This sprawling city – the culinary, cultural, economic and commercial capital of the south and home town of the country's president – is, for better or worse, becoming more like Manila. More traffic, more malls, more multinationals, more subdivisions hidden behind security gates. However, Mt Apo looms majestically in the distance, symbolising the typical Davaoeño's dual citizenship as both an urbanite and someone deeply rooted to the land outside the city. Locals know that Davao (dah-bow, and sometimes spelt ‘Dabaw’) has more than enough action to keep them satisfied, and yet it’s only a short drive or boat ride from forested slopes and white-sand beaches.
A September 2016 bombing at the Roxas Ave night market in the centre of the city killed 15 and wounded dozens of others. Members of the Abu Sayyaf and ISIS–affiliated Maute group claimed responsibility. Prior to this, Davao had mostly avoided any major violent incidents in the past decade.