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Davao City's ChinaTown

Davao ChinaTown, also known as Mindanao ChinaTown, is the only ChinaTown in Mindanao located in the island's de facto capital, Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines. At around 44 hectares, it is at the center of numerous business establishments, of which a great majority is owned by Chinese Filipinos who were either born in the country or naturalized Filipino citizens who trace their roots to mainland China.

by Jhaypee Guia on January 30, 2014
Davao City

Davao ChinaTown, also known as Mindanao ChinaTown, is the only ChinaTown in Mindanao located in the island's de facto capital, Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines. At around 44 hectares, it is at the center of numerous business establishments, of which a great majority is owned by Chinese Filipinos who were either born in the country or naturalized Filipino citizens who trace their roots to mainland China. These business establishments include about 30 banks, a wide variety of restaurants offering not only Chinese cuisine but also Korean, Filipino and the like. Chinese themed malls and shops also pockmark this business enclave of the city of Davao which is globally known as the international gateway and most progressive city of Mindanao. It is the only Chinatown in The Philippines with its own seaport that is Sta. Ana Wharf. The Davao Chinatown encompasses the areas of Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, Monteverde Avenue, Sta. Ana Avenue, and Leon Garcia Street.


In 2003, then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued an Executive Order declaring portions of Barangay 27-C and Barangay 30-C, where streets are mostly occupied by Filipino-Chinese with their respective businesses, as Davao City Chinatown and constituting the Davao City Chinatown Development Council (DCCDC). The creation of the DCCDC aims to assist in the active formulation and implementation of policies in an area that has great commercial, historical, economic and social significance to the Davao City.

The further development of Chinatown was an initiative of the Davao City Council Tourism Committee Chairperson, Ms. Susan Isabel Reta.

On January 5, 2009, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 01, Series of 2009, "An Order Creating the Executive Committee (Execom) of the 1st Davao Chinese New Year Festival."

"Its whereas(es) provides that "the City Government of Davao, through the Davao City Chinatown Development Council, is committed to promote the development of Chinatown as one of the major historical, economic, and cultural centers of the city."

The Davao City Chinatown Development Council saw it fitting to formally launch the city's own Chinatown during the Chinese New Year, which fell on January 26, 2009, through a week-long festival that began January 24 through January 31, 2009.

The Archways

To further cement their place in Davao's history, active Dabawenyo Tsinoys or Filipino Chinese in English, decided to have a visible signage delineating Chinatown. Thus, the idea of creating archways in the four borders of the Chinatown was born.

The archways, also known as the "pailou" or "paifang," can be either of a memorial or decorative nature. It could be made of wood, brick or stone, with or without glazed tiles, often carrying some inscriptions on the middle beam.

Many pailous were erected to praise the "lofty virtues" of certain individuals in the locality. Fettered by the feudal ethical code, many widowed women refrained from remarriage just in the hope to have a "pailou of chastity" built for them when they reached a ripe old age.

The first archway in Davao City, christened as "Arch of Friendship," was inaugurated in August 2008. The structure is sponsored by the heirs of Francisco Villa-Abrille (Lim Chuan Juna) and is along Magsaysay Ave., near Jones Circle.

Local columnist Janet Huang-Teves, a descendant of Lim Chuan Juna, said the landmark by Architect Arnel Villacampa was inspired by the 400-year-old architectural designs of Yuan Garden in Shanghai, China.

The columns were designed similar as the bamboo, a traditional construction material of the Chinese. The archway is embellished with fish and pearl, the symbols of the Villa-Abrille Family whose ancestry originated from Amoy, China, now Xiamen.

The second archway dubbed as "Unity" was inaugurated on January 31, 2009 with the Chinese Consul-General in attendance.

The Unity Archway, sponsored by Tsinoy organization Dabaw Kaisa Foundation, is located at the other end of Ramon Magsaysay Avenue near the Magsaysay Park in Manuel Quezon Boulevard. It was donated by members of the Dabaw Kaisa Foundation, and was inaugurated on January 31, 2009 with the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, the Honorable He Shijing in attendance.

The third archway is called the "Arch of Peace", and is situated at the corners of Jose P. Laurel, and Sta. Ana Avenues near the Davao Central High School. It was donated by the Yuchengco Group of Companies headed by Mr. Alfonso Yuchengco, former Philippine Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. The Arch of Peace was officially inaugurated on July 20, 2009.

Points of Interest

  • The Mindanao Taoist Temple is located in the middle of RGA Village, between Dakudao and Cabaguio Avenues. The temple with its tall red brick pagoda is an example of feng shui architecture particular with its octagonal shaped structure. A noted example of the synergism of the beliefs of Chinese-Filipinos can be found in the images on display at the temple. Alongside images of Lao Tzu is the image of Jesus Christ who is also revered by Taoists. The Mindanao Taoist Temple used to be the highest structure around the Cabaguio-Dacudao area.
  • Long Hua Temple also located in Cabaguio Avenue. The Buddhist temple is the biggest in Mindanao and the most popular temple in Davao City. It is home to kung fu monks and a school (Sakya Academy).  Various Chinese (Taiwanese) tourists and migrants visit this place to worship and pay respect. Long Hua, which means Temple of the Dragon, features several images and intricate wood carvings of Buddha.
  • Santiago Temple, located in a property near Gaisano Mall of Davao, is a temple used to be seen on JP Laurel Avenue until a building was built in front of it. Now it is completely hidden from view, accessible only by a narrow street alley.  The temple was visited by the devotees of Kuan Kong, a Chinese general who lived during 200 A.D. in the time of the three Kingdoms of China who became known as the Chinese God of War. Kuan Kong or Santiago temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Davao, built in 1957 by the local Chinese community who associate Kuan Kong as the great protector particularly of the business people. In China, the deity, through his protective influences, is also regarded as the symbol of wealth and prosperity.
  • Po Lian Temple

Shopping Malls

  • NCCC Main Davao - founded by Lim Tian Siu, grew up in Chin Kang, Fukien, China in 1919. A name in Davao City for more than 30 yrs now, a shopping destination that once started as a textile business in 1952.
  • DCLA Plaza - known for very cheap buys from electronic to dry goods.
  • Chinatown 168 Mall - a controversial chinatown mall because of its name and its similarity to a mall in Binondo. A tiangge or flea market type of mall.
  • Chimes Mall - a specialty store of Felcris corporation. This mall houses hi-end brands of restaurants and clothing.
  • Yahu Plaza - it means bountiful in Fookien. A 5-storey mall located along F. Banggoy St. between Monteverde and Uyangguren streets.

Hotels and Inns

  • Pinnacle Hotel and Suites
  • Regency Inn Davao
  • BS Inn
  • Sequoia Inn
  • Evergreen Hotel
  • Southern Tourist Inn
  • Hari Royale Hotel

Getting There

By land

The common modes of public transportation are multicabs, jeepneys, tricycles, buses, and taxis. Multicabs and jeepneys ply 82 designated passenger vehicle routes around the clock. Tricycles ply the routes that are outside the main streets of the city. Taxis have several routes in and outside Davao City. In mountainous areas, the habal-habal passenger motorcycle is the main mode of transportation.

Davao City offers a wide bus network connection to major cities and provinces, not only in Mindanao but even as far as Manila and Pasay City in Luzon. The city is accessible by bus to and from points in Mindanao like Cotabato, Monkayo, Kidapawan, Midsayap, Digos, General Santos, Koronadal, Isulan, Tacurong, Tagum, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Butuan, and with Manila in Luzon.

The DPWH is proposing to build the Tagum-Davao City-Digos Light Rail Transit, which will be the first on Mindanao island, and the construction of the Davao-Samal Bridge, which will be like the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in the United States, to begin in 2017.

By sea

Davao is connected to Manila by a series of roll-on roll-off or inter-island ferry connection.

The city is served by domestic passenger ferries at Sasa Port and Sta. Ana Wharf, both of which are the international seaports of the Port of Davao, the busiest port in Mindanao. This port could service both inter-island and international shipments. It is located the Davao Gulf and its port of entry has two approaches; one is at the Pakiputan Strait between Davao and the water west of Samal Island.

By air

Davao City has direct flights to major cities in the Philippines and some Asian cities. The Francisco Bangoy International Airport serves the general area of the city and its surrounding areas.

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