The entire Araw ng Dabaw celebration peaked with Friday morning’s civic parade, the biggest so far in the entire charter celebration. It showcased 284 floats from different contingents.
By PAUL RANDY P. GUMANAO
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Edgar rang the bell several times while the street dancers arranged themselves by contingent along Roxas Avenue. It was barely 10 minutes before the Sayawan sa Da’n (street dance) 2012 was to start. Everyone was seemingly sweating as they wait for that final bell, an indication for the competition to commence. It was not Edgar’s bell everyone was waiting, yet a number of people crowded around him to seek refuge against the scorching heat one Thursday afternoon.
For Edgar, 29, an ice cream vendor for three years, special occasions like the Araw ng Dabaw means more fun, and of course, more earnings even for just a few days.
“The timing is perfect for my business because it’s already the hot season. People usually buy ice cream. If there’s no occasion, my daily earnings will not even reach (PHP) 500. But if there are occasions such as this, I will earn almost a thousand (pesos) in a day,” a beaming Edgar shared in vernacular.
Like any ambulant vendors, this is Edgar’s way of celebrating the Araw ng Dabaw, now in its 75th or diamond year.
Davao City was declared a chartered city in 1937. Through the years, it gained accolades not just within the country, but from Asia and around the world as well. It has earned the country’s recognition as the most livable city and the most child-friendly city. It is considered as one of Asia’s top cities and one of the world’s top 100 fastest growing cities. It also crafted separately the first set of local laws for women and children in the country in the 1990s.
Dabawenyos boast of the city as it is blessed with natural resources and cultural diversity. Davao City is currently the only city in the country where the local government totally bans mining.
Davao City has made its mark in politics. Last year, it was in the headlines when Mayor Sara Duterte punched a sheriff as demolitions of urban poor settlers here came to a worse. It is the only local government currently run by a political dynasty of a daughter-mayor and a father-vice mayor, former mayor Rodrigo Duterte, whose ideas do not always jive. Take for instance their rift when Sara Duterte opposed the coal-fired power plant being peddled by her father Rodrigo. And just recently, Rodrigo Duterte opposed the 30-day gun ban ordered by his daughter Sara as a security measure for this year’s Araw ng Dabaw. Under the Duterte leadership, the city has been under fire as summary killings of mostly minors remain unresolved. The notorious Davao Death Squad of which the series of killings was attributed, is highly-perceived as a Duterte brainchild.
Davao City resembles the rainbow, where different colors — socio-political or racial colors — coexist. This is what Popong Landero tells us in his song Bahaghari Tayo, the official theme song of the Araw ng Dabaw. Landero is one of the country’s most respected artists and a city’s pride.
The Bahaghari Tayo song was the music to which street dancers based their rhythms and choreography in the Sayawan sa Da’n street exhibitions. Contingents appeared vibrant as they cheer and execute their presentation with colorful costumes and props. But the contingent from one of the largest public schools here, the Sta. Ana National High School (SANHS) contingent stood out among the rest. They were chosen as the competition’s champion and took home the PHP 50,000 (USD ) prize. The Quezon Elementary School and Bolton Elementary School placed second and third, bagging the PHP 30,000 (USD ) and PHP 10,000 (USD ) prizes, respectively.
“We showed in our performance that it is more fun in Davao,” Mary Ann dela Serna, coordinator of SANHS contingent, said. “We did not highlight a particular advocacy in our performance. All we want is to promote Davao as a livable city. Everything is there already,” she added.
The entire Araw ng Dabaw celebration peaked with Friday morning’s civic parade, the biggest so far in the entire charter celebration. It showcased 284 floats from different contingents. It was attended by local and national politicians including Bayan Muna partylist Representative Teddy Casiño, government and non-government organizations like the Alliance of Concerned Teachers partylist, the differently-abled, motorcycle and horse-back riding enthusiasts, among others. Local celebrities and the top five Mutya ng Dabaw, headed by the crowned Mutya Marianne Mae Te, also graced the event.
The whole stretch of Roxas Avenue to Claro M. Recto and San Pedro streets were filled with people of all ages and colors as early as seven in the morning until late in the afternoon. There were scenes of fathers carrying children on their shoulders, grandchildren ushering their grandmothers, street sweepers raking every piece of trash in sight, and behind them, food-munching kids who later throw more trashes.
While everyone was busy catching a view of the parade, several other Dabawenyos were on the sidelines: an old beggar playing his harmonica for a few coins and street children begging for food, among others. Ambulant vendors like ice cream man Edgar took the occasion to earn more while tourists and photography enthusiasts flashed their cameras to record the event.
Because Dabawenyos never ran out of advocacies, one of the highlights of the Araw ng Dabaw was to recognize individuals who have excelled in various causes through the Datu Bago Awards, the city’s highest recognition of exemplary Dabawenyos.
This year, Datu Bago Awards is a show of women power as the awardees are all women: educators Enrica Ongchua Babao and Dulce Saavedra, and entrepreneur Linda Coronel Tesoro.
Datu Bago was a critical figure in Davao history. Up until the 1840s, Davao Gulf remained free of Spanish control as local chieftains, headed by Datu Bago, remained fierce in opposing the Spaniards.
Despite the Araw ng Dabaw festivities, Davao City has not changed its essence as a junction of different faces and colors of life. Just like a rainbow. (Paul Randy P. Gumanao/davaotoday.com)World