To appreciate more  and have understanding of  Davao today, it is good to know and have a glimpse of it’s colorful past.  Here, you will know the historical background of Davao City.

The name Davao has many interesting meanings.  Folktales about Davao are too many.  Davao is more folklore than fact.

Davao is said to have derived its name from the word Daba-Daba, a region of flames or fire as recorded in the books of early Jesuit priests.  Some sources say this word is of Bagobo origin which is the name of the sacred brush that belonged to the chieftain of the early Bagobos named Datu Duli who lived in the rolling hills of Sandawa Mountain.  As was the custom during ancient times, the Bagobos kept the fire burning twenty four hours a day throughout the year.  And the fire was supposed to be burning at the foot of the sacred brush called Daba-Daba.  It was said that Datu Duli, the Bagobo chieftain was just in his decision over an accused person.  Other Bagobos then pronounced the word Daba-Daba with the sound “o” at the end.  It was said it had been practiced by Datu Duli when he rendered decisions in settling cases.  As time went on, the Bagobos of the succeeding generation changed the word Daba-Daba to just Daba and added the letter “o” to justify the actuations of Datu Duli in rendering his decisions.  Thus the ancient Bagobo word Daba-Daba is now pronounced Davao by both natives and immigrants.

Some also say that Davao was derived from the name of a Manobo rebel Dabao.  Others maintain that the name Davaw was derived from the name dabahan, a big basin for laundering used by natives.  Still another derivation of the name was from the word daba meaning earthen pot or palayok which the early natives made and sell as their means of livelihood.  When mountain dwellers got down to the lowlands the first thing they looked for and bought was the daba.