LAST week was crazy. Friends from near and far were leaving and arriving in Davao at a frenetic pace that I was thinking that maybe I should start earning from being a chaperone/tourist guide/security officer/appointments secretary/911/court jester. But the most unsettling was when a friend who is now based in Manila comes home to Davao every year and remarked that: It is difficult to be a taga-Davao in Manila now.
My friend is into corporate communications and events. Though he grew up in Davao, his collegiate years and professional life were in Manila; Kyusi specifically; Diliman to be very precise. Thus, his comment behested long talks along with coffee and of course, wine.
Why was it difficult to be a Dabawenyo among his friends in Manila now? And he said that there is just so much hatred for the brash, cacique-ness of Digong brought about by the EJKs, the unrelenting vitriol in his impromptu speeches, nauseating rape jokes, love for Marcos, the Martial Law in Mindanao, the threat of declaring the same in the whole country, his appointments of people like Mocha, for supporting impunity and so on and so forth. Then he added; I’ve been asked if it’s natural for Bisaya or taga-Davao to be brash. As he went on, I gulped more coffee and no longer sipped it, I began to think, how can I defend the devil?
I wasn’t into arguing that night nor had I the makings of Daniel Webster. We started discussing the rape jokes and sexist innuendoes and he knew that was my soft spot. So I cited the establishment of the Women’s Crisis Center, the creation of the Women’s Code, the IGDD, and even the closed door swimsuit competitions for whatever pageants the city hosts. But we noticed a dissonance when we got to Marcos knowing that Nanay Soling was one of the forerunners of the Yellow Friday Movement that was a portent force in ousting the Marcoses from the country. How can the son offer even the slightest sympathy to the arrogant and equally abusive heirs? More coffee.
Though the most devastating, we agreed that the Marawi crisis was something only Digong can handle as he has dealt with Moros for the longest of time. Suffice to say, unless one has lived in Mindanao for a long time, one cannot even begin to understand the slightest Moro issue. I told him I went to Marawi City, a month or two before the war and even then felt that the city was about to explode and over what, I didn’t know then. My group was always accompanied by Maranao guides as we went around the area researching about Lake Lanao. We couldn’t talk to anybody without a chaperone quickly scuttling to where we were. In fact, I said, moments before dusk we were already confined inside our quarters inside the Governor’s compound and were admonished not to go out ‘to explore the city’ as tourists would in a new place. The talk about Maute sounded like an urban legend that even one of our drivers and chaperones proudly showed us the house where the Mautes lived like one would show Aldevinco to a Davao tourist. I opined that no one dared to touch Marawi so the Mautes flourished until, well, Digong. We asked ourselves how Marawi will be rebuilt and there was loud silence. And more coffee.
He ranted about how innocents were killed by the drug war and I could not help but agree. He cited the Mexican drug war that was started in 2006 by then President Calderon and continued by its current leader, Nieto. Sinaloa drug cartel. Arrest of El Chapo. The death of around 80,000 has made Mexico one of the most dangerous places in the world. I said, Filipinos won’t allow that and he asked: Aren’t we? Around 8,000 have already died. Then we opened the bottle of Pinot Noir. We basked in this luscious, juicy, red wine before it got warm.