Davao City in southern Philippines -- the de facto cultural, economic and political epicenter of Mindanao -- is voted the country's most livable urban center for many years running. Davao's got it all: pristine white beaches, thick rain forests, teeming wildlife sanctuaries, sunny island retreats, green mountain resorts, invigorating city parks, lush timberland, pineapple/banana/coffee/coconut plantations, and a balmy typhoon-free weather all year round.
Its more important residents -- besides the spontaneous, laid-back and fun-loving Davaoeño locals -- include the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), one of the world's biggest and most powerful birds of prey; Waling-Waling (Vanda sanderiana), the world's largest orchid species; and the three-peaked Mt. Apo, the country's highest mountain at nearly 3,000 meters.
There's plenty of breathing space to be had here, too. Davao's 2,444-square-kilometer land area can cover the whole expanse of the cities of London, Moscow, New York and Paris put together, plus maybe six or seven soccer fields to fill the loose gaps. In contrast, it has only about 1.8-million inhabitants (as of 2005), compared to Paris -- just a little less than 90 km² of it -- with over 2-million residents. While the country's literacy rate is pegged at 93.9%, Davao City rakes in a high 98.05%.
Hundred Islands, Hundred Wonders. Pangasinan is best known for Hundred Islands/Islets looking like giant turtles in Alaminos City, pilgrimage in Manaog, and a thriving Bangus (milkfish) and s…