Velez: Life is here?


FLOODS. Traffic. Pollution. Garbage. Fire. Dengue.

This is what our city is experiencing now. Last month of August, we experienced all of that.

We had one flood on the night of August 28 that displaced and affected more than 3,500 families, and placed four villages under a state of calamity.

We also had 24 fire incidents as of last count of Davao Today in the first three weeks of August. Most of these fires hit urban poor areas in downtown, gutting hundreds of houses.

Dengue, although a national epidemic, hits Davao City hardest in Region 11, with a total of 2,168 cases from January to July this year. Hospitals in this city can hardly admit all cases of dengue.

Even as our city implements strict rules and schedules in disposing garbage, last week’s flood washed hundreds of plastics, leftovers, and other stuff out in the overflowing river along Ulas.

And traffic, has been something that we Dabawenyos feel so alien about. We haven’t had this traffic before in the past decades. But now, vehicles from trucks to motorcycles crawl on the highways during peak hours in the early morning, noon, and late afternoon and early evenings. It now takes nearly an hour to get from north or south going to downtown or vice-versa. Road repairs make traffic worse. The Generoso Bridge in Bankerohan will be under repair for a week. Drivers and passengers alike would remark, this seems to be like Manila. Somewhere, there is a whisper from the past, like Mar Roxas say, traffic is a sign that there is growth. Perhaps he is talking about our patience.

Before our very eyes, the Davao that we once know, a laid-back city known for cool weather, affordable food, is now an urban jungle in this decade.

High-rises have sprouted all over the place. Old houses, buildings and urban poor communities are torn down to build malls, hotels, condo units, BPO centers, commercial buildings. Coastal roads displace thousands of urban poor homes and fisherfolk. Subdivisions have replaced farms. Roads are wider, but canals are smaller. All these contributed to siltation, and rerouting of floodwaters.

More people are coming for business or for good. Families especially from Manila who have had enough of floods and lack of security find Davao a second home. But now, they see flood and traffic here as well.

We have to ask ourselves, is this “growth” that puts us into a cramp space, or drive the urban poor to be homeless, and the farmers and the Lumad in the periphery landless? Whose change is this for?

Monday’s editorial asks the right question and I repeat it. Does our city’s motto: “Life is Here” still hold true?


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