Ato ni Bay!

The headline story of this paper last week—also posted as a top story in our durianburgdavao Mindanao Newsblog (https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com),  the online version of the Durian Post, has sparked varied reactions.

The headliner was about Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s take on foreign tourists not to be  given ‘special treatment’  during the celebration of the Kadayawan Festival, his city’s .festival of thanksgiving which has become a top tourist-drawer.

The lead paragraphs of the story run:

Even as Davao City drumbeats the Kadayawan Festival as one of the flagship events in its tourism promotion and generation drive, foreigners should not be getting special treatment when they come to see its main highlights.

      Like the rest of the Dabawenyos, they should brave the rain or searing sun to view the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan (Street Dancing) and the Pamulak sa Kadayawan (Floral Float Parade), along the sidewalks without special seats.

      Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has sneezed at a guideline providing for ‘reserved seats’ for foreigners at the stage of the Rizal Park, where the twin events wind up.

      The recently-constructed P1.5 million Rizal Park stage, completed in March in time for the Araw ng Dabaw celebration, serves as the viewing deck for guests and local officials and event organizers.

      Why the special attention for the foreign tourists? I would rather that people from Marilog be on that stage, said Duterte in the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN. Marilog in the city’s boundary with Bukidnon is one of the farthest districts and populated mostly by the indigenous Matigsalog tribe.  The Kadayawan Festival celebrates bountiful harvest and the culture and tradition of the city’s indigenous people.

The Kadayawan Festival is for us, Duterte said.

While most of the several dozen comments in the Comments page of our newsblog praised Duterte for his statement, one strayed out of the line.

He accused Duterte of being a “racist.”

The guy is not a Dabawenyo, we are sure, for his myopic comment without seeing a deeper meaning in Duterte’s statement. He is clueless about who Duterte is, clueless about what he has done for the city during his nearly 20 years as city mayor, clueless about what Davao City was and what it is today and how the city achieved its present status, and clueless about the unity of the Dabawennyos. And clueless about how the Dabawenyos value the early inhabitants of this city.

Set aside the allegedly racist thing about foreigners given no special treatment during the Kadayawan, Duterte’s statement that the festival is “ours” is loaded with meanings. (Ato ni Bay, the title of this piece and also the title of one of Duterte’s television programs, in Bisdak (Bisayang Dako) lingo roughly translates to “this is ours, friend.”

In Duterte’s radar, it is the Dabawenyos themselves who should enjoy with gusto and ease the Kadayawan and not the foreigners who contributed nothing to the growth and development of the city.

If the Kadayawan is a celebration of bounty, it is the Dabawenyos who should revel in it not the outsiders.

Outsiders never figured from the start of the recovery of the city from the bloody and turbulent years of the 80s when it was made as a laboratory for urban warfare by the communist insurgency.

If outsiders come today as investors or tourists, they are welcome like ordinary guests and not given special treatment which should be reserved for the locals, who stayed by their city and their then Mayor Duterte to help their city rise from the ashes of those troubled years.

In the scope of economics, it was the city’s home-grown businessmen who placed their trust and confidence in the city leadership and the tenacity of the Dabawenyos to rise from the rubbles who contributed largely to make their city into what is now a progressive metropolis.

This was  strongly explained, albeit with a different spin, by Duterte when he said that the Dabawenyos especially the tribal Matigsalogs  from the city’s farflung districts deserve a special seat at the Rizal Park stage more than the foreign tourists  in viewing the major events of the Kadayawan.

Duterte a racist for his comments about foreign tourists not being given special treatment? No way. His statement just showed where his heart is.

Special treatment for foreigners, or for that matter, the investors who come to benefit from the city’s present business atmosphere and progress built from the Dabawenyos’ blood, sweat and tears?



PUBLISHED IN THE DURIAN POST NO.75, August 22-28, 2011

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