You know a city is soulful when its history and culture is preserved so well it entirely moves you. When we went to Davao City a few weeks ago, we were really clueless about which places to prioritize visiting given the number of places our friends recommended and the limited amount of time we had . We’ve heard it from our friends, and we’ve read it in most of the travel blogs in our research: Museo Dabawenyo is one for the books.
Locals say they also call it the “people’s museum” —
True to its dubbed nickname, the people around are so friendly. Look at Kuya waving by the entrance… 😀
Upon entry, a beautiful work of art in the staircase leading to the second floor of the museum welcomes everyone.
It is named Tri-people by Banjo Satorre, Jr., a mixed media art that represents the three people in Davao: the Islams (10% of the population), the Christians (85%), and the Lumads (5%). To date, it has become one of the icons of the museum. If you’re wondering how it became a mixed media art, let’s zoom in to the “jewels” on one of the sides of the canvas.
Photography is prohibited inside the museum. All I can share in this short entry is a quick rundown of the galleries inside. Some notable features include a peek into the life of the Lumads or the different tribal groups in Southern Philippines: photos of the appointed heads and their families, replicas of their houses, weapons, and a showcase of their official tribal costumes. (The beadwork, the patterns, and the method of making them were jawdropping! What kind of detail and how much effort was put into it?)
Other things in museum include Spanish, American, and Japanese war artifacts, a Japanese map of Davao prior to its conversion to a charter city prompted by the Philippine government, a history of undivided Davao, a memorabilia gallery for olden day clothes, currencies, and porcelains from old Davao, a gallery of paintings of city mayors with some photos recognizing the prestigious Datu Bago awardees, and some awards and recognitions that the city got for peace and good governance.
I fell in love too much with this particular gallery about the Lumads, the tribes in Southern Philippines, that I wanted to remember a piece of something about this museum trip. When I got the chance, I bought a piece of their traditional clothing, the malong, in the market. A malong is big piece of tubular cloth adorned with patterns that are innate to the tribe. Every tribe has a recognizable pattern, and I am toooooo amazed by the intricate details!
I’m really proud of how such art is tied with a very rich culture. Some malongs are made of silk while some are made using batik. The malong I got had gold threads woven with regular colors, majority of which is royal blue. I also learned that, aside from the patterns, the material and the method of making the malong itself is different for every tribe.
Soledad Roa Duterte, fondly called Nanay Soling, is the better half of the last undivided Davao Governor Vicente Duterte. She envisioned the whole idea of Museo Dabawenyo which first opened last March 14-16, 2008. It was, indeed, a very good idea as the museum has become a valuable gem to Davao. It shares an intangible treasure to everyone who visits it: knowledge — of how rich and beautiful the city is. I even learned (and relearned) some things I can’t imagine. I was too amazed by the preservation of their heritage especially when I learned from one of the guides that all (Southern Philippine) tribes are still being represented by a “mayor” and helping the incumbent mayor of the city. I also learned that the current president of the Philippines native to the city of Davao, President Duterte, is part Tausug, a tribe of the South.
It would take me a while to list down all the things I learned and realized from this visit but the best recommendation is an actual visit to the place. If you find yourself in Davao, don’t forget to visit this place! It only takes less than an hour to walk around the area (and sometimes a few more for digesting the facts). The entrance fee is free of charge and there is always a friendly museum staff to guide you through all the galleries. Believe me, it will make you appreciate this lovely city and their living culture and tradition even more. 😉
Museo Dabawenyo, translated as Davao Museum, is one of the two known museums in the city of Davao. The building, formerly the Court of First Instance, was restored and rehabilitated to house and showcase the rich history and diverse cultural heritage of the people of Davao. First opened into public during the 71st Araw ng Dabaw grand opening celebration on March 2008, it was established by the City Government of Davao under the City Ordinance No. 0266-2006 and was signed into law last November 2006 by Mayor (now President of the Philippines) Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays at 9:00AM-12:00PM and 1:00PM-6:00PM. It is located near the Andres Bonifacio Rotunda at Pichon corner CM Recto Street, Poblacion District, Davao City, Davao del Sur.