When people ask me, “Why Davao?” I always have to restrain myself from raising an eyebrow and giving them my “Are-you-freaking-kidding-me?” look. Because why NOT Davao? What is not to love?
Please excuse the attitude. It is not a superiority complex and we do not mean to offend. You see we Davaoeños truly do not understand that question. It is like a given in a mathematical equation that we no longer try to solve any further. We are just grateful we live here and wonder why there are still people who do not get it.
So I listed the top 10 things I love about Davao City for those who still need to ask why:
It is absolutely typhoon-free. We are blessed with stable weather conditions all year round so any time is always a good time to visit. We are the best city that offers outdoor adventures for all seasons. And if your business or means of livelihood is highly sensitive to extreme weather occurrences, then Davao is the best place for you.
It has the best water in the world. Davao City’s tap water has been tested internationally for quality against all the major bottled waters sold in the market and was declared the best in terms of cleanliness, safety, mineral content, and taste. No need to boil, distill, purify, or add any minerals or flavors, our tap water is already perfect. And no less than the World Health Organization (WHO) has certified it as one of the best in the world.
It has excellent public utilities and infrastructure. Davao City enjoys an abundant and stable supply of water and power 24 hours a day. The Davao City Water District is the number one water utility company among the 50 water utility companies in the entire Asia-Pacific Region and it is the Most Outstanding Water District in the Philippines. Davao Light & Power Company is the third largest and most efficiently run privately owned electric utility company in the country. It is also the first city in the country to have an adaptive traffic signalization system, similar to the system in Los Angeles, California. And plans are underway to make the entire city a wi-fi zone.
It is a very safe city. Davao City has one of the lowest crime rates in the world averaging at 0.8 in every 10,000 persons per month. The Davao City Police Office is consistently chosen as the best police force in the entire country while the Davao City Peace and Order Council has been elevated to the Philippine Hall of Fame for consistently being the best in the country.
It is the most prepared city to respond to an emergency. Davao City is proud to be the only Asian city that has an integrated emergency response system. It is the third in the world, next only the United States and Canada, to have Central 911. You only call one number for all kinds of emergency (medical, fire, police assistance, disasters). But unlike in the United States where you pay for the service, 911 in Davao is absolutely free and entirely subsidized by the city government. The Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council is also recognized as the best prepared in the country.
It adheres to a wholesome and healthy lifestyle for its residents and encourages its visitors to pursue the same. It is always on the top three cleanest and greenest cities in the country, not bad for a city with a total land area of 244,000 hectares with more than 1.5 million people living in 182 barangays. It pioneered the regulation of smoking in public places in the Philippines. It has tough policies against dangerous drugs, violence against women and children (including prostitution and human trafficking), and environmental pollution. It led the ban on aerial spraying of plantations as well as the use of pyrotechnics. It also boasts of one of the most progressive and comprehensive reproductive health programs in the world.
It has a strong and independent local government. The City Government of Davao is admired by other governments not just nationally, but also internationally. It is a trailblazer in local governance, even ahead than the national government in crafting landmark pieces of legislation, pioneering innovative programs, and applying creative solutions to problems never attempted before by others. It is characterized by strong political will, fiercely independent from external control with a pluralist and liberal political climate. Grassroots and civil society participation is significantly high and even revolutionary groups are included in public events and historical celebrations of the city government.
It is a truly cosmopolitan city. Davao City has an international, multicultural, and inclusive worldview. It is home to at least 10 major indigenous tribes, migrant settlers from all over the country, and a growing global expatriate community with different languages and dialects, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and political persuasions. Davao residents live an “indigenized” (as opposed to colonized) lifestyle, which means that it is a culture independent of our diverse backgrounds and colonial past. We become Davaoeños embracing a multicultural and cosmopolitan way of life that is accepting and respectful of everyone’s uniqueness.
It is inclusive, not exclusive. Davao City is open to all, regardless of one’s stature in life. There are no exclusive clubs for the social and economic elite and there are no forbidden ghettos confined to the poor and marginalized. Anybody can go anywhere. There are no special treatments for the rich and powerful and there is zero tolerance for elitism here.
It offers more value for your money. It has the freshest and highest quality of produce in the country being the Food Basket of the Philippines. You get export-quality food at affordable prices on a daily basis. In Davao, the high quality of life does not come at a high price. And for me, that is what it all comes down to.
First appeared on Araw ng Dabaw 2008 Souvenir Program.