Looking around Christmas in Davao, things I observed in the past remain the same:
- A lot of children. It’s a wonder that everywhere, children are ever present: jeepneys I ride, queues I fall into, my birthday party and so on. It’s never bad to have this sight. Hopefully, the needs of these children will be addressed such as education, health and other social needs.
- A lot of “istambay”. The term was derived from the phrase “stand by” or just stay put. Due to lack of opportunities, a lot of people are staying put in the corner letting the day pass unproductively. Some of them would end up having odd jobs such as jeepney dispatcher/barker or trisikad driver. Some of them are content as couch potatoes watching DVDs or singing on videoke day in and day out.
- A faithful crowd. Misa de Gallo starts at 4:30am but we had to be in the church an hour earlier because the crowd will fill all seats by half past 3. As the Mass starts, the church overflows that late comers bring their own chairs.
- A happy people. Lumad folks travel to Davao City to ask for little help from the lowlanders. While in the past the reception was cold and hostile, now it has improved thanks to the inspiration brought by the city mayor who goes from one extreme end to the other to portray a real father of Davao City.
- A great place to celebrate Christmas. No firecracker noise means no gory scenes of broken fingers, crying victims of negligence or poor pyrotechnic quality. Here, Christmas is celebrated and not Chinese New Year.