SHORTLY after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit in Waterfront Insular Hotel on January this year, the hotel welcomed 54 more from Okinawa for a five-day Friendship Tour.
The tour on July 21 until 25 was a tradition of more than five decades.
Okinawans travel down here at the same time of the year to celebrate their solid companionship with the Dabawenyos.
Philippines and Japan has a shared history that rooted here in Davao City. That's the same reason why until now, a big group of aging Japanese come over to Davao when the Japanese celebrate their Obon, an occasion similar to Filipinos' All Soul's Day.
These Japanese were born to parents or grandparents who came over to work in the abaca fields of Davao City from 1903 up to World War II in 1945.
Thus, Davao became their furusato, or second homeland, and Davao was regarded as Davaoku or a District of Japan, albeit unofficially.
A visit to the Museo Dabawenyo where an old map of Davao City can be seen on the wall will show that the whole of downtown Davao was once dominated by Japanese businesses.
The Okinawa-Davao Group made the premier hotel a part of this long-celebrated tradition. The group chose to stay at Filipino-themed hotel for and ends their week-long tour with a culmination program together with the hotel staff.
July 24th brought quite a number of entertaining performances from Japanese ballads to cultural ensembles to a mix of modern dances.
The best local performers and the beautiful Mutyas of Dabaw were all invited to join the festivities.
Some of the city's favorite performers graced the night to participate in the occasion. Mutya ng Dabaw Reina Kobayashi and her court also joined the night.
Kobayashi who have a Japanese decent also gave her own words of welcome, stressing that it is even safer in the city now, despite the Martial Law.
Much later into the evening, the Waterfront Team prepared a humble rendition of a Japanese song about friendship over time. A mark of appreciation as the both parties bid farewell to each other.
“Let this be but a small gift from us, your Waterfront family, as we bid you Sayonara until we see each other again”, said Bryan Lasala, hotel manager.
Though the tour was short-lived, it was enough for everyone to feel that there is a feeling of home in each of them. Sayonara and see you next year!