DAVAO CITY -- It’s about time the whole Philippines gives a party for Davao. A six-year celebration maybe.
After all, change started here.
It would really be a good time to say -- and do -- something nice for Davao to let our friends here know that we truly appreciate them.
For too long now, we've taken Davao for granted.
Imperial Manila, as most people here say, looks down to this Southern Mindanao island as its little brother who should always follow the lead.
There are already many beautiful nicknames given to this beautiful city: “Crown Jewel of Mindanao”, “Fruit Basket of the Philippines”, “City of Royalties”, “Eco-Adventure Capital of the Philippines”, “Durian Capital”, “Silicon Gulf” and “Little Japan”.
But until a man named Rodrigo Duterte and nicknamed “The Punisher” came along to fire up national imagination and become the country's 16th President, Davao remains just Davao as far as Manilans are concerned.
Under Duterte, Davao is sitting pretty in the South.
With its perfect geographical location and vast natural resources, Davao is widely regarded as one of the best places on earth to live.
And like President Duterte, most of our friends here call it home sweet home and would still prefer to spend the rest of their lives here than anywhere in the Philippines.
If you think you know it very well now, here are some more interesting facts to remind you about Davao other than its well-loved former mayor.
-- Davao is the largest city in the country with a total land area of 2,444 square kilometers.
-- It is the third most populous city in the country with a population of 2.5 million. Only Metro Manila (12.8 million) and Cebu (2.8 million) have more people.
-- It serves as the main trade, commerce, and industry hub of Mindanao regional center of the Davao region.
-- It is home to Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines.
-- Some of the most exciting places to visit are Philippine Eagle Center, an 8.4 hectare area located at the foothills of Mt. Apo; Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, a sacred place in Matina overlooking the city proper; Jack's Ridge in Shrine Hills; Davao Crocodile Park, a world-class crocodile farm in Ma-a; Banana Beach, a four-kilometer stretch of beach in Tagum; Buenavista Island Resort, a four-hectare island resort in Samal; Malagos Garden Resort, a sanctuary of butterflies and exotic birds in Malagos; and Eden Nature Park, a mountain resort 3,000 above feet level.
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Sports in Davao are in good hands, too.
Newly-appointed Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez lives here.
Ramirez, who is also the head of the Davao City Sports Council, was a personal choice of President Duterte to lead the government sports agency all the way up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If the 2016 Rio Olympics produced only the country's third silver medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, the Duterte administration is looking at the first-ever Olympic gold four years for now.
With the full support of Duterte and the new PSC under Ramirez, PBA legend Ramon Fernandez and Agustin, the great Olympic dream may yet come true.
Also certified, true-blue Davawenyos now making thing happen in sports are newly-elected Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) director Glenn Escandor and National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) official James Infiesto.
Escandor was one of the prime movers of the recent “Kadayawan sa Dabaw” Festival 2016 basketball championship in which reigning UAAP champion Far Eastern University won.
Playing under the banner of FEU-Royal Mandaya Hotel-CMO, the Nash Racela-mentored Tamaraws defeated CM Farm of Tagum (Davao) in the winner-take-all final at the Almendras gym.
Last year, Escandor brought PBA legends to Davao for the “Kadayawan” tournament.
Infiesto is a well-known chess player-coach-organizer-arbiter in Davao for as far as one remembers.
A strong player himself, Infiesto is now focusing himself on discovering young and talented players from Davao and Mindanao and turning them into world-class competitors.
“President Duterte believes in our youth. He hopes to discover more young and talented players and turn them into future world-beaters,” said Infiesto. “In Davao, we have many good young players.”
Infiesto will also bring honor to Davao when he was personally chosen by no less than NCFP president Prospero "Butch" Pichay and executive director GM Jayson Gonzales as team captain of the GM Eugene Torre-led Philippine team to the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan next month.
Why, even Special Executive Asst. Ferdinand "Bong" Go is a champion basketball player whose love for sports can make things happen.
Last week, Go scored 56 and 50 points in consecutive games during friendly games with Davao and Manila-based businessmen here.
Indeed Davao is the place to be nowadays even if you're not a genuine sports fan.
Someday, I want to talk to you about Cebu.
NOTES -- Happy birthday to my pamangkin Jude Dominic Andaya-Ypil, who turned another year older yesterday (Aug. 16)...
Congratulations to After Work Sports Bar in Harrison Plaza, Malate on its third year anniversary last Aug. 9. Owned by Joy Codiñera, the place is now one of the favored watering holes for people who love a good ambiance, friendly staff and great music.