Davao Region

Davao Region

Davao Region / Southern Mindanao, designated as Region XI,[1] is one of the regions of the Philippines, located on the southeastern portion of Mindanao. Davao Region consists of four provinces, namely: Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur. The region encloses the Davao Gulf and its regional center is Davao City. Davao is the Hispanicized pronunciation of daba-daba, the Bagobo word for “fire” (the Cebuano translation is “kalayo”).


Many historians believe that the name “Davao” is actually the mixture of the three names that three different tribes, the earliest settlers in the region, had for the Davao River. The Obos, an aboriginal tribe, referred to the Davao River as Davohoho. Another tribe, the Bagobos, referred to the river as Davohaha, which means “fire”, while another tribe, the Guiangan tribe, called the river as Duhwow.

The history of the region dates back to the times when various tribes occupied the region. It is believed that the Manobos, Mandayas and the Bagobos actually occupied the area. These are the same tribes that created the small settlements and communities that eventually became Mindanao.

Spanish Administration

History shows that for centuries the tribes lived in relative peace until the Spanish, under the adventurous Spanish businessman Don Jose Uyanguren, arrived in the region in 1847. At that time, the Moro tribal chieftain Datu Bago was in control of the area in what is now Davao City. Don Uyanguren attempted to conquer the area which Datu Bago had ruled; although he failed at first, the Moro chieftain eventually evacuated his people to live in the areas near Mount Apo. This is the time the town of Davao, then called Nueva Vergara by the Spaniards, was established in the year 1848; the official recording of the history about the region begins in this year.

Don Uyanguren attempted to develop the region. Although the Spanish gained the upper hand when they finally controlled the ports of the region, the population of Davao grew very slowly until the arrival of Christian missionaries in the area.

Philippine Administration

Davao Province

Even before the Philippine independence in 1946, the entire region was already a single province called Davao Province, with Davao City serving as its capital. The province was one of the largest provinces in the Philippines during that time, spanning more than 20,000 square kilometers; it lasted from 1920 until 1967, when the province split into three provinces, namely: Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur. After the division, Davao City was officially named its regional center.


The region has a generally uniform distribution of rainfall through the year. It lies outside the typhoon belt.