Around 33 kilometers farther north of Cebu City, past Mandaue and Compostela on the island’s eastern coast, is Danao City. Its name is taken from the Cebuano word danawan meaning “a small pond where carabaos wallow,” which marked its location during the Spanish period.
Danao is most picturesque when approached from the sea, giving one a sweeping view of its old coralstone Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church and Plaza Rizal. Its wharf is the jump-off point for ferries plying to nearby Camotes Island; private vehicles can also go on the roro (roll on-roll off) ferry from here. The city’s busy fish port is the landing site of the morning’s freshest catch from the surrounding waters.
The coastal city was a booming industrial center in the 70s where a cement factory, a sugar mill and a kraft paper mill were in full operations. Later expansions were an ice plant, a dry dock and inter-island lighterage, oxygen and acetylene plants, a foundry shop and coal mines. The city’s progress was largely shaped through the handiwork of Danao’s business and political legend, the late Ramon Durano, Sr., that the place came to be known as “Durano Country.”
These days Danao’s biggest plant is the Japanese-owned Cebu Mitsumi, Inc., an electronics company that manufactures micro motors, medical devices, modules for cameras and a host of other metal press and plastic injected parts, employing over 18,000 workers from and around the city.
Over the decades, its industrial landscape has changed significantly but Danao has historically been associated with gunmaking – specifically paltik, the local term for a homemade (and illegal) gun. The industry started as early as 1906 when gunsmiths produced firearms made mostly of bronze. During World War II, their operations went underground as they supplied weapons for the resistance movement against the Japanese, using scavenged metal from local junk yards. Drawing on the experience of nearly a century of gun-making, Danao’s craftsmen have acquired the skills and ingenuity to fashion powerful weapons that are almost as good as their imported counterparts, but at a fraction of the price. Efforts to legitimize the industry were done by forming a cooperative, but the low returns soon had the thousands of self-taught gunmakers back at their little home work sheds hidden up in the hills.
About 27 kilometers from Danao’s City Hall is the Danasan Eco Adventure Park. The mountain playground offers the thrill of a 440-meter zip line over a 50-foot cliff and a range of outdoor activities such as wakeboarding, horseback riding, and ATV driving. The 135-hectare recreational park has caves and waterfalls for adventure junkies to go spelunking and waterfall rappelling. Comfortable accommodations are available for overnight stays.
A unique attraction that would draw interest with better maintenance is at the Ramon Durano Foundation compound where the cement busts of over 260 popes are lined up at its park. Visitors to this quiet seaside city may while away their time at any of the beach resorts or play golf at the 18-hole Club Filipino de Cebu course.
Check out the other things you can do when visiting Danao City:
DURANO FOUNDATION. An interesting attraction at the Ramon Durano Foundation Complex are the cement busts of the past 260 popes that line up the expansive compound.
STO. TOMAS DE VILLANUEVA. Intricately carved wooden doors and pews adorn the interior of the Santo Tomas de Villanueva church. Partially damaged during World War II, the centuries-old coral stone church built in 1755 was reconstructed through the philanthropy of the late Ramon Durano, Sr.
CITY HALL. The Danao City Hall with its sleek and modern lines stands starkly in contrast to the nearby old stone parish church.
BOARDWALK. A pleasant place to enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll is the Durano-Macapagal Boardwalk, the city’s 13,000 square meter seaside promenade.
ADVENTURE PARK. Danasan Eco Adventure Park offers the thrill of wakeboarding over their man-made lake.