The Davao of My Youth

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Talomo Beach, Davao City, PH

 

DUTERTE, THE COPYCAT

Just like today, during Marcos’s Martial Law, there was this effing LIST of people to be hunted down for arrest/liquidation, and I was on that list.

I was a campus journalist, and that was my extra-curricular activity, while the others went the fraternity route, and some such organization. The Philippine Constabulary raided our office and Ulysses Yu, our typist, took the brunt. He was manhandled, tortured, and taken to Cebu for detention. He was made to eat banana peels and Colgate, as they were trying to extract “information.” Which was bullshit because we were not NPA’s; journalism was our livelihood; it helped us defray our school expenses. All students were assessed monthly fees for our paper, and we were paid for putting it out.

Because of the heartache, Ulysses’s father died while he was kept incommunicado. During the funeral, Ulysses was there, handcuffed and with bodyguards.

I was warned of my impending arrest and the chief of police advised me to go elsewhere to cool it.

Which explains my Davao sojourn.

Back in 1972, I spent a lot of time in Davao City to escape Marcos’s Martial Law. When I worked in the Consunji Group of Companies in 1979, my turf was Davao City also, inasmuch as the Consunjis have extensive industrial operations there.

My cousins and I would cavort and swim in Talomo Beach, where my uncle, Pablo Remalante, had properties, including a fleet of passenger jeeps plying the Talomo-Bangekerohan route. So I was free to ride to downtown and back, to visit other relatives as well as to scout for work. One time I worked in construction, digging the foundations of houses being built, and it was difficult as hell. I worked with no shirt on and I would suffer sunburns all over.

I never heard of Duterte then. Davao was under a different leader. But then, I did not concern myself with local politics. I just wanted to be safe from the Marcos’s Death Squad (yes, the dreaded police).

I liked the fresh fish of the Talomo fishermen, which was excellent for sinigang (fish broth) and for kinilaw (fish salad). The Dumoy water was tops; it was sweet to the taste. They said it came from Mount Apo.

At the back of uncle’s house were nipa groves, and we would laze it out there, watching the big lizards crawl in and out of their holes.

Other times we would commute to Tugbok to just kill time with our other friends. We would have cook outs and have our fill till our stomachs explode with bugrit (diarrhea). We would also go to Kalinan, a mountainous area but bereft of trees—even the rivers have scant water. The GSIS Village is near Talomo, so we would also hang out there.

When I worked with the Consunjis, I commuted to Davao and stayed at Ecoland. I would have my fill of fresh Jersey milk, which the Group produced—but then the milk was very fatty and I would visit the bathroom more than usual, with the dreaded bugrit, what else.

So don’t say I don’t love Davao. It was once a part of my life.

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