|Photo credit: Spot.ph|
Moving to Metro Manila three years ago was the toughest decision I made in my life. What choice did I have? It was the only way that I could achieve my lifelong dream of becoming an air traffic controller. It is not new to me when I get various reactions from people when they learn that I am from Davao. Some were curious on how we celebrate Christmas and New Year without fireworks, or how we party at night even if we have a citywide liquor ban at 1AM. Most of them however were curious about our mayor.
For more than twenty years of living in Davao, I have witnessed how my hometown grew and progressed - from a sleepy, lackluster town filled with unwanted elements to a bustling metropolis with investments pouring from both public and private sectors. It is no question on why Davao rose to one of the best performing cities in the country as it had reaped numerous awards both here and abroad.
Duterte became a household name, all thanks to the exposure made by the media, and his recent tirades with CHR Etta Rosales and DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. I have voted for him twice and it hadn't gone to waste. Thus, I have the right to at least defend him from all those bandwagon critics. Simply put, they know nothing.
Duterte isn't new to politics. He was elected as the mayor of Davao City from 1988 to 1998. Since the constitution doesn't allow him to run for the fourth consecutive term, he ran for the House of Representative and won a seat at the first congressional district of Davao. He ran again for mayor in 2001 and was reelected in 2004 and in 2007. In 2011, he became the city's Vice Mayor, succeeding his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was elected as Mayor.
During his time, he had signed numerous city ordinances:
i) 1am liquor ban - party animals in Manila or in Cebu will never like Davao. Why? Last order of alcoholic drinks is at midnight. Through the help of the mayor, the city council amended the ordinance no. 1627, series of 1994 which states that drinking, selling, serving, and consumption of liquors and alcoholic beverages is strictly prohibited from 1am to 8am. So how do we cope with this city ordinance? We party at an earlier time and when the clock strikes twelve, we continue the party in our houses or we go to coffee shops or pizza parlors.
|Photo by Rudolph Alama|
But hey, we Davaoeños still know how to party. See also: the EDM parties.
ii) anti-smoking - nicotine-dependent people will die peacefully in Davao. The anti-smoking ordinance was first implemented in 2002. Smoking is strictly prohibited in public areas. It got more stringent in 2012 when then-Mayor Sara Duterte signed the new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance and this includes the total ban of shishas and e-cigarettes in all public places. Violating this rule will cost you a fortune. No, not the Fortune cigarette brand.
iii) total firecracker ban - in 2001, the local government officials had implemented an ordinance which prohibits selling, manufacturing, and use of any forms of fireworks/pyrotechnics. Even sparklers weren't spared! Since then, Christmas and New Year in Davao has never been that peaceful and clean. While firecrackers add festivity and wards off bad spirits (thank you China for bringing this belief to our country, really) in Christmas and New Year, it is also the reason why some people spend their holidays on hospitals. And just like that, by the dawn of the new year, some might only have 7 fingers or less brought about by pyrotechnic-related accidents. In Davao, we find ways to celebrate the holiday season in a jubilant manner - we sing our hearts out in karaoke on max volume, we honk our cars for several minutes, or we gather at downtown and be part of the annual Davao Torotot Festival. Non-Davao residents may find it boring, but I'd rather celebrate the holiday this way. I won't take risks of losing a finger or a two. Or die due to asphyxia.
|Davao Torotot Festival. Photo by Jeff Pioquinto, SJ|
iv) the speed is the limit - in the interest of public safety, the mayor had signed the Executive Order No. 39, setting speed limits within the jurisdiction of the city - 60kph for national highways, 40kph in suburbs, and 30kph in the downtown area. And with that, road accidents in the city had decreased dramatically. Abusive drivers have no place in Davao. A few days ago, Alma Moreno and her driver were both caught by the police due to speeding. They were driving 42kph on a 30kph zone. Even the former Mayor Sara Duterte was caught by traffic enforcers along Quimpo Boulevard, near SM Ecoland because she was driving at 50kph on a 40kph zone.
v) when I say hi, you say pon - Ramon Bautista does ring a bell to everyone, especially on what he did last year during the 29th Kadayawan Festival. The internet celebrity was on hot waters because of his 'hipon' joke. For those didn't know the context, hipon or shrimp is a colloquial term used for a person who has a beautiful body but has an ugly face. When you eat a shrimp, you eat its body and throw its head. Later, the city government declared him as persona non grata. A lot of his colleagues in the showbiz industry as well as some anonymous keyboard warriors reacted on how sensitive Davaoeños were and how we can't take jokes seriously. Butthurt, they say. For those who didn't know, Davao has an Anti Discrimination Ordinance. The ordinance states that it strictly (and vehemently) forbids any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Props to the local government of Davao for doing what was right and just.
I wouldn't just give credit to Mayor Digong, but also to the entire local government of Davao for drafting numerous city ordinances that made my hometown several pedestals higher than other cities in the Philippines and also to the locals who are willing to religiously follow the law. In fact, ever since I became a registered voter, I voted for him twice during the 2010 and the 2013 elections. Outsiders were quick to judge that we are afraid of Duterte. He may have a straight-forward and a no-nonsense demeanor on media but in reality, he's the opposite. At night, he drives a taxi just to make sure that his constituents are safe (and lucky passengers who hail Digong's taxi will have a free ride to their destination).
|Davao City at night. Photo by Jeff Te|
Davao City is his success story. Without him, Davao wouldn't be as progressive and peaceful as what it is today. It was recently awarded as the 9th most peaceful cities in the world by Numbeo.com. The water quality of the city is ranked as the second most potable water in the world, following New Zealand. And did I mention that we're the third city in the world that has a central 911 emergency system, the same in USA and Canada?
It is still unclear whether if he'll run for president this 2016 national elections or not. But if majority of the outsiders do not like him just because of what they've read or seen on TV, then SO BE IT. I am tired of reading rants about how hopeless Philippines is. If you want to experience the 'ideal' Philippines, then visit my hometown. It is a place where peace, order, and progress coexist.
Welcome to Davao, a city where no one is above the law.
Life is truly here in Davao.