TWO-hundred thirty-eight, that was the total number of contingents who were joining the 73rd Araw ng Dabaw civic-military parade.

It was another record number, an unbelievably huge number drowning out past awe on the number of contingents who have been joining past Araw parades.

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Apparently, Davao was responding to a call. A show of unity, a display of force and a quiet declaration of pride.

Dabawenyos and even non-residents may be filled with adulation for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte because of the discipline that is apparent among the city residents, made more known by magazine, television, and newspaper features about the mayor, but yesterday's parade showed the real power behind that image Duterte is now enjoying.

As the mayor had often said, all the accolades the city and its people has been receiving through the past two decades are really accolades for every Dabawenyo because we have made this happen. The 236 contingents in the parade, all those who lined up the streets to witness, and those glued to their television to watch were but a representation of this.

No matter how scathing some misinformed people may have become of the peace we are enjoying here in the city, the real Dabawenyos, both settlers and indigenous peoples, know that we have all come here to enjoy peace and nurture our families. The Moro people of Central Mindanao, clan lords included, the Maranao traders from Lanao, the settlers from Visayan and Luzon, and even the militants and rebels have been celebrating with us for the longest time. And that is because in Davao City, everyone comes in peace and for peace.

Granted that there are sparks of discord and violence as is expected from a city this big, this prosperous, and this diverse, but these are nothing compared to the general quiet and stability, and to many prosperity, that the city has bequeathed to its people and the general atmosphere of amiability and concern shared by everyone.

Attempts to sow discord by those who have selfish agenda should then be thwarted by the people as one. We have made our home here, we have chosen to live in peace with all our neighbors and we have always welcomed those who are fleeing from poverty and conflict in their nativelands, let us not allow selfish interests make us believe and do otherwise. We have built this city as it is now, don't let anyone take that away from us.

"Katatagan ay Kapangyarihan: Pagpapatibay at Pagdiriwang! (Stability is power: An affirmation and celebration)," this year's celebration theme says. And indeed it is in our city's stability matched with our strong conviction that we want our city not only to nurture our families but also all those those who come in peace that has made Davao City what it is today.

A city not only known for its vast resources, but also for the comparatively higher level of concern for the environment and for its people's discipline.

Yesterday's 238-strong contingent of the parade under the scorching El Nino sun was indeed an affirmation and a celebration of this. Onward to the 74th and even the far future... Padayon!