The other side of Davao

- Ayo Gunting -
Davao City is not a place to shy away from, in spite of the misimpressions about the peace and order situation and the Abu Sayyaf (and now the Moro National Liberation Front) activities in Mindanao. On the contrary, life in this premier tourist destination goes on. This we found out with our very own eyes.

While travel advisories from different embassies were being released left and right about the dangers of coming to Mindanao, the Davaoeños and local tourists coming from as far as Metro Manila continued trooping to this southern city with a vengeance. Apart from its beautiful resorts, there is one other reason why people are trooping to Davao City. This is to take part in its ultimate party experience with one of the biggest and hottest entertainment hubs, The Venue, taking the lead.

The 1,200 sq.m. property, located at the heart of Davao City’s entertainment center, recently celebrated its first anniversary and played host to some of the country’s hottest performers today including Silk, the comedic tandem Allan K and Leonard Obal, South Border and Side A.

"November, our anniversary month, was fully-packed as people danced and partied on to the music of South Border and Side A," says The Venue co-owner Gene Bangayan (with husband Ronald). They also own several businesses, including Linmarr Suites and Apartelle in Davao. This, adds Gene, proves that everything’s all right in this southern city amidst the negative image it has in other parts of the country and in the world.

The rest of the world missed out on all the fun Davao City has to offer. During The Venue’s SRO performances, people swooned and sang along to the music of South Border who sang their hit songs such as Kahit Kailan, Love of My Life, Losing My Mind, as well as the chart toppers from hip foreign bands. Prominent Davao personalities came in full force at the South Border gig including Maritoni Alvarez, Bobby Ang, Cathy Bangayen, Celi Diaz, Josie Ang, and even General Santos City Mayor Jun Acharon and family.

It was an equally glittery SRO night during Side A’s turn onstage. As expected, this timeless band belted out its signature hit songs – Foolish Heart, Tell Me, Forever More, Set You Free, Will I Ever – to the utter delight of the mixed crowd of yuppies and teeners. It was a night of sing-alongs and dancing as famous celebrities from Davao and Manila including former actress and Pops Fernandez’s mom, Dulce Lukban came to party.

Everyone in the cavernous second level of The Venue had their share of fun, too. People playing in the 16 billiards table and those having cupfuls of the famed Durian Coffee either jiggled along or sat back and listened to what’s happening onstage below. One thing’s for sure, though. Everyone had their fill of honest-to-goodness entertainment and their share of life’s simplest of (musical) pleasures.

The Venue, a one-stop place for music buffs, sports fans, and food trippers, sits smack in an area that somehow never sleeps and is quite akin to what you can find in Malate – rows of bars and restaurants including one Suka at Sili, owned by couples Edgar Ang and wife Maita, and Ronald and Gene Bangayan. As its name suggests, the restaurant prides itself in these famous local condiments.

Davao City, indeed, has a lot to offer and The Venue is just one of the many. If tourists won’t allow themselves to be cowed by misimpressions, they’d surely find a "treasure" waiting for them in this southern Mindanao city. All they have to do is give this prime destination a chance. Besides, it’s all worth it.

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