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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ledesma: A night of fright reveals a virtue of Digong

THE heavy downpour last June 5 gave a strong signal that rainy season is around. In fact, it did not come gently. The cloudbursts bathed Davao City with an unusually copious volume of rain that rendered many parts of the city impassable to small vehicles and inaccessible to pedestrians.

That rainy Wednesday night would just have been one of those evenings for incoming City Mayor Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte. The come-backing mayor is known to be a night owl. He prowls the city streets hoping to catch his prey of criminals among them drug pushers, snatchers, robbers, and other menace of society. He does this nightly to keep city residents safe no matter what the weather is. Never did he realize that in that evening will be part of an unforgettable episode to a distress young mother which he encountered that rainy eve.

June 5, 2013 to a mother of four is a night to remember. Annelyn Pongase Paunon earlier went shopping at Gaisano Mall for the school needs of her kids. Because she cannot not leave her toddler child, she tucked the baby with her and off they went to the mall. The weather was not as sunny then but there was no indication of a heavy downpour.

Night caught up with them at the mall not realizing that the light rain that come with dusk took a violent turn. When they decided it was time to go home they looked and waited for a taxi. But everyone else was looking for a cab which had become scarce as flood waters in most of the thoroughfares were no longer "navigable."

Annelyn started to be panicky. She had three small children in tow and a baby which she held close to provide warmth. By 11 p.m. there were no cabs in sight. The kids were jittery and Annelyn was as nervous. Tugging the children, she decided to make a dash to San Pedro Hospital hoping some patients might have taken a taxi to get to the hospital. They braved the rain and the rising water. Before they can make it across however, a black D'Max stopped right in front of them. The occupant on the front seat rolled down the tinted window. "Asa man mo?" The man on the front seat asked.

Annely replied: "Sa Skyline pa mi," she replied to the stranger.

The man in the black pick-up then told her in a much louder voice: "Sakay na kay ihatud ta mo sa Skyline."

Annelyn hesitated for a moment. She looked closer to the stranger who offered her the ride and recognizing who was the Good Samaritan she exclaimed: "Ay si Mayor diay!"

Annelyn and her children packed themselves on the back seat. She felt relieved she has a ride to take them home and safe and secured it was no less than incoming Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who will be conducting them all the way to Skyline.

The pick-up inched its way through the flooded street. But at the corner of Guerrero St. traffic was snarled and then went on a standstill. The Mayor and an aid alighted from the vehicle to man the traffic. He knew that it will take time to deal with the traffic jam, he directed his driver to take Annelyn and her kids to the doorsteps of their home at the Skyline and then to just come back for him.

Safe in the comfort of her home, Annelyn started to email friends about her unforgettable experience and encounter with Mayor Duterte. She can only imagine how the mayor was manning the traffic under the rain. She felt guilty she was not able to thank him enough. Then she remembered, she has a friend whose father is a journalist. She wanted to tell the world how caring is the Mayor of Davao City and how he dispenses his own comfort to extend help to the helpless.

This is her story in a capsule as told to my daughter Kristine.
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