Doña Luisa: A trip to the President's residence

DAVAO CITY-  Doña Luisa Subdivision Phase I is a small middle-class community located in the suburb of Matina.

Lately the subdivision has become a destination of sorts for tourists and residents alike. A plain-looking green house in the edge of Doña Luisa’s Sapphire Street is the home of the long-time City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, now the country’s 16th President.

A visit to the President’s house is the focal-point of the “Duterte Tour” spearheaded by the Department of Tourism. The visitors are taken to a brief tour of the street fronting the house and also well-known projects of the city mayor like the Central 911 and Museo Dabawenyo.

Sapphire Street is located at the farthest end of the subdivision, bordering the golfing greens of the Davao City Golf and Country Club. Visitors are told to park their car at the adjacent Jade Street. Before entering the street the visitors are told to sign at a logbook located in a police checkpoint.

Sapphire Street

The Visitors are limited to just gawking at the frontage of the house or taking a selfie with the President’s standee put up in front of the gate.

The house tour entails a brief walk and along the way several enterprising residents have set up small shops,  selling souvenir items such as key chains, ref magnets, caps, mugs, stickers and shirts.

Enterprising residents set up shop selling souvenir items

Jenny Martinez a former Emergency Medical Technician of the Davao 911 sells tuna pastil (tuna flakes and steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves), pork barbeque, siomai, ube flan and choco flan. Their home is a few houses away from the President.

“I started selling after the President’s proclamation when more and more people came here.” Jenny says. 

She learned her recipes from watching You Tube. The Pastil she learned from a friend who used to cook for a Muslim royal family in Cotabato.

She says the enterprise was to augment her income, she resigned from her job to take care of her ill father.

Jenny Martinez (left) at her barbeque and pastil stand

One of the best pastils I've tasted

The barbeque and the pastil is a hit among the tourists and Jenny's neighbors. Jenny sells around 40 barbeque sticks and 45 pastils an average. The food are cheaply priced ten pesos for a stick of barbeque, twelve pesos for pastil, ube flan sells for twelve pesos.

We don’t have rent to pay, we don’t hire helpers, there is little overhead expenses, so I can afford to sell these in a lower price. “I don’t really want to take of advantage by selling the food at a higher price.” Jenny says.

She says she had not seen the President around the subdivision after being proclaimed as President. “He used to walk around the community, s really humble person.”

Jenny though expects her enterprise to close shop soon as there are plans of banning visitors going to the street due to security concerns.

John Dale Bation  became well-known in social media when the picture of him and the then Mayor Digong riding his pedicab went viral online.

John Dale Bation and the pedicab where the President rode

John Dale's ref magnets

“The President rode my pedicab, he wanted to go the carinderia along the highway to eat there.” John Dale recalls.

Now John Dale is no longer plying his pedicab, he had converted it into a rolling store selling souvenir items. Among the saleable items are key chains and ref magnets.

He estimates that 1,000 tourists visit the President’s house on weekends, on weekdays about 300 to 500 people. John Dale earns a gross income of P1,500 daily. The items he sells came from his friends whom he asked to make and supply for his needs.

Visitors in front of the President's residence

“The President is really down to earth. He just walks around the subdivision.” John Dale says.

John Dale’s rolling store is located at the frontage of Mercy’s Hulagpos’s home located just a stone-throw away from the President’s home. She allows John Dale to continue his trade.

“He is just like one of us.” Mercy describes the President as a neighbor. He walks around the subdivision and mingles with the residents.

Mercy says tourists have enlivened the street. Most of the visitors came from Luzon and Visayas. Occasionally they could see celebrities as among the visitors to the house.

Mercy and John Dale says that with their Mayor becoming President , things have become safer at Dona Luisa particularly with the added police presence in the area. 

The homeowners association is also beefing up subdivision security by requiring homeowner vehicles to have stickers and pedicab drivers plying the area to have their IDs.

With the Kadayawan Festival in the city, Mercy and John Dale are expecting more tourists to visit the house and with it they would be willing to share an anecdote or two of their Presidential neighbor. 

Evening visit with friends


  1. hi umm,so do you guys know where matina suburb is? im just wondering

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