TOROTOT’S blared signaling the New Year. For Davao, a no-firecracker zone, shift back to the traditional merrymaking instrument and has significantly diminished firecracker-related injuries and casualties through the years and extinguishing the count.

The program has become successful that the Davao Local Government Unit and Smart Communications turned it into an annual festival. A great idea, I must admit, as it gathers the citizens together in one venue to celebrate and welcome a clean, healthy, and fun-filled new year.

The 2017 Torotot Festival marked the grandest for the city by far with revelers from all over the city gathering at the People’s Park, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa included.

“I hope the country would follow what we are doing here in Davao. We should be very proud of the example that we are setting and the discipline that we are showing, not only in our country but throughout the whole world” said General Bato.

A few days ago, President Duterte welcomed Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe and his wife Madam Akie to Davao. It was a clear sign of Japan’s intent to strengthen its relationship with the Philippines.

Japan is a blessing to the Philippine Eagle Foundation with PM Abe’s adoption of a Philippine Eagle and naming it Sakura, Japan’s unofficial national flower and a crowd drawer during its season of bloom.

If partaking of the durian (or mongo and biko for breakfast at the host’s humble home, for that matter) of our president is not the ultimate indication, I don’t know what is.

Japan’s head of state bid Davao farewell leaving behind him a seal of partnership on business and development and taking with him fond memories of the Dabawenyos.

Today, Davao is on the second day of the two-day launching of Asean Summit 2017, which the Philippines is hosting. It is also the 50th anniversary of the organization.

President Duterte, while at the Asean host nation of Laos last year, accepted the task to host, and said, “During the Philippines’ chairmanship, we will highlight Asean as a model of regionalism and a global player, with the interest of the people at its core."

“The interest of the people,” I believe that’s exactly what he has done for Davao and what he will be doing for the nation.

In a few days, Davao, along with rest of the Philippine destinations, will be showcased to the world during the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

Tourism wise, this moment will be a great opportunity for the country.

Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo confirmed that Miss Universe 2016, Pia Wurtzbach, will be in town along with the rest of the candidates. The ladies will be touring the city and showcasing the Mindanao fabrics to the world via the “Mindanao Tapestry” fashion show.

Next on the calendar is on arts and culture. On January 23, the Davao Museum and Marco Polo Davao will be hosting a fundraising musical event entitled “Sonata, an evening of classical and Filipino art songs” at the Marco Polo Ballroom.

Sylvia Lorenzana, executive director of the Davao Museum, the concert will feature soprano Stefanie Quintin, and classical guitarist Anton Luis Avila, with the special participation of pianist Martina Audrey Uyboco.

The young artists will serenade the audience with a mix of classical and contemporary music. From Bach’s Fugue BWV 1000 and Schubert’s Ave Maria to Velez’s Sa Kaukiran and Labja’s Usahay, expect a wonderful night of music.

“Through the concert, the Davao Museum aims to raise funds for its upcoming exhibits and programs for its 40thyear,” shared the Davao Museum’s President, Patria Montemayor.

Tickets are available at P1,000.00 for VIP, P500.00 for General Admission, and P150.00 for students. Call (082) 233-1734 or 09395035613.

This is just January for Davao. For sure the coming months, years rather, will be as exciting, if not more, for the city, the region and Mindanao. We deserve all this!

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