In celebrating the 82nd year of its cityhood, Davao City marks another year of progress and development. From a simple village composed of various organized barangays a few hundred years ago, the city of Davao has become one of the country’s most important cities, a hub of trade and industry, commerce, cultural diversity, and education.

The city came to be known as Nueva Vergara when Don Jose Cruz de Uyanguren, a Spanish native of Vergara, Guipuzcoa, together with other 70 men and women, first colonized the region on June 29, 1848. When the Philippine Revolution came about, two Davaoeño locals named Pedro Layog and Jose M. Lerma represented the town and the region at the Malolos Congress of 1898, affixing Davao’s place in national history as a part of the nascent First Philippine Republic.

Rapid economic development followed the American occupation of the region, as foreign businessmen began tapping into the region’s fertile lands to fuel agricultural development. Coconut and banana product plantations changed Davao City from a small and sparsely-inhabited town into a thriving economic center. The demand for Davao’s agricultural products was so great that it led to the construction of the Port of Davao soon after.

The change was so apparent that on March 16, 1936, then congressman Romualdo Quimpo from Davao filed Bill 609 (passed as Commonwealth Act 51), creating the City of Davao from the town of Davao and the municipal district of Guianga. Davao was inaugurated as a charter city on Oct. 16, 1936 by then President Manuel L. Quezon, and the charter came into effect on March 1, 1937, making Davao City one of the first towns in Mindanao to be converted into a city.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Opening the month-long celebration of this founding, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio formally launched the ceremony, “Pasiugdang nga Pagsaulog”, at the Rizal Park last March 2. Davaoeños saw the introduction of the official finalists of the annual Mutya ng Davao event, as well as the launch of two new pageants: Ginoong Davao and Reyna Davaoeña. The top talents of the region, which include groups like Voices of the South Children’s Choir; DSquared Cru; EMNT; Groove Unlimited; and Fusion, also performed singing and dancing numbers to kick off the celebrations.

Various activities are lined up for the month, as the city expects an influx of local and foreign tourists to join the festivities. The anniversary of the city’s charter inauguration tomorrow, March 16, will be highlighted by the annual civil military parade Parada Davaoeño. Meanwhile, schools all over the city are launching the ‘Davaoeño Ako’ storytelling initiative along with the food and entertainment-filled event at Kalingawan sa Sta. Ana at the Sta. Ana Pier.

The best of Davaoeña beauty will be recognized at the Mutya ng Davao coronation at the Rizal Memorial Colleges (RMC) Petro Gazz Arena while the Pasundayag sa Rizal Park was open to the public last March 3, 9 and 10.

Ginoong Davao, the pageant which aims to find the next Mr. Davaoeño, was held last March 3, at Almendras Gym Davao City Recreation Center — marking the first time the event was included in the annual celebration. Reyna Davaoeña, which is searching for Davao City’s first Trans Davaoeña, was also held last March 8 at People’s Park to be followed by the Hudyaka the following day. Davaoeña women were celebrated at the Women Summit last March 6 at Ritz Hotel, and International Women’s Day Parade last March 8 from Freedom Park to People’s Park.

Showcasing the competitive side of Davao City, some of the country’s best triathletes competed for honors in the 2019 Araw ng Davao Supertrikids and Novice Triathlon last March 2 and 3 at Villa Josefina Resort Village in Dumoy, Toril.

Twenty-nine events are also lined up for the month-long Araw ng Davao Sports Festival 2019. The second Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao is also set on March 24 with Mexican Mauricio Mendez and Czech Radka Kahlefeldt defending their titles as champions against representatives from 38 participating countries including the Philippines.

The 49th Conferment of the prestigious Datu Bago Awards was held on March 8 at the Arcadia Gym, honoring the outstanding, exemplary and selfless individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of Davao City and the preservation of its culture heritage.

Other events include the Araw ng Davao Light Show, a 3D light show held at Davao City Hall; Pahalipay sa mga Distrito in 12 sub-districts; Davao Quiz Competition at the Davao City Library; Pasidungog: and Garbo sa Davao at The Enderun Tent, Azuela Cove. Government employees will have their day on the Araw ng mga Empleyado celebration at Rizal Park.

Davao City will also hold its second International Marathon at People’s Park; Sayaw Pinoy event at SM City Davao; Kanta Dabawenyo; Sister City/Consular Offices Exhibit at SM Lanang Atrium; TDR 80 Ultra Marathon at Magsaysay Park-Eden Nature Park; and Agribiz Expo at Gaisano Mall of Davao atrium. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran