My hometown was, and remains a peaceful and beautiful town. Back in the good old summer days when I would be seen looking for bugs under rocks, on tall grasses and sometimes even up on our backyard's Jujuba tree; I always admired the lush tropical foliage of our village. I remember the first time my friends and I discovered our village's river that nobody ever told us existed. That was one of the most magical childhood discoveries I've ever made.
The river was quite a long, long way from home though. And my parents would have gone nuts if they'd found out I went there when I was eight. I was indeed a reckless little adventurer who grew up on one of the city's greenest village. We're not quite isolated from the urban sprawl though.
I remember waking up at around 5 in the morning and was surprised when I saw an empty, colourfully woven basket downstairs. Then my grandmother asked me to accompany her to Bankerohan public market. Despite having a repugnant stench and the chopping horrors of butchers slaughtering poor pigs, I found the City's biggest public market the liveliest place I've been to as a child. It was noisy, smelly and dirty but everyone seemed happy doing their work. Morning greetings from the vendors made the entire affair more than worth it though.
After going through series of meat and vegetable buying expedition, our last stop was the heart of the market. It was where all sorts of rice cakes are being sold. Puto, bibingka, kutsinta, palitaw, sapin-sapin, bichu-bichu filled my eyes with radiant joy and color. And my mouth watered as we pass by them. Indeed! Native food is good food and I have to say that the rice cakes sold at the market tastes better than those which are peddled every morning in our street. The comforting warmth of the native hot tsokolate was there too; Accompanied by a brown sugar-coated Puto Maya and some delicious suman for my Grandma. And I couldn't be any happier then.
Later on, I figured out that we're going to the beach. It was a Sunday! And Sundays always starts with good old songs played on the radio. While everyone was busy preparing food, I kept myself busy looking for my swimming gears. NO! I didn't have floaters, swimming caps or goggles. Instead, I brought a water container and some beach toy set I received from 'Christmas' of the other year.
We went to Quako Beach Resort. Perhaps, the most popular public Beach Resort in Davao City. The water was cool and clean back then. And I remember playing inside a cave-like stone house a few meters away from the shore. On the shore I've created kingdoms, dug holes of bottomless depth and buried some shells I considered treasures. But the best thing I ever made out with sand was to bury one of my uncles, with his head sticking out of the sand. Hahaha. And Ahoy! I went out swimming again!
We would usually ride on a jeepney on our way home. A big jeep with small horse decorations in front, along with flaglets waving as we pass by stores, houses and commercial establishments on the city proper. Recently, I rode a jeep whose route began at El Rio Vista. It looked like the same jeep we use to ride on before. I came pass by famous establishments in Davao like the old Victoria Plaza where we go jogging every morning, the tall Land Co building which never fails to make me look up in the sky, the eye-catching murals on Davao Mental Hospital, the Family Circus office at the old Acacia terminal, Freedom Park where some couples date, got reminded of our electric bill the time I saw Davao Light, and then there went Sunday traffic on Rizal, Bolton, CM. Recto streets because the mass has just been offered at the old San Pedro Cathedral.
It may sound a bit odd but we all come to a point in our lives when we get sucked into a sudden moment of realization. A stolen moment of tranquillity, peace and self-reflection. That while the traffic light is in red, you’ll look around as people slowly walk on their desired direction. You hear indistinct chatters from just about everywhere and maybe sirens wailing in distance - then the urban jungle suddenly fades out and you'll realize how you’ve became part of the city. How well you know your hometown and how well you’ve cared of its entirety.
That every little detail of the city comes with epic flashbacks that put you back to a certain time and place in your life. And that’s what makes life in Davao worth living.
That even a 20 minute ride downtown can tell you a story of your life. And no matter how long it’s been, be it during your teenage years, childhood or rebellious senior year (you may even include your past life if you can remember) – LIFE is, was and will always be here. In my hometown, Davao City.
Submitted as an entry to the 75th Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition