in Davao you won’t see that. Or people doing drugs in midday (at wag kang magkamaling titigan ang mga adik, patay kang bata ka. =))) well, guess what, you won’t see that in Davao. Been to Davao twice and still going back and perhaps live there. The city may not be a party place for nocturnal people like me or anyone who grew up in Manila but what the heck it is safe. with a mayor who do not need to kiss some ass just to kiss ass t get to his position.
      I’m just tired of politicians here puro bulsa at ego nila inaatupag.

  4. I consider the 30KPH speed limit is just to slow almost I cannot even shift to 2nd gear, I always feel pain on my legs while driving at davao city cause I have to use brake many times than on accelarator. Maybe 40kph or 50kph would be fine in my oppinion.

  5. MrNobody, you are not from Davao, are you? That must be the reason why you do not appreciate Mr Mayor as we Davaoenos do. The term “worshipping” might sound too much for an outsider like you. Try living in our city so that you could tell the difference. Don’t get us wrong, people stay silent NOT because we are afraid, but rather we are satisfied with his service. Why should we complain when all he does is make our city peaceful?

    • Hi Eding.
      Let’s just respect Ms Nobody’s view; that’s why the title ‘Hate of Love’.
      Here in Davao, we live peacefully because we respect each other, regardless of each other’s opinion or view.
      We will welcome everyone in the city, as long as you follow our laws..

  6. Where to buy Becks Beer in Davao City?

  7. Never been in davao but i would love to see safe place day and nights in Philippines . I am sure that majority is satified with his efforts to keep cith free of hassle and any type of crime . Sounds amazing.
    But what is important is…. i wonder if the Mayor can establish some kind of base that Davao city will remain safest city in Phils even after his retirement … no one can say what will be after 10 20 years in fact if a generation maintain a good manner of life than will pass it throughly to their childs thus may be may be
    it will remain as a safest place in Phils. Very appreciating news and one day would like to visit there

  8. been there done that

    the most annoying thing about Davao is the noise pollution, people have dogs they are kept behind high walls they never get walked and all they do is bark all day. you cant walk along the road without a taxi or jeepney blowing their horns at you or pulling up in front of you as you try and cross the road, you talk about laws they want to try getting some to make the place quieter a taxi or jeepney is suppose to be a hail rid service in other countries doing this to a female would be soliciting, and safety wise i have never been in a where road safety is so bad jeepneys falling to bite botched up with fiberglass bondo sometimes no lights and they dont know what tread is on their tires, 38 ton trucks are the same some right through to the cordage under the rubber, you might have been born in Davao and love it here but it has to come into the 21 century some thing it has not done, Duterte has done nothing to get prices of food in the supermarkets down most of it is more expensive than the UK and USA why because he wont let foreign companies in to compete with the malls the filipino is getting ripped off good but they dont know any better, i come from the UK and have talked to Americans and Filipinos here who say the same even the ones in the UK say its cheaper food there and their wages are a lot better than here, i now stay here with my Filipino wife and feel sorry when i see kids and elderly begging for money just to eat, your president could help a lot of people if he would just get off his high horse and come to ground like he said he was and was brought up to solve a problem like drugs you have to give people cheaper things to survive making money to make ends meet selling drugs is an easy way, murder is not a dictator tells you what he is going to do a leader asks the people who voted him in what they want him to do, and he does not become a bed mate with a country that thinks it can take whats yours when it wants that can invade you if it wants because it controls what you fight with if china wanted to do this it only has to stop supplying you with the ammo for the guns he thinks he is getting cheap or for nothing, yes you are like the Americans in some ways never see the big picture only what you want to see, your country get flooded with plastic junk from China that ens up polluting your rivers things you should be producing yourselves and recycling

  9. very clever way of promoting davao city. i had fun reading this, truly Davao city is worthy of staying.

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