Carlos Celdran provided valuable input to the local tourism industry when he visited Davao City from 6 to 9 July 2011. On the 8th, the Department of Tourism – Region 11 arranged a powwow for Carlos and a new batch of graduates of DOT-11’s tour guiding program.
In his usual effervescent self, Carlos related to a rapt audience how he developed his signature tours of Old Manila, and gave the new tour guides insightful tips on how to conduct informative yet entertaining tours. Hopefully, he has planted seeds of innovative ideas in the minds of those present that day.
Also quite well-known (or notorious, depending on who’s talking) for his advocacy to get Congress to pass the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood bill, Carlos gamely welcomed questions about his legal tussle with the Catholic Church. He mentioned that he was delighted with Davao City for having had its own reproductive health ordinance for some years now.
As a token of appreciation, the group gifted Carlos with a framed abstract painting by Davao artist, Rey Aranda.
On 7 July, having dinner at Ronaldo’s on F. Torres St., I asked Carlos and his wife Tesa, DOT-11 regional director Art Boncato and About.com travel writer, Michael Aquino, if they knew a certain Michael Grosberg of Lonely Planet. Since we were all together to talk about the future of Davao tourism, it was but natural to bring up hearing about a popular travel publication, especially when one of its writers was in town. None of them knew Michael Grosberg, but I’d heard he was in Davao from Jackie Dizon (Maxima Beach House, Crocodile Park, etc.) and from my favorite dive shop that same day.
About the time when dessert was served, a man who had been having dinner alone in the restaurant approached our little group. Hearing your name bandied around by a party of chatty patrons, you’d be curious too. It was Michael Grosberg.
What were the chances, right??
Our evening became even more interesting with the second Michael in the group. He had been sent to Davao to update the city’s entry on Lonely Planet, which I hope will include some of the tidbits we were able to share with him. For example, I explained to Michael why, on that street where we were, the row of restaurants is punctuated by a funeral home.
(F. Torres Street was a lonely road way back when, and as far as I can remember, the funeral parlor had been there forever. Filipinos being the way they are with funerals, the need for places to eat nearby brought about the mushrooming of food establishments in the area. Of course, it also helps that one of Davao’s culinary institutions, Harana, had also been on that street since time immemorial.)
It was an evening of memorable conversation and exhilarating exchange of ideas. Too bad, though, that I wasn’t able to bring Michael G. scuba diving. He did, however, go on a white-water run with Sonny Dizon the following day.
Carlos & co.’s tour of Davao and Samal ended with a luxurious and sumptuous feast at the newly-reopened Café Marco on 8 July 2011. We were treated to a spectacular buffet that I’m sure people will be talking about for the next few weeks. Kudos to Marco Polo Hotel Davao for uplifting the city’s culinary experience!
Speaking with Director Boncato afterwards, we plan to follow through with some of Carlos Celdran’s ideas for Davao tourism. One of which is this: preserve the city’s history.
I’ve also promised to help the DOT in teaching the tour guides of the Davao region in using social media to level-up their chosen profession.