Davao City turns 80 today, shows it’s more than Duterte stronghold

DAVAO CITY—For the last three decades, this city has been known as the stronghold of the Duterte clan, which has molded Davao into what it is today.

But Davao City is more than just the “baluarte” of President Rodrigo Duterte, as its history will show.

Exactly 80 years ago, on March 11, 1937, a new city in southern Mindanao was born. Davao City was formally inaugurated at Quezon Park here after Commonwealth Act No. 51, “The Charter of the City of Davao,” was approved on Oct. 16, 1936.

The inauguration was attended by then-Secretary of the Interior, Elpidio Quirino, who would become the country’s sixth president. He presided over the formal proclamation of Davao as a city and administered the oath to its first city mayor, Santiago Artiaga, and the seven members of the first city council.

Santiago Artiaga, Davao’s first city mayor

City historians note that although Davao’s elevation into cityhood was due to the increasing number of foreigners gaining control of its lands, the move to make Davao a city was “more of an indication that Filipinos were capable of running a government of their own.”

The triumph that Davaoeños felt with their newly earned autonomy was manifested through their elation and participation in events initiated by the local government and the private sector.

On inauguration day, residents came out “in their best attire to witness, join and perform their assigned roles” during a three-hour civic parade, news articles on that day noted.

The parade’s route was limited, as Davao only had three major streets then: Uyanguren Street, Claveria Street and Hospital Avenue, which is now J.P. Laurel Avenue, said 89-year-old Librada “Libby” Rufo, one of those who witnessed the parade.

The center of the civic parade was at the oldest street in Davao, San Pedro Street, named after the city’s oldest church along its stretch.

From then till now, the Parada Dabawenyo has been one of the most awaited events of the Foundation Day celebration.

Both private and government groups have joined the parade to showcase various floats that embodied their culture, ideas, or products.

This year’s Parada is different from previous parades, however. The government said it will parade just eight floats, each underscoring the different cultures and traditions that made a big impact on Davao.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte

The city is known to be a melting pot of different cultures, since most Davaoeños are migrants from other parts of the country, especially when the Americans developed large-scale plantations around it that required manpower from as far as Luzon. Foreigners have also made the city their springboard into other areas in Mindanao.

To honor the different cultures and races that made the city what it is today, the Araw ng Davao committee created the “Pasundayag,” a show that presents the different cultures of the city’s migrants. Japanese, Chinese and Indians were among the nationalities that joined the event.

City Tourism Officer Regina Rosa Tecson said it is just right to honor the different nationalities who have influenced Davao, “since through them the city has created a good image in the international community.”

President Rodrigo Duterte

“The Araw ng Davao celebration is about reconnecting with our roots and being proud that we are Dabawenyos,” Tecson said.

This year’s theme is “Stand Tall, United, Resilient,” and is the brainchild of Mayor Sara Duterte.

In a statement, she said the theme “is to remember the atrocities Davaoeños have survived over the past years,” perhaps referring to the bombing of the Davao Night Market last year that killed 14 people.

But through the years, the mayor noted that Davao City “has created an image that each Davaoeṅo can be proud of, and have showed that the city is more than just a hometown of President Duterte.”

Topics: Davao City , Duterte , Mayor Sara Duterte , President Rodrigo Duterte , Santiago Artiaga
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