Davao, 5 August 2009. I have been to all over the world and have visited various famous tourist spots which you can only see in postcards. In the Philippines, we have Tagaytay and Baguio as the most-often visited places. So, I was surprised to find a place in Davao which can be comparable to those both destinations. The place is a world-class destination.
I am referring to Eden Nature Park, a beautiful man-made resort nestled at the foot of Mount Talomo in Toril. Its brochure said: "It is truly a testament to how man's ingenuity and concern for the environment can create a paradise on earth, making Eden a must-visit ecological tourist destination in the Philippines."
At 2,650 feet above sea level, Eden Nature Park offers breath taking views of Davao City and the Davao gulf. "This place was remnant of logging concessionaires in the 1970s and was covered only by a blanket of wild grass," said Ryann Senillo, our tourist guide.
Jesus V. Ayala, who owned the area, saw the potential of the place in 1971. So, he instructed his people to make terraces carved out of the mountain slope. As this developed, thousands of pine trees seedlings were planted to revitalize the area. Bamboos, which are native to the place, were left to flourish.
Growing pine trees created canopies, allowing other trees and plants to grow and create secondary forest. Today, there are over 100,000 pine trees spread in about 80 hectares, making the resort 95% man-made. Today, the once-barren piece of land provides a relaxing alternative to the bustling city life with its cool weather and unpolluted air. Some visitors who had been to the place suggest bringing a jacket if you plant to stay past five in the afternoon.
Organically grown vegetables.
Now, the places to see and visit while there. Topping my list is the vegetable gardens and greenhouses. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and spices are grown organically. Several varieties of lettuce are grown using the state-of-the-art hydroponics technology. Some of these are harvested and served fresh at the Vista Restaurant (which can also be an ideal venue for concerts/performances, weddings and other special events).
Next is the amphitheatre and flower garden. The amphitheater is reminiscent of the ancient Roman civilization. The site presents another excellent view of Davao City and its gulf.
Our guide said that in 2005, the Davao episode of TV show, "Game Ka Na Ba?" was filmed at Eden Nature Park. Just a walking distance away from amphitheatre is the flower garden, where different ornamentals in varied colors are planted together.
If you take the 45-minute guided shuttle tour (available on a first-come-first-served basis), the amphitheatre is the first stop-over. The next is at Lola's Garden. This is a cool place situated in one of the park's most panoramic view of Davao City. There is a nipa-hut where a statue of a carabao is displayed nearby. A few steps is the wishing decorated with abundant hibiscus in various colors.
A nipa hut in Tinubdan.
Another must-see is the Tinubdan, the park's cultural journey into the heartland of Mindanao's indigenous heritage. A replica village was built in the midst of the park. Among those you can see are the chief and shaman's houses, statues of indigenous people doing kaingin farming, and herbal gardens, among others.
The park has two nurseries which house hundreds of thousands of seedlings of pine, eucalyptus, teak, narra, molave, mahogany, and other trees. Another nursery is home to various ornamental and flowering plants.
Across the tree nursery is a collection of fruit trees, among them papaya, star apple, atis, durian, marang, and rambutan. Macadamia and chest nuts are also planted in the park. You can also see dragon fruits growing in between the trees.
If you enjoy hiking, follow the mountain trail. Carved along towering trees, creeks and boulders, it is an experience of a real adventure and a test of endurance and determination to finish the entire course. Be in touch with the sights and sounds of nature as you walk along the 4-kilometer trail.
Two other interesting amenities are the swimming pool and the fishing village. The pool is located at the highest point of the park. On the other hand, you can bond with your family or friends as you experience the thrill of fishing in an upland environment. Sumptuous tilapia and hito are the prized catch for the fishers.
The park was named after the name of the barangay where it is situated. According to some people, the barangay was called in honor of a beautiful resident named Edeng. Her Japanese husband reportedly couldn't pronounce correctly her name, so he called her Eden. Because of her beauty, the barangay was named after her.
I don't know if the origin of the name is a myth. I thought it was named after the famous Garden of Eden as mentioned in the book Genesis.As one visitor puts it: "Eden is a nature park par excellence from accommodation, facilities, foods, prices and travel arrangements. The trip was very worthy considering the nice view on the way and back. The place is really true to its name, a paradise on Earth."
From Davao City, you must travel south towards the Toril District. At the corner of Mercury drug in the main highway, make a right and just follow the signs towards barangay Eden. From there, it is a 12-kilometer uphill climbconsisting of asphalted, cemented and short stretches of dirt road. Travel time is 45 minutes.
There are rooms, cottages, mountain villas and suites available for rent just incase you want to stay for the night or spend the entire day there. Check with the Activity Center, the information nerve, for the accommodation and overnight rates.
Photography by Henrylito Tacio