The Philippines’ archipelagic structure paved the way to establishing its influential capital cities in the three major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. While you can find the country’s capital in Luzon, Visayas has Cebu, and Mindanao has Davao, all equally important in bringing the Philippines its promising global status.
But the comparison has always been targeted to Davao and Cebu due to both being under provincial territories and having similar attractions like beaches, rainforests, and grandiose festivals. It’s already a win-win situation if you’ve chosen any of the two as a travel destination. However, many similarities and differences will win your judgment whether it’s Davao or Cebu to pick.
Cost of Living and Economy
Thriving in Cebu is considered more costly than living in Davao. Studies show that Cebu’s cost is 30% more in restaurants, 1.5% more in groceries, and 42.7% more in transportation than Davao. Cebu housing could cost 9.9% more than Cebu while 6% more in both clothing and entertainment.
Cebu is highly urbanized and the first to be industrialized than Davao, which explains why it has a higher cost of living. But don’t be fooled by the figures since Davao’s cost of living is just next to Cebu.
In terms of economic contribution, both provinces and their capital cities support the country’s stability. Cebu specializes in maritime trading and transportation, while Davao specializes in agricultural products and exportation worldwide. In 2018, Davao defeated Cebu’s generated income. Economists view Davao as a promising province since it hasn’t reached its peak yet as an urbanized province, unlike Cebu.
If you stay for a limited time, Cebu’s attractions can be ideal because of several beaches, diving sites, and tourist attractions near the metropolitan area. Most tourists prefer Cebu since they can plunge into the beach and switch to strolling Cebu’s bustling city and nightlife in a few minutes. Accommodations like luxury hotels and expensive dining places are plenty in Cebu compared to Davao. However, traffic can be terrible in Cebu, though especially during rush hours.
You can find many ancient historical sites in Cebu City alone, such as the Cebu City Heritage Monument, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and the oldest church in the country, the Basilica del Santo Nino. These sites are near shopping centers like Ayala Center Shopping Mall and SM Mall.
Davao’s lack of nightlife is compensated by its nature parks, animal sanctuaries, beautiful beaches, and affordable transient houses by the beach for those rooting for a more laid-back atmosphere. The highest mountain peak is in Davao, including the breeding facility for the largest bird species in the world, the Philippine Eagle.
The abundance of city ordinances and strict enforcement make Davao a safer province compared to Cebu. While once safety can be subjective since it is dependent on your safety practices, living or vacationing in Davao poses a lower risk of crimes like pickpocketing, mugging, fraud, and terrorism.
Foreign visitors are often the target of these crimes, so it is important to be constantly wary of your money and belongings. Women can travel safely in Davao, but it’s also important to walk under the lit areas at night and avoid deserted places. You can always ask roving police officers for directions, and most of the people could speak English, so navigating Davao won’t be a problem.
Cebu is more prone to flooding and landslides, especially the lowland areas, in terms of natural calamities. Davao is also at risk of casualties though it is relatively low because of its geographical location.
Food can be subjective, and both Cebu and Davao win the round of having distinct food variations. Night markets in both provinces offer the same street food, such as grilled chicken intestines, barbecue, and chicken feet. For fried goodies, Cebu has its street food called Pungko-pungko, which consists of various fried foods like chicken, egg, tempura, squid balls, and even fried vegetables. Street foods in Cebu and Davao could cost you just less than a dollar.
The two provinces were also former Spanish settlements, so both have Hispanic touch on their cuisines. Cebu’s trademark delicacy is the “Lechon,” a spice-filled roasted pork dish iconic for its crispy skin and juicy meat. Meanwhile, Davao has its version of Ceviche or Filipino sashimi called “Kinilaw.”
You can find the biggest festivals in the Philippines in both Cebu and Davao. Cebu celebrates Sinulog Festival every January, while Davao has the Kadayawan Festival every August. The Sinulog Festival is usually participated by 1-2 million spectators, making it the largest festivity in the country. However, in 2019, Davao marked 1.5 million visitors on its Kadayawan Festival from its usual 300,000 yearly visitors.
Sinulog Festival is purely a religious celebration to commemorate the Santo Niño, the province’s patron saint. On the other hand, Kadayawan Festival is celebrated to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Both festivities showcase colorful costumes, street dances, and lavish food feasts after the activities.
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