Insight & Reflections

Why You Should Visit my Hometown, Davao

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I have been to a lot of places in the Philippines but am always very happy going back home. This is of course a natural thing; “away is good, but home is best”. This old truth applies to me, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Davao has become a safe and clean city and is also known as a secure place when it comes to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons. We are located south of the typhoon belt and many are moving here from all over the Philippines in hope of a more stable life.

Image by Eldar Einarson
Image by Eldar Einarson

This, together with robust economic growth makes Davao a very fast expanding city with both the benefits and problems that entail. We are in many ways a provincial city wearing a little too tight shirt searching for more comfortable ways to dress up, but this also has its charm and challenges.

Thanks to our popular Mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, the crime rate is low and we can walk in the streets at night without fear. His focus is more on our right to live in safe neighborhoods than on the criminals’ need for human rights, and that gives results.

In a more developed society, ordinary citizens don’t have to take the burden of arming themselves and go to war against the criminals. But in our society, this happens. The vigilante groups here call themselves “servants of the people”. The media calls them “death squads”, and as long as they strictly target dangerous criminals, these cases are difficult to solve.

It’s a question about security but at the same time a democratic problem, and a very difficult moral dilemma. I know that I would not have liked to live in the murder capital of my country (which Davao was during the 80s). I hope that our law system will be able to handle justice within the framework of the law. For the moment, it’s probably the silent sympathy for the Death Squads that have made the city safe.

Well, back to why I love Davao. The honesty here is remarkable. Take, for instance, the taxi drivers who will put on the meter automatically without any fuss, and also give you the exact change always. Some years ago, I forgot a very expensive projector in a taxi and I just had to go to their office and get it back. The reward money I offered was not even accepted. And a month ago, I forgot my Smartphone in the toilet of a Mall. I had no backup for all my contacts and was in despair, but I got the phone back shortly after. It was handed over by a customer to a security guard who handled the situation correctly.

Other good things here are cheap foods and the large variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. There are a lot of cheap but nice hotels for 25 USD a night with free internet access. The locations of most of these hotels are walking distances from malls, restaurants, banks, and other important establishments and landmarks. A beer cost 1 USD at decent restaurants, a very nice meal for two for 10 USD, and you can drink water directly from the faucet.

White sand beaches with crystal clear waters are just minutes away and Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines, rises majestically behind the city. The people are warm, accommodating, generous and our city slogan is: “Life is Here”. So why don’t you come and take part in it for a short or longer period? You are very welcome in a safe city with great visions for a prosperous future.

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