Despite studying in Davao for 5 years, I have never met the Mayor in person. When I knew there was a Grand Rally, I only thought it would be filled with Davaoeños, considering the day was also a holiday in celebration of the 79th Araw ng Davao City.
Earlier yesterday, I saw photos from the parade. What stood out to me were photos of indigenous peoples, the SWAT, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the police officers, and the Moro National Liberation Front. And I thought of how significant each was in contributing not only to Davao City’s history, but also to Mindanao’s. I am reminded of Mindanao’s richness not only of resources, but also of a diversity of cultures.
It has become a habit of mine to walk home from school as late as 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. I thought the day was usual with Davao City normally safe. The day was different also, of course, with the Araw ng Davao’s festivity and different celebrations of its people. As I walked towards the Freedom Park, I met many families eagerly waiting for other family members. Parents were giving their 2-4 year old children a piggyback ride to see the stage. To see the Mayor.
I stood the whole time. I only felt warmth talking to someone who traveled as early as 9:00 a.m. from Cotabato City to attend the event because they believe in what Mayor can do for the country.
While Senator Alan Peter Cayetano was telling the audience how he knows Davaoeños want Mayor to stay in Davao, he says, ‘Mag-share naman kayo’. We erupt in laughter, but I wonder if I was the only one already teary-eyed. He says he is who the Philippines needs and I think of how the Filipino people need him in so many ways. What caught my attention most was the Philippine flag enthusiastically waved by a man standing beside a statue with children on both his sides. A young lumad who gave a short speech encouraged the people to help them elect Mayor Duterte as President who she says is their only hope. “… tabangi kami sa pagkab-ot sa amung mga damgo (Help us reach our dreams),” she asks.
Perhaps I will always remember the silhouette of a man standing on a small truck with his companions to have a clear sight of Mayor. He was raising both his clenched fists as people were starting to light their candles while singing nationalistic songs. The lit candles only made the night more emotional as I noticed a set of 6-8 red and blue balloons set free by someone from the audience. It got caught on a wire and it stayed there until the last lines of “Bayan Ko” were sung. “Aking adhika, makita kang sakdal laya”, and the balloons, blown by the wind, freely soar to the sky. At that time, I observed, many were already raising their fists. Those, I will never forget.
I have never felt such a strong nationalistic spirit around me. I think of those who doubt what Mayor can do from different parts of the country. And it makes me sad. It makes me sad because they only don’t believe in a kind of leadership they haven’t experienced.
Today, I read from Manny Piñol’s post:
“Last night, Muslims, Tribal Groups and Christians representing the island’s tri-people gathered as one to show their support for the man who promises to end the conflict in Mindanao.
It is safe to say that the NPAs, the MNLF and the MILF cadres were also present.”
I don’t know if uniting people from all walks of life is something other candidates can also do from a broken and divided nation. However, this kind of respect that a leader can freely get just by being himself is something they can learn a lot from.