Davao Beauty: Malagos Garden Resort

I was in Davao City early last September with other members of the media for the Cebu Pacific Familiarization Tour. It was a collaborative project with the Department of Tourism of Davao and was supported by varied resorts, hotels, restaurants and Selrahco Management and Consultancy Services.
Personally, one of the most interesting part of the trip was the visit to Malagos Garden Resort located in Brgy. Malagos, Baguio District of Davao City. The resort is situated 1,180 feet above sea level.
It is owned by siblings Dr. Bo and Charisse Puentespina, who are both of Ilonggo descent. Their mother is a Passinhon while their father is from Molo.
At MGR, one will witness a funny, interactive and full production bird show. Hosted by Dr. Bo himself, this show aims to create awareness on the plight of our birds and present simple ways people can help protect and conserve the environment. There were at least 10 species and 75 birds that performed individually or as a group. At the end of the bird show, spectators were more aware of varied laws pertaining to the environment, such as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, Republic Act 9003 or The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act RA 9147.
These birds are part of the Malagos Bird Park population. The park is home to lorikeets, peacocks, rehabilitated native hornbills and some smaller eagles. They breed ornamental species like ostrich, pheasants, ducks and fowls. The breeding of these birds provide funds for research on the conservation, husbandry and breeding of Mindanao’s native species. Dr. Bo revealed that the bird park has released a number of lorikeets to the wild.
We fed some of the birds at the Bird Feeding and Watching Dome. The dome houses cockatoos, chattering lorry, heron, kingfisher, barred rail, nicobar pigeon, imperial pigeon, wandering whistling duck, frigate bird and pheasants.
MGR’s other educational activities are the Animal Encounter Show, Mushroom Culture, Butterflies and Moth Garden, Creek Ecosystem and Cacao and Organic Farming at the Puentespina Farm’s Cacao Model Farm. The farm also raises goats, cows, ostrich and other animals.
Produce from the farm are being served at the resort. They have goat’s and cow’s cheese, of which we had a taste of. I liked the goat’s cheese better as it is more salty. They also make Ostrich Burger Steak, Ostrich Salpicao, Ostrich Beer Stick, Hot Chocolate, Tableya Cake, Bignay Wine and Bignay Jam. The wine and jam came from ‘bignay’ berries.
They also have coconut by-products like lavender, citrus and tableya soaps, coffee scrub made from virgin coconut oil, massage oil, virgin coconut oil cream and virgin coconut oil ideal for drinking or as a salad dressing.
MGR is also home to the beautiful Waling-Waling, the official flower of the city of Davao. Waling-Waling means “graceful movement of a butterfly in flight”. It blooms once a year and grows well when planted on trees. Some notable personalities who have planted the said orchid in the forest were former Vice President Noli de Castro, Senator Loren Legarda and Luli Arroyo, daughter of Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Noah’s Ark, located just before Bird Show park, is also home to animal topiaries using various ornamental plants like Fukien Tea, Chinese Holly and Eugenia, among others.
Just near the Feeding and Watching Dome is a display of the artworks of national artist for sculpture Napoleon Abueva. He’s the same person who did the oblation of the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus. The exhibit, which started eight years ago, features over 40 art pieces. These art pieces are for sale.
MGR is easily reached by public or private transportation.
You can arrange for a shuttle pick up from the airport for P2,000, one way. Prior booking is required. If you’re coming by car, head south from the city. Turn right at the Ulas Junction, use the Davao-Bukidnon Highway. Turn left upon reaching Calinan, turn right towards Malagos heading towards the same direction as the Philippine Eagle Center. Travel time from the city takes 30 to 45 minutes.
By public transport, you can take the All Aboard L300 van (telephone number: 2993969) which has pick up and drop off points all over the city. The average fare from Bankerohan to Calinan is P60 per person. You can also take the taxi, which will cost P700 one way. Another option is to take the bus and L300 vans to Calinan Proper, then a motorcycle to Malagos. The bus and vans leave Bankerohan terminal (corner of Quirino Avenue and San Pedro Extension) every 15 minutes and travel time is approximately 45 minutes to one hour.
A visit to MGR when in Davao is a must. It’s best to stay there for several days as they have guest rooms and tents.
The resort’s appeal transcends our usual notion of “just visiting something new” when on vacation. For a simple traveller, this place’s attraction is not limited to what one can see; the interaction with nature and the animals is endless. For someone who wants to get into the resort business, MGR is the perfect benchmark – a place that sincerely protects, cares and propagates God’s creations.


After a trip to Malagos, we dropped by the Abreeza Mall. One of the things that struck me was how they segregate their garbage that even grade schoolers can understand it (paper, plastic, cans and others). How the Dabawenyos deal with their surroundings is was also notable. There were no exposed garbage or scattered stuff everywhere. The city is so clean even in an old area like China town. In every location, there were three big, well-covered, dark-colored garbage cans. Our tour guide, Malou said that the Dabawenyos are well-disciplined because their leaders have political will./Marie Katherine Villalon

First row: The interactive bird show park. Dr. Bo Puentespina holds a gold and blue macau. Bird Feeding and Watching Dome.
Second row: May Jimena of Selrahco feeds the birds. Noah's Ark. Walk on water inside a bubble
Third row: The writer rides a calesa. Goat's cheese.
Fourth row: 'Fourteenth Station' by Napoleon Abueva at the Kaganapan Dome. Guest room. A cottage at Malagos.

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