NOT very recently, the world discovered Davao City and its brand "Life is here," all thanks to the former mayor. But as most were pleased to see the city rise, others also looked twice each time Dabawenyos proudly raise the tagline.

It is not a problem because I share the same sentiment.

I did not live here until I reached college in 2011 and suffice it to say, like anyone else I wasn’t quite convinced yet of its ways and means. But as I went on riding its jeepneys bearing no signboards, crossing on pedestrian lanes, have been spared from injuries and bloody sights every New Year, I eventually understood why they call it such. Here are four reasons why:

1. Leader’s initiative

The good thing about living in a city with responsible leaders is you are guaranteed that your rights are well protected. There are a number of ordinances that are unique here and they give justice to Dabawenyos who long for a peaceful and healthy living.

First to note is, its long-established No Smoking Ordinance. Enacted in 2002, the public, smokers and non-smokers alike both benefitted from this. Guarded by clear and detailed points, the ordinance is well implemented. Hence, residents as well as the tourists are free to roam anywhere without inhaling cigarette smoke. Though for long-time smokers who have a hard time quitting, the City Government has designated smoking areas.

The next thing is something to watch for. While a ban on liquor is already widely-known, just recently, the city council approved on third and final reading the Sobriety Ordinance. It states, "the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public spaces which includes sidewalks, public parks and playground, among others, is no longer allowed”.

Drinking liquor along the street, on sidewalks, in public parks and playgrounds will soon be punishable, as the Davao City Council approved on third and final reading on March 6 an ordinance prohibiting these. Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta said the ordinance was crafted for safety reasons.

"It is meant to curb harassment on women by drunken neighbors who are drinking within the public road," she said.

Another is ordinance waiting for the mayor’s approval. On January 9, the Half-rice Ordinance was approved for final reading, mandating food establishments to offer not just rice by the cups and platters but also by half-cups. It aims to minimize food wastage especially in the food service industry. The food service industry includes businesses, institutions, and companies responsible for any sale of meals including restaurants, schools, offices, hospitals, cafeterias, catering operations, fast-food chains and other food related services. The ordinance requires the one-half cup option included in the menu priced at half the price of one cup.

2. Wildlife Sanctuary

With its rich biodiversity, the city has been home to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) at the foothills of Mt. Apo in Malagos, Baguio District, in hopes to nurture and care for wildlife.

The PEF primarily operates as a conservation breeding facility for the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and other birds of prey.

The foundation, on the other hand, focuses on rearing the Philippine Eagle not only to recover its dwindling populations but also to protect its forest habitats and ensure the sustainable use of the forests’ bounties for the people.

The PEF supports the global effort and campaigns for the protection of Philippine wildlife -- especially in the Davao Region- that faces extinction threats. These include the Philippine Eagle and other animals highlighted by the exhibit. These animals live in the forest and in urban havens. (Information are taken from the

3. Internationally-acclaimed products

Home-grown Malagos chocolate acquired several acknowledgments abroad competing with chocolate companies in the world.

In 2017, they reaped their third silver for the plain hot chocolate category of the coveted Academy of Chocolate Awards.

This award is the 5th international award of Malagos Chocolate in fine chocolate competition. Previous awards include Academy of Chocolate (Bronze for 2015; Silver for 2016), International Chcolate (Silver for 2015); and Great Taste (2-star awardee).

Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation sales and marketing head Rex Victor Puentespina told SunStar Davao in a phone interview that their company owes the award to the cacao farmers who toiled hard in order to get a good quality of cacao beans fit to be hailed as one of the best Hot Chocolate globally.

The success of the private-sector comes from supportive leaders who also want to see other people’s businesses grow. Here, a good business practice is observed- instead of bringing others down, they build each other up and consider themselves allies.

On top of its famous chocolates, one of the products that is proudly Davao-made is MX3, DMI Medical Supply's best-selling line of products derived from mangosteen.

The products -- which include health supplement capsules and coffee -- offer the health benefits of mangosteen, which is high in xanthone, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

4. Recognizing its people

The city has a habit of acknowledging good deeds of the people whether small or huge.

Yearly, the Davao City Police Office gives what is due to taxi drivers who return left belongings inside their cab to their passengers. They are given recognition and are awarded IDs that they can display inside their cab, so passengers would know upon boarding that they are trustworthy.

Just this year is the Everyday Heroes Awards given out by City Hall to residents who have continuously given their time and effort to do good.

At the bigger scale is the Datu Bago Awards, the city's highest award. The city has made it a long practice to acknowledge notable Dabawenyos who contributed to the growth and development of the city through this recognition.

The awardees are recognized for their outstanding, exemplary and selfless contribution to the growth and development of Davao City and for their invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Dabawenyo culture heritage.

Psychologically, people feel better when their kind gestures are acknowledged, good thing that the city pays tribute to Dabawenyos who display such act. Through these recognition, these acts of kindness are reported to the public in the hope that it will inspire and true enough, it rippled.

5. Harmony amid diversity

Apart from the Araw ng Dabaw, the city also hosts another big event that also made its mark in the country. The Kadayawan Festival, celebrated every August, is a tribute to the people who pioneered the civilization of the growing city.

It honors the 11 tribes of Sama, Kagan, Maranao, Maguindanao, Iranun, Tausug, Klata Bagobo, Obo Manobo, Ata, Matigsalug, and Tagabawa who still continue to embrace their culture and identity.

The City Government also puts a pedestal to the authorities of each tribes as they were given a seat in the City Council to represent their views, demands, and opinions.

The list of reasons why life is here in Davao city can go on but these are just among the major factors that set itself apart from other cities.