Sunday Essays: Uyanguren: Cultural Hotspot and Bargain Paradise

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

FOR someone who is unfamiliar with the old names of different streets, traveling around the city might be difficult. Take for example Davao’s very own Divisoria, Uyanguren. It is called Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, however, Davaoeños still refer to it as Uyanguren or Chinatown.

Uyanguren intersects with C.M Recto Avenue and J.P Laurel while it also connects with Magsaysay Park. You cannot see any sign in that street that says “Uyanguren Street”, but when you look at the placards in jeepneys, you will see “Uyanguren” paired with “NCCC” or “DCLA”. It’s because that’s how the people remember them. When a person says Magsaysay, they refer to the Magsaysay Park not to Magsaysay Avenue. Uyanguren, even if renamed, will remain Uyanguren to the locals.

The name Uyanguren came from Don Jose Cruz de Uyanguren. He’s a native of Vergara, Guipozcoa in Spain who created a Christian community in what is now called the Bolton Riverside. He was the first governor of Davao City, then called as Nueva Vergara. He defeated Datu Bago who ruled the area.

The grandest arch in Davao city, the Arch of Unity, serves as the entrance of Uyanguren Street. Different stalls and shops line the road as they attract people with their wide selection of products.

NCCC Uyanguren is a mall located in this street that boasts of cheaper products compared to other malls. DCLA Plaza or DCLA Shopping Center is home to a variety of stores. From cell phone repairs to appliances, school supplies to foods, from clothing to accessories, from genuine to pirated products, you name it, they have it.

Aside from large stores, small businesses can also be found in Uyanguren. Ukay-ukay stalls can be seen wherever you look at. The whole street is like a large shopping mall but with more affordable products, hence, the term Davao’s Chinatown.

If you are hungry from all the walking and shopping, street food vendors who offer the local favourites such as isaw, proben, fried chicken skin and local beverages are all around the area. If you want to sit or be around a more refined environment, restaurants are also around.

Not only is Uyanguren the number one destination if you want bargain goods, but it is also the place where different cultures clash.

Filipino - most commonly Maranaos - entrepreneurs sell cultural products.

Some of them are also in the ukay-ukay industry. Aside from the locals, foreigner-owned businesses can also be found. It is a common sight to see Chinese or Korean nationals managing their businesses. Sometimes it is them that you haggle with if you want a discount, not the salesperson.

Uyanguren or Magsaysay Avenue, whichever you prefer, is one of the brightest and most popular places in Davao. It is a home for cheap finds and quality goods. Its name reflects the history of Davao.

It is a trademark of the city. With its active and noisy surrounding, you can’t help but feel energized when you head to Uyanguren. (Precious Z. Domalaon)

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Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class under Gemima Valderrama.

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