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Davao City, Philippines

Davao is my home

March 15, 2019 - Friday 10:03 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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I was born and raised in Manila. I studied there from kindergarten to postgraduate school. But I call Davao my home. I am grateful for the years that I was a Manila girl for those years toughened me up. But I am ecstatic over the fact that I am now home.

Davao is my home for a number of reasons:

1. Laid back life. Stress-free living is not a luxury in Davao. It is a lifestyle. I get the best of both urban and rural settings. I can go to the mall and still come out to clean and fresh air. I can spend the day working and still feel relaxed by the time I get home.

2. Traffic. Yes, Davao’s traffic is heavier now, but it is still not as traumatic and, dare I say, as oppressive as the one in EDSA. With the plans of constructing a coastal road spanning the bay area, I have hope that traffic will be better.

3. The People. I get service with a smile wherever I go. Taxi drivers give the exact change. Waiters, guards and bellboys don’t linger waiting for tips and are actually very grateful if you give even just a twenty-peso bill.

4. Clean Air and Green Spaces. There are still lots of trees. Subdivisions and even mall areas are still lined with trees and plants. Although I don’t have a green thumb, I can now have a garden and vegetable patch because the soil is so fertile. There are designated smoking areas and asthmatic people (like my son) would not be exposed to second hand smoke in public places.

5. Food Choices. Whether a meal in a fine dining restaurant or a fresh catch from the market, I get my money’s worth for my body’s health.

6. Government Service. This is one city where I see my taxes working for me and experience the essence of public service. There is professionalism from the smallest barangay hall to the biggest government agency office.

7. Real Estate Opportunities. I would never have dared to own a house and lot until I moved to Davao. For a middle class family, the prospects of owning a property here is more realistic and possible because of good residential locations and reasonable loan and payment schemes.

8. Rest and Recreation. Vacations need not be a long-term goal for Davao residents because resorts are accessible and affordable. If I yearn for the sun and surf, the beaches of Samal Island are just a ferry boat ride away. If I want the challenge of mountain climbing, there’s the majestic Mt. Apo waiting to be conquered. If I want to go on a road trip in pursuit of solitude, the mountain resorts of Buda District would be the ideal destination. There are many more places accessible by road for both family and personal recreation.

9. Learning Opportunities. Davao is a learning hub. It has excellent schools from K-12 to the doctorate level. And for homeschoolers like my children, Davao holds plenty of out-of-the-box learning venues and field trip destinations.

10. Art & Culture. Davao is a city that vibrates with art and breathes out culture. It is a stew pot where Christian, Muslim, and Lumad traditions come together, bringing the uniqueness of their identities into a delightful recipe of peace. I say stew pot, not melting pot, because cultures remain distinct and recognizable even when blended together. Diversity is welcomed because Davao is all about unity in diversity, not uniformity.

I guess the best way to temporarily conclude this list (it’s actually much longer), is to say what Davaoeños say: LIFE IS HERE. My parents have chosen to retire here over a decade ago. My husband and I started our young family here fifteen years ago. Our second child was born in Davao and she now proudly announces, “I am the only true Davaoeña in the family.” Home is where the heart is. It’s cliché but it is true. Davao is my home because this is where my heart is.