I am from Manila, but now claiming to be a DAVAOEÑA. Davao amidst IMPERFECTIONS has changed me — A LOT.
I honestly grew up in Luzon, Mandaluyong in particular.
The city has offered me a lot, it was the city that opened my mind to all sorts of “you-need-to-be-strong-to-survive” mentality. It was then, my comfort zone. The city was like a big playground for me.
Every day, I LIVE WITH FEAR IT MIGHT BE MY LAST. I WALK DOWNTOWN EVERYDAY having fear and be vigilant. The noise of the city becomes my music — a noisy music. I got no choice but dance with its rhythm. The fast-paced life feels like catching a train in the subway. You need to run to get on time and to reach your destination.
The people are a combination of friendly and fierce. They need to, we need to. The city taught me to COMPETE in everything I do in order to survive. I NEED TO CHOOSE WHO TO TRUST either in the palengke, mall, bus station, school, and anywhere else because the world there is cruel and I need to be careful of predators looking for an innocent prey. It taught me to sort out people I should trust and people I should not allow to see my vulnerabilities. I should be careful coz if not, my weaknesses will be taken advantage of.
“I should always be on guard so as not to expose my ‘achilles heel’.”
But nevertheless, I love where I came from. I’m NOT GENERALIZING, TOO. Do not get me wrong but living like that is honestly TIRING.
Until, I reached the age of 15 and was saddened by a news; I, with my whole family, will be transferring to Davao.
“Davao? Is Davao even a city, papa? Paano ko makikipag communicate eh bisaya sila? Paano sa school? Bago lahat schoolmates ko? Wala akong friends? Mindanao yan diba? Magulo na nga dito pupunta pa tayo duon.”
My words still resound so clearly until now. That moment, I was trying to convince my papa not to transfer to Davao. I was crying a river then hoping my tears will change my father’s mind, not to bring me to Davao. Yet, wala akong nagawa.
It was August of 2003, when my feet first touched the City of Davao. 9 o’clock in the evening, it was raining cats and dogs, that the heavens seemed like grieving and showing empathy towards me. My eyes wandered around as the taxi cab passed by the buildings and streets of this new city I will consider new “home”. I can still remember asking my papa of what does “MAAYONG PAG-ABOT SA DAKBAYAN SA DABAW!” means upon reading it in the terminal’s vicinity.
I was culture-shocked then. I got no friends. From extrovert changed into an introvert. I hated my papa for bringing me here in Davao City. Until the moment I was afraid of came. I need to go to school and widen my horizon.
On my way to school, I noticed the city was strange. Unlike the place I came from, Davao city seems calm, the people live every day with so much ANTICIPATION OF TOMORROW. The streets are noisy, but the noise isn’t something that annoys. I can hear little children laughing their lungs out, little kids begging for food yet, happy with a little amount I offered them, and mothers killing the time sharing stories about themselves, about their daily struggles and victories, tapping each other’s arms as they giggle in the middle of their conversations.
In the City I came from, I need to run to get a seat in the public utility vehicle. Here in Davao, I just effortlessly need to wave my hand without running and without fear of having no space in the Jeepney. I can still get a comfortable seat without minding the time or worrying I’d be late.
Here in Davao, we are not perfect. Our Mayor is not perfect. We are not even claiming to be one. Yet, amidst our imperfections, we believe BLESSED IS THE CITY and the PEOPLE who choose to live life beautifully. We are all in the PROCESS OF PERFECTION BY GOD’S WILL.
In Davao, I can sit in the sidewalk drinking soda at night without the fear of holdapers. I can walk from SM Ecoland all the way to my home at Kawayan Drive at 1am. Believe me, I’ve been doing that A LOT, but even once, nobody dared to do me harm. Here in Davao, I can take selfies in the middle of San Pedro street without having a thought na baka may snatcher. I HAVE NEVER FELT THIS SECURE IN A PLACE.
Yes, we do have beggars, name a city na wala? I challenge you. But, us Davaoeños are not afraid to get our hands dirty in helping those in need. We also have TRAFFIC violators. Daghan (a lot), but they are being disciplined well. Dili mana ma perfect no? Haha. (It can’t be perfected tho).
Here sa Davao, the moment I stepped out of our gate all the way to our village kanto every morning padulong ug work (going to work), people are SMILING. Some are even raising their coffee mugs inviting me for breakfast and greeting me “GOOD MORNING, ma’am”! I am just an ordinary kapit-bahay, but all of us respects each other regardless of our status in life.
Davao has changed my life entirely. It made me feel safe and comfortable wherever I go. It made me appreciate life in all angles. This city has changed me. I learned to let go of the fear lurking inside and to trust the people around and have a hope for the city and country because of the kind of governance Mayor Duterte and his constituents have. I am HOPEFUL now.
So, what makes the CITY OF DAVAO LIVABLE, is that, amidst imperfections, people believe that life is good and getting better.
Sorry for this lengthy post, I was just hurt seeing VISITORS judging Davao. Live here and feel the difference. For like 13 years of living in Davao, I am now claiming to be one of Tatay Digong’s daughters. Haha. He is our father. I AM NOW CLAIMING AND PROUDLY TAGGING MYSELF AS DAVAOEÑA! He is our “Human CCTV” securing Davao and soon, the next generation. DAVAO IS STILL THE PLACE TO BE! Nothing will ever make me change my mind.