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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Davao


Alright, alright, I know what you are thinking. The last word does not really belong in that particular line up. But if you really think about it, maybe it does, doesn’t it?

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 you, and the rest of the people who belong in our generation, do not realize is that this isn’t necessarily the case. No matter where you originally come from, no matter how long you have been settled in this city, and no matter how little you know about your other Davaoeño brothers and sisters; you are now part of the New Davaoeño tribe.

Yup, you may not be consciously aware of it but you are now part of 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.

Unlimited Rice, Pito-Baynte and Eating Hearty

Surprisingly (or not), the new breed of Davaoeños is still much like the past generations of Pinoys. We still eat five times a day; merienda is still a must, and Banana-Cue, Pito-Baynte (7 for 20 pesos) Barbeque and Tulo-Diyes (3 for 10 pesos) Siomai are still staples of the dining table, or at least the side walk right outside school gates.

We still use sawsawan with every meal, thus explaining the abundance of toyo (soy sauce), suka (vinegar), calamansi (native lemon), sili (chili), patis (fish sauce), ketchup and pinakurat (well. there’s no translation. You will just have to try this one yourself) in all Davaoeño restaurants. We still invite whoever happens to pass by our dining tables to join us in eating with a loud “mangaon ‘ta!”. And we still enjoy eating our favorite sud-an (viand) with a steaming hot cup of rice, no matter how many times Ms. Winfrey tells us to do otherwise.

My humble opinion: Unless she has tried eating hot, freshly cooked Bulad (dried fish) dipped in vinegar, chili and paired with fresh tomatoes, served over some steaming white rice… she can’t tell us Davaoeños to quit rice altogether.

What’s more, 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.

And this is actually good for us: we still get to enjoy our food, no matter how embarrassingly cheap they are; and we don’t even need to feel guilty about stuffing our hearts with all the cholesterol it can take (seriously, now is a good time to bring in the Sisig, Bulalong Kalabaw and Crispy Pata)

Anti-Sosyal, Passing Gas and the Magic F. Torres Brings.

Unlike past generations, 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; 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. And we just might have gone back to this very Noypi 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.

And, unlike generations before us, we are never embarrassed to admit that we don’t have money, that our feet smell or that we just let out a silent but deadly fart. Trust me, we have become anything but sosyal.

Free WiFi, Chillaxing and Gym Buddies

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 fix 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 conversations and somehow, after a trip to your favorite café, 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, and no, I don’t mean the local manghihilot. We go out partying to forget all the chaos that life brings (yes, Mom and Dad, the only reason why we go out on gimmicks is to relieve stress) and kiss our worries goodbye. And we now enroll in our local gyms to help sweat our stress away (aside from the fact that it is also a great way to find new friends. Gym buddy, anyone?). 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.

Informed Wild Children, Not-So-Squeaky-Clean Images, and Owning up to Mistakes

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.

Things I Know For Sure

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 and 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; farting is not that big a sin as it used to be; and more importantly, we love and appreciate Davao and all the
quirks it brings along with it.