Davao city is the capital of the southern island of Mindinao of the Philippines. It sits at the head of the Davao Gulf and under the highest mountain in the Philippines Mt. Apo. Incidentally, the Davao Gulf is recognized as the best kept diving secret in the world. There are coral reefs and underwater canyons as well as more than thirty sunken Japanese warships from WW11 making it a divers paradise. In the gulf is the famous Samal Island being only a stone's throw from the mainland off the city and a short car ferry ride. The island is the home of many beach resorts and white sandy beaches making it both a popular holiday and retirement destination.
Because of this gulf and the mountain behind the city, Davao is one of the few typhoon free areas in the Philippines. Most areas of the Philippines are plagued every year by typhoons and torrential rains causing floods and mudslides and loss of life and displacing many families. My wife's house had been there from new for twenty years and when I checked the roof it had not moved even though it was only nailed on by the old roofing nail. So apart from the occasional flash flood after a heavy rain the weather in Davao is relatively calm. Calm and warm. I like the tropical climate where it is always the same every day. The temperature is around 30 degrees and it rains most evenings. Sure it can get a little sticky some days with high humidity but those days you head for one of the air conditioned malls and wander the shops and do coffee and lunch.
There must be half a dozen good shopping malls in Davao as in all Philippine cities as the locals love to shop. These don't open until 10am but stay open until 9pm seven days a week. Plenty of time for shopping. In the evenings they come alive as the locals like to go to the mall after work and shop and eat and socialize. Even on Christmas day they are still open although they open an hour later at 11am. This is because the Philippine Christmas is on Christmas eve with a family BBQ feast and present opening time at midnight. They are like big kids and can't wait until morning for Christmas. At midnight in most cities there is lots of fireworks and noise as the locals celebrate. Even the police would get so excited they would fire off their guns and the chief of police in Manila had to tape up the guns of all his staff on Christmas eve because people were getting injured by stray bullets.
Davao, however, has a ban on all fireworks and it is strictly enforced because of kids getting injured every year. Davao is the first city too, to ban smoking in all public places. They closed down all city bars at 2am because of the disturbance on the streets and recently imposed a 40kl. Speed limit in the city because of too many accidents. The local government is now promoting a local committee to eventually ban all junk food from the city and promote the growing and consuming of organic vegetables. It may be more difficult to ban junk food than it was to ban smoking but they are having a go. Many of these reforms are the work of the long time mayor who is a very popular figure and has been regularly voted in to do the job he has started.
When the mayor fist came to office Davao was one of the most lawless cities in the Philippines. My wife can remember having a gun stuck in her face as lawless gangs would come to town and demand their washing done and a meal served. The hard line approach by the mayor has turned that around and Davao is recognized as the safest city in the Philippines. By leading by example, the mayor has reinvigorated the police force and declared war on all criminal activity. He personally led the police force on shoot outs of criminal gangs. See an interesting Time Magazine article here.
So, most expats feel very safe living in Davao. Davao is not a small city being almost 1.5 million strong and having the largest land size of any other city in the world. Because the city tends to spread along the coast and is not very wide you never loose your sense of direction and so don't get lost. While I don't like big cities Davao feels to me like a big country town. And of course the people are lovely. As we walked to our ride each day one of the small local kids would run up to me and grab my hand and touch it to his forehead, a sign of respect over there. Bigger kids would come up to you with a high five and of course, because you were a foreigner, all the school girls would get the giggles. You would hear a truck passing and the familiar call, 'Hey Joe'. As a foreigner in the Philippine, you are made to feel quite special. That is probably another reason why I like it so much.