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Friday, March 6, 2009

New Davao

When we speak of tribes in Davao we often think of the Lumads and the natives who live high above in the mountains; but what my generation does not realize is that this isn’t necessarily the case. No matter where we originally come from, no matter how long we have been settled in this city, and no matter how little we know about each other; my generation now forms the Dabawenyo tribe. We are the new tribe of Davao, a breed of educated, street-smart, and confident people. The yuppies and students that walk the city streets unknowingly form one homogenous tribe; we share the same interests, attitudes and points of view. We may not know it, but we share a lot of common traits which now dictate, not only how the economy of Davao moves, but also how we deal with each other.

Surprisingly, the new breed of Dabawenyos is still much like the past generations of Pinoys. We still eat five times a day (merienda is still a must), we still use “sawsawan” with every meal, and we still invite whoever happens to pass by our tables to join us in eating our favorite “sudan” with a steaming hot cup of white rice (no matter how many times Ms Winfrey tells us to do otherwise). Unlike the Manila crowd, we are less obsessed with eating healthy thus Kwek-kwek, Fish Ball, Balot, frozen strong beer and, much to the horror of Manilenyos, unlimited rice are still favorites among Dabawenyos.

Unlike past generations, however, we have stopped trying to be “sosyal”. We are now content with being ourselves and even put a premium on simple living. Thus, fancy restos are now being snubbed; we appreciate simple Filipino food like Barbeque, Inihaw na Isda and other home-cooked favorites that can compete (in price) with even the most established fast-food chains.

Even bars are now getting shrugged off; partyphiles have gone back to the old Filipino way. It used to be, when you walked the streets at night, you would see a group of men sharing chit-chats over some cold beer in every baranggay, in every kanto, in every sari-sari store. We have gone back to this Filipino tradition of conversing over beer, but unlike the generations of our parents, we now find the right place and time for it: thus, as everyone has probably realized by now, F. Torres is where all the magic happens.

The only exception to the “anti-sosyal” rule, would probably be the coffee shops. We still frequent them even if we know we can get our caffeine fill at home for a much, much, much lower price; because coffee shops are the perfect venue for lazy conversation (and of course, free WiFi). They set the stage for great conversation and somehow, after a trip to your favorite cafĂ©, you feel relaxed. And this is what we are after: stress-relief.

Wellness and relaxation have become the priorities for the new Dabawenyo tribe. We spend money for spa services and massages; we go out partying to forget all the chaos that life brings, and we now enroll in our local gyms to help sweat our stress away. We put a premium on good living and letting our hair down after a hard day at work. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of mischief and misdemeanor.

Older generations often think of us as rowdy or “wild”, but I think my generation is more informed and make wiser decisions. That is not to say that we do not have our share of wild nights, but I’m pretty sure, we have not been doing anything that our parents’ generations haven’t done before. However, the difference is in the way we handle these facts of life. We may be wild (but I am doubtful that we are wilder than any of the generations before us) but this time, we are confident enough to admit that we are. We admit to doing what we do, we are not a generation who tries to seem squeaky-clean; we have gone away with all the “kaplastikan” and we have matured well enough to realize that, although it is not okay to make stupid mistakes, it definitely is okay to own up to them.

Of course, an article could never capture the true essence of the new Dabawenyo tribe but these things I know for sure: we know what we want, we know how to get it, we have mastered the art of remaining under the radar while moving mountains, we are oblivious to the fact that we have great potential, we still love fried food, Hebi and Choc-nut, we have done away with social-climbing, and more importantly, we love and appreciate Davao and all the quirks it brings along with it.