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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BACK in the 60s and 70s, when you took a flight out of Davao, chances are you would know at least a dozen or more people. There were not so many people in Davao before and indeed this city was a small place literally and figuratively. Not anymore. Today when you take a flight, you would be lucky to know at least half a dozen. Today, Dabawenyos are much harder to recognize. But hold that thought. Perhaps not. Perhaps if we cannot recognize them by faces, we can identify them through other means. Like what?

Well, the way we talk. Dabawenyos indeed have a certain way in which we talk. I really cannot explain it but tutoo lagi yan. Our Tagalog is iba man. And our Visayan is distinct uy. Our language unmasks us. But there are other ways aside from language.

Imagine driving in the NLEX or SLEX. The first thing that you notice when you are traversing those roads is the vehicles are fast. They whoosh and swoosh their way. They are a blur. And then you notice a vehicle. It is slow compared to the others. And then you say, ah taga Davao na sya kay nag observe sa 30 kph per hour. And if by chance you are also driving you sneak up the lane and drive side by side at the same 30kph per hour. You smile at him/her and he/she smiles at you. And you say to each other ah taga Davao ka noh? And while you are driving, the rest of the world passes you by because those Luzon drivers have no speed limit.


And so while everyone is laughing and cursing you at the NLEX or SLEX you finally reach a rest area where there are shops, restaurants and other amenities. Somehow you both end up eating in the same place. When you enter the place, you are aghast, stupefied, shocked, stunned, dazed, shaken and traumatized by the number of people smoking inside the place.

Davao after all is smoke free while here it is smoke filled. So you decide to eat somewhere else but it is all the same. People puffing away. So you decide again to eat in the outdoors where the air is free from cigarette smoke. After eating you go back to your respective vehicles, check for gas, check for oil and rev your engines and then speed, I mean drive at 30 kph.

Finally you reach your destination. You turn right or left and you see a carabao overtake you. The carabao gives you a look as of it says, ano ba problema moooooo. You see a traffic light and you want to beat the sign so you step on the gas pedal and push the car to its limit of 30 kph. And when you beat the light, you pump your fists and say, oh yeah life is here, este life is there pala. Meanwhile the carabao overtakes you again. And you swear you can hear it say, ang bagal mooooooooooo.

Suddenly you hear an explosion and you dive to the floor thinking it as a grenade or a bomb and then you stand and everyone is smiling or laughing at you. Even the carabao is laughing. You ask, ano yun na nag buto? Walang buto dito pare, no bones. So you ask again, ano man yung nagputok? It gets worse. Finally you say, what exploded? Ahhh, one of them says, ang pumutok ay firecracker. You say, ano yan sya? Again they all laugh. The carabao merely shakes his head. Hindi mo alam kung ano paputok? And you say no. Asan ka ba galing, they ask.

One of them invites you to dinner and you oblige. Then they ask you to join them in karaoke and because you like singing you join them. They start drinking but you do not drink and do not smoke, so you stick to singing. You like singing so much that you are the only one singing.

When you are about to end Total Eclipse of the heart as in like total eclipse of the heeeeeaaa…. you happen to glance at the time and you suddenly stop. They all look at you wondering and you say, curfew na.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 26, 2014.


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