Wednesday, March 16, 2005

araw ng dabaw

today is the official holiday, when the "disputed" biggest city in the world celebrates its 68th ARAW. disputed because, there's word going around that puerto princessa has recently claimed the title. anyways.

the non-conformist in me however, chose to celebrate the holiday last weekend. (the why am i writing just now is, well another story..)

it started last saturday. i went with ben and some of the assisi staff to sitio contract, datu salumay in marilog district. it is a two hour chambie drive up to the cooler parts of the city. the part where there are pine trees, strawberries and a whole lot of fog. reminds me so much of baguio. well there is a baguio district in davao, but it is not as cold as in marilog.

we arrived around 8.30am at the salumay crossing. ben hurriedly got a habal-habal to take us inside. and after 20 harrowing minutes of rough terrain, we made it to sitio contract to attend the graduation of the literacy program in the said sitio.

one poignant moment that struck me the whole morning was when one of the kids, i think mary ann was her name stood up to say her thanks. she was wearing her native costume like every other kid in the lit program and some of the women (their moms i suppose). and if i can still quote her, she was saying:

"salamat po kasi kung hindi po dahil sa inyo, hindi ko po mararamdaman kung paano magtapos."

i have to bite my lip a bit to pull me away from an emotional outburst.

and this remark does not only apply to the kids but to the proud parents of some of the "arang-arang" kids as well who went up the stage to pin ribbons of awards to their kids.

that is why, davao is so dear to me because it comes to symbolize the new things that happened to my life. it is the breath of fresh air that utterly changed the direction that, i think, would be taking me to my death bed.

in the evening, its urbandub night with ninin, jerber and tatit! whooooh, i never had such a great time from a gimick for so long. well you know, living in davao is also a sacrifice to the musicality of bands that i used to enjoy in manila. albeit, it is only a minor thing about my decision to stay in davao for GOOD (thanks balikbayan for passing on that thought), i still miss it one way or another.

even if we had to get our booze from yam yam's despidada party because we cannot fit inside the orange groove hotel anymore; even if the only band we watched is, well urbandub, i still consider it great. (thanks to tatit's friend philip who literally pulled the ropes to get us in, even for the last four songs of the night).

and that is another thing that makes davao special for me, it clarifies choices. it lays down the facts and choices on the table. nothing to hide, just a raw, sometimes biting take on things that would allow me to choose the best thing for me. in the almost three years that i have been here, i have never felt that davao kept anything from me. from the first minute i said that i am going to get a life here, it has always been honest.


next morning, it was the epol waterfalls. in about 24 hours, i am back in marilog district to treck down from the high way to see the epol waterfalls. together with most of batch 25 vols, with volks, and his companion, meh, nin and jerber, i donned my hiking gear and tried to reminisce my mountaineer days.

it was nice feeling the fresh air. the exhilirating greeness of the vegetation, the music of the water as it races against the rocks of the river, made it such an interesting climb (down). i wore my trusted tribo sandals and went down through the red clayish soil. i passed the undergrowth and felt the cold air caress my face. i felt the water embrace my legs as we waded and jumped over the river stones. i was also saddened because of the destruction that kaingeros has brought upon the hillside. i would have taken more pictures, had not from the sooty black terrain that uglified the river treck.

there were waterfalls and the long way back home. we took the longer, more difficult yet more scenic route home. the kind that fills the eyes with wonder and tests the patience as we trudged over one clearing over another. it was almost 6p, almost dark when i reached the highway, almost three kilometers from our jump off point.

i raised my hands, like the way oblation would have done it. it is as if i have surrendered to the victory of finishing the trek.

yet another face of davao. for me it is hard work that brought me here. it would also be hard work that would keep me here. and for a once city dweller like me, the hard work has always been reinforced with the blessings that has come my way. the decision to stay, has been rewarded a hundred fold. the good things that davao has given me, endears it to me more and more each and every day i come home to it.

and i would never want it anyway else.

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