September 23, 2022

A Quick Look at the History of Davao City

During conversations about durian, Davao City might come to mind. After all, it is the Philippines’ top producer of the debatably foul-smelling yet tasty fruit. However, surpassing its reputation as “The Durian Capital of the Philippines,” this bustling city has become much more.

Today, Davao City, the regional capital of Southern Mindanao, is a thriving metropolis that rivals the country’s capital Manila. The city is home to industries that have been supporting its people since before it was even considered a city. That said, developments like agriculture, restaurants, universities, and hotels in Davao City didn’t just come out of nowhere. So, to appreciate its history, this article will discuss how humble beginnings can become exceptional developments, as in the case of Davao City.

Spanish, American, and Japanese Occupation
Davao City began as a tiny village at the mouth of Davao River, led by a certain Datu Bago. However, after dying in battle to defend his home, the village was taken over by Spaniards from Vergara, Spain, much like most of the country during this time. Accordingly, the colonizers renamed the village to “Nueva Vergara” in 1848.

Over time, local businesses thrived and more locals converted to Catholicism as Nueva Vergara grew into a larger Spanish colony. However, to assert a sense of ownership during a time when native Filipinos were considered second-rate citizens in their own land, the locals petitioned to name the town “Davao” after their river. Fortunately, this request was granted and remained upheld to this day.

Following the Spaniards’ departure, further development and modernization in Davao took place during the American Colonization in the early twentieth century. Public infrastructures such as roads, communication lines, and schools were established to provide a better quality of life for the occupying Americans and, of course, the local Davaoeños. Agricultural businesses were also industrialized with the mass production of coconut and abaca products. Due to all of these developments, Davao was officially declared a city on March 16, 1936.

However, the arrival of the Japanese colonizers proved detrimental to the socioeconomic progress that the Davaoeños have been enjoying. Davao City was the center of Southern Mindanao with an instrumental American naval base back then. Hence, it became one of the first invasion points of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. Battles in the city and its shores were fought side-by-side by allied American and Davaoeño guerrilla forces until the Japanese left, after which the Philippines received its independence.

Post-War Davao City
Despite the damages brought by the war, Davao City continued to thrive. However, three decades later, the city saw a rise in crime due to social unrest caused by the nationwide Martial Law imposed by Dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. Luckily, crime rates were quelled after Marcos’ ousting when former President Corazon Aquino appointed Rodrigo Duterte as the city’s vice mayor.

Duterte’s subsequent election as city mayor saw a rapid decline in crime despite his controversial methods. His efforts even led to Davao City being considered one of the safest cities in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Ultimately, Duterte’s track record proved popular with Filipinos as he’s the first Davaoeño and Mindanaoan to be elected as the Philippine president in 2016 until the end of his term in 2022.

Davao City Today
Davao City has become a thriving metropolis with more than a million Davaoeños. The locals speak Cebuano as a shared language and take part in mostly the same experiences in everyday life.

The city is the largest in the Philippines in terms of land area and one of the most populous today. Furthermore, Davao City remains the commercial center of Southern Mindanao and is also one of the most significant urban centers of the country, housing most of the region’s lucrative industries.

In terms of agriculture, Davao City’s surrounding farmlands are utilized to grow fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and coconuts. However, its most important crop is durian, which is abundant in the city but is scarce in the rest of the Philippines due to periodical typhoons. Davaoeños also manufacture non-crop products such as wood, cement, and textiles, exporting abaca fiber through its major international seaport.

Nature and tourism are both main attractions in present-day Davao City. Most importantly, it houses the Philippine Eagle Foundation, a non-government organization that's leading the conservation effort of the critically endangered Philippine eagle. Here, visitors can get a glimpse of the eagles’ natural habitat through the in-house simulated rain forest. Additionally, Davao City also rests at the foot of Mount Apo, the Philippines' highest mountain, which is open to hikers and mountaineers seeking to set a new climbing milestone.

Moreover, despite experiencing numerous foreign colonization, Davaoeños gladly celebrate their rich, native culture and history through the Kadayawan Festival. Held on the third August of every year, Kadayawan is the Davaoeños’ thanksgiving for their wealthy lives and well-being while celebrating their roots as lumads, Davao’s indigenous people. Of course, visitors are very welcome to attend and partake in the festivities.

Ultimately, in the face of clashing foreign and local cultures remains a celebration of their history, be it in the form of developing their historical crops or continuing to progress what once was a tiny village beside a river. Amid other Philippine cities rushing to become sprawling urban jungles, Davao City finds a middle ground between urban progress and preserving the heritage that transformed the city into what it is today.

Follow Me:  Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog