Davao City is huge metropolis. When the heat of the concrete jungle gets too much for comfort, it’s good to know that there’s a sanctuary in the middle of the city. Aside from the air-conditioned comfort of malls and restaurants, Davao City has Peoples Park to provide a space to breathe without having to spend a centavo.
Davao City Peoples Park is a sprawling complex with shaded sitting areas, refreshing (man-made) landscapes, a 1000-meter jogging path, and lots of plants. The park sits at the heart of the city, surrounded by towering buildings, hotels, and commercial centers. It is an oasis in the middle of the pulsating desert that is downtown Davao.
A Little History
Davao City Peoples Park sits on the former PTA grounds. The area used to be a multipurpose grounds for sporting events, trade fairs, and concerts. I remember watching local athletes run endless laps in the oval, swim in the pool, or play a game of soccer. PTA Grounds also played host to numerous inter-regional affairs and I can vividly remember cheer-dancing for our high school in one of them.
In 2007, the City Government of Davao converted the PTA Grounds into a P72M park. The once barren piece of land transformed into a patch of green in the middle of the city. Think NYC’s Central Park, only on a much much much smaller scale. The city held a naming contest for the park, the winner of which won P50,000. Former Mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte officially inaugurated Davao City Peoples Park on December 15, 2007.
Davao City Peoples Park has pocket forests, man-made waterfalls and ponds, a children’s playground, a brick-laden jogging path, and a visitor’s center, among others.
A gigantic sculpture of the Philippine Eagle, one of the city’s symbols, welcomes visitors as they enter the park. The sculpture, as well as all others situated all over the park, is the work of famous Mindanao artist Kublai Millan.
They retained the oval race track from the old PTA Grounds and transformed it into a beautiful path laden with bricks now called The Promenade. Local health enthusiasts jog and so all sorts of fitness routines in this path that circles are entire complex.
Inside the Promenade is a plaza with benches sitting under the shade of African tulips. It’s a fine place to rest one’s feet after hours of sightseeing in the city. Pigeons provide laid-back entertainment, often chased by curious children.
Close to the plaza is a bridge looking out into the park’s dancing fountain, the first of its kind in the city. Though the fountain is not on all the time, the sculptures of different tribal people still provide an excellent backdrop for photos.
Davao City Peoples Park also features a sunken garden, a remnant of the old swimming pool where athletes used to practice. They converted the hollow area into a zen-inspired garden, complete with a bridge in the middle. Close to the sunken garden is a children’s library and a pond where numerous koi fish thrive.
The Durian Dome is where the Visitor’s Center is located. Visitors can actually go up a flight of stairs to the dome. The dome’s spikes are reminiscent of the durian fruit for which Davao City is famous. The Durian Dome is located close to the park’s entrance/exit gates.
Other attractions in the park include a 10-meter man-made waterfall that flows into yet another pond with koi fish. The water also goes into smaller streams and ponds scattered all over the man-made rainforest planted with bamboo and pine trees that were brought in from the Cordilleras of Luzon.
How To Get There
Davao City Peoples Park is located at the junction of J. Palma Gil and Jose Camus Streets. It is a few steps from a lot of hotels including Apo View Hotel, Casa Leticia, Royal Mandaya Hotel, and Legaspi Suites. Davao City Hall, Gaisano South Mall, and Rizal Promenade are also a walking distance of the park.
You can ride a cab from anywhere in Davao City and be taken right to the park’s entrance. Or if you don’t mind a short walk, take a jeepney and just ask the driver to drop you off at the closest point to Davao City Peoples Park. Since all jeepney routes lead to downtown Davao, there’s very little chance of getting lost.
If you’re ever in the city and you want a breath of fresh air without having to go too far, I suggest you go to Davao City Peoples Park. It’s a great place for resting your feet, having a snack, or catching up with an old friend. Plus, the Pasalubong Center and all its local sweets and products you can take home are just a few steps away.