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Post Halloween Special : Revisiting Durian Hotel
by Jojie Alcantara
When the Asian economic crisis hit the country in 1997, major hotels suffered a breakdown in Davao, and while several struggled and recuperated through the crisis, two hotels didn’t — Durian Hotel and the ambitious Ekran Berhad in Samal.
Durian Hotel in its time was one of the tallest structures in Davao City at 12 storeys high. It was prominent, elegant and a prime location at the heart of the city. Low occupancy because of decreasing tourist arrivals as well as high operational expenses eventually led to its closure by Metrobank.
In 2011, after securing a special permit to shoot, we climbed up the rooftop of this old hotel so we can shoot top views of the malls for our photo exhibit. Rhonson and I were accompanied by Lyn and Liza, my brave buddies since elementary, and Arthur, who confessed to running all the way to the rooftop through the stairs and closing his eyes in the dark. He came in late, you see. It was an opportunity to shoot Victoria Plaza, Davao’s oldest mall, and Abreeza, the latest mall to open that year. We had to wait for sundown to get the night shots so hanging out at the rooftop was a novelty.
While using the rundown elevator (note the cracks on its glass walls) tops the list of scary rides as it creaked going up, climbing down the stairs with just a guard on duty bearing a flashlight in the dark could well be the creepiest descent ever.
In my honest opinion, for those of us who used to frequent the old place, there was nothing to fear inside the premises if you’re familiar with it. The kind guard told us they have ready made rooms for inspection by potential investors and were always ready for sudden visits.
The elevator has its usual routinary checkups (which spurred youtube video sightings claiming it was haunted and operates by itself). Being a “sensitive”, I didn’t feel spooked during my stay, and so did my buddies.
I am posting this album to bring nostalgia to those who used to hang out for coffee or dining, or work here. Hopefully in the near future, the investors of the new and refurbished hotel will bring back to life a once wonderful landmark in Davao.