Booming Davao

In the news recently was the 9.4% gross regional development product (GRDP), which was the highest among all the regions in the country for 2014. Significantly, the current rate is more than 3% higher than the 6.1% it posted in 2013, highlighting the region’s strong economic performance on the backs of stellar growth in the service and industry sectors.

At the heart of all this of course is Davao City and the leadership of Mayor Rody Duterte. Unlike other areas in the Philippines where the local government units do not have a clear idea of how they can best serve the community, Davao City has hit on the perfect formula of focusing on public security and safety, and letting the rest take care of itself. 

By putting much of the city’s resources on reducing criminality and improving public order, Davao City residents are free to pursue their careers, grow their businesses, and increase their investments without fear of being targeted by criminals. This is the Duterte legacy of Davao. And while critics like DOJ Sec. Leila De Lima continue to harp on his supposed human rights violations, there is strong consensus among Davaoeños that the mayor has done a yeoman’s job of keeping the city on track. Which is more than we can say for De Lima’s stint at the DOJ.

With the booming economy, Davao City is now starting to experience the problems faced by all growing metropolis’. Chief among these is the worsening traffic situation, which is not at all helped by the ludicrous speed limits that we have right now. Having to drive at thirty kilometers per hour wouldn’t be so bad if not for the jeepneys that insist on driving fifteen. For Davao drivers, angst is having a wide open road and the possibility of a speed gun on the horizon.  

Another consequence of all these positive economic developments is the rush to construct as many building as possible. Where for years we didn’t even have enough high rises to count with the fingers of one hand, all of a sudden they’re popping up like mushrooms. What seems worrisome though is that a lot of these new buildings are being built in what used to be old riverbeds and swamplands. And given that much of what we now know as downtown used to be part of the coastal plain and/or the riverside, it would really be interesting to see how these structures would stand up to an earthquake.

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Next: Old Davao Neighborhood New Haven for Budget Travelers 

Hey Buddy, Have You Seen My Keys?…

Once upon a time there was a drunk who was searching for his car keys under a street lamp. A policeman comes over and, after being told of the situation, decides to help the guy look for his keys. They search and they search – and find nothing. Finally, the cop asks the man this is really  where he dropped them. The drunk replies, “Nope. It fell over there, but it is so much brighter here.”

The situation sounds absurd when presented as a joke, but the punchline turns tragic when you consider that this is exactly how voters act when they choose the better packaged, and presumably more popular Binay, over the less charismatic, but infinitely more honest , Mar Roxas. What’s worse is that, while we often attribute this voting pattern with the “uneducated” masses, there is a significant number of supposedly enlightened Filipinos who continue to support Binay’s candidacy, not from ignorance, but because they know perfectly well which side of their bread is buttered.

Like the contrast between light and darkness, those hoping to continue the path to reform have aligned themselves against the return to the old, corrupt ways being advocated by Binay.