(Update 6) Davao holds annual parade for 70th Araw ng Dabaw fest
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 March) – A 128-contingent parade of government, private, and civil society organizations drew throngs of people here as the city celebrated its 70th foundation day, which government officials said was successful and peaceful.
Spectators paid attention to the civic-military parade with historical and cultural themes showing Davao City’s culture and history with diorama presentations of the highlights. Organizers said the parade is meant to flaunt Davao’s colorful history and serves as a showcase of the city’s peace and progress throughout the years.
Among the presentations showed were illustrations on the city’s first establishments, like hospitals, hardware and television station.
Some of the spectators told MindaNews when interviewed they were amazed with the educational and entertainment impact of the presentations.
The presence of politicians and celebrities, too, highlighted the event.
Aside from Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the city councilors, senatorial candidates Joker Arroyo, Ralph Recto, Richard Gomez, and Francis Escudero also showed up, shaking hands with Dabawenyos.
The television networks also brought in celebrities — GMA Network with Richard Gutierrez, Sex Bomb Dancers, and others to perform in a mall, while ABS-CBN with contestants of its reality TV talent show Pinoy Dream Academy to join the parade and a free concert.
Councilor Peter Laviña, who chairs the city council’s committee on trade and commerce, told DXAB radio that even if the city is still young compared to Manila and Cebu, it is already progressive. He then cited more economic programs and reforms for the city to sustain growth, such as the promotion of the “one city 10-product” program.
Councilor Leo Avila’s group also featured five turtles secured in a controlled vessel in another float to raise awareness on environmental conservation, especially in the Davao Gulf area.
Councilor Susan Isabel Reta, chair of the city council’s tourism committee, however, criticized the full-force representation of all the Armed Forces units in the region. She told GMA News the parade looked like it was ready for war because of the contingents from the military and police.
The military featured armors and tactics in its contingents from the Army, Air Force and the Navy. The city’s police, fire and emergency response departments also showed force in the parade as a helicopter hovers above to drop confetti.
Many of the Dabawenyos, however, watched the parade from television sets at home even if police assured that threats to security were taken cared of.
The parade kicked off past 7 a.m. from Magsaysay Park to Rizal Park, ending about noon.
The diplomatic community joined the parade with the Indonesian consulate and Indon students accompanied by a traditional drum and bugle corps.
More than 30 delegates from the island republic of Palau also timed the signing of a sisterhood pact between Davao and Koror, its largest city, during the celebration.
Contingents from the city’s academic community, like the University of Mindanao and University of Southeastern Philippines, joined the parade, their floats featuring their role in the city’s history.
A float from city’s Moro and other indigenous communities also joined the parade.
Clarisee Ann Escala, winner of the Mutya ng Dabaw 2007, led the beauty pageant’s top five winners in another float.
It was cloudy when the parade started, but the sun showed up by 9 a.m. In last year’s parade, heavy rains ruined the party.
Throngs of people, including foreign tourists and school children, started to flood the city’s streets and Rizal Park at 8 a.m. Vendors followed the bandwagon and took advantage of the growing crowd with stuff for sale like bottled water and peanut delights.
Members of the party list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela were also in the streets, with their usual protest placards amid the celebration.
Organizers have warned that the parade and the rest of the highlights of the Araw ng Dabaw 2007 celebration will not be open for politicians to campaign.
Sports events and exhibitions were also held side by side with celebrity mall tours around the city.
Police has assured it has a comprehensive security plan to ensure that the activities are peaceful and orderly. But travelers complained against long queues in the highways approaching Davao as police enforced stricter measures in checkpoints. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)