All in the dark

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By Gary Covington

Looking In

Monday, May 19, 2014

"PEOPLE seek refuge at malls during brownouts."

So says Ivan Cortes of Davao City Investment and Promotion Center and Mr. Cortes must be frequenting different malls to me 'cos I've not noticed any increase in the crowds but then I'm not of the generation who regards 'malling' as a leisure activity. Malls are for business - buy the groceries, bookshop, and out. I'll stop for a soda in the foodhall - bicycling, rehydration - but don't see any point in hanging around. Malls serve no other purpose than to line businessmens' pockets and, oh look, see who it is claiming mall attendance is up.

There's an interesting point here. According to the item folks are 'flocking' to the malls to avoid the heat and, in the evenings, the brownout darkness. Folks with obviously time and money on their hands. Malls don't come cheap, what with the impulse buying of popcorn, ices and snacks, so why don't these people flock instead to the beaches or the hills to cool off. Beaches are the obvious choice - shady trees, a refreshing dip, amenities on hand if you feel like a bite to eat. Surely more interesting than staring into mall store windows at overpriced kit you can't possibly afford and don't really need.


Evening darkness. It's never absolutely underground dark. In the city, there'll be a skyline glow somewhere from bits of the city still with their lights on (Dogs) and, apart from a couple of days a month, there's always a moon. Go for a stroll. Thirty minutes out, thirty minutes in, no need to go far. See what the neighbors are up to. Or just sit on your stoop or verandah, gaze at the clouds, and think of nothing in particular. Or watch the fireflies and the cats wondering what to make of them. Or - if you've got the gear; lights, reflective waistcoat and so on - go for a bike ride. It's fun at night. Much cooler, less traffic, you'll be surprised at how many bikers there are pedaling about after 9 p. m. Keeps the blood going around, burns off some of that lazy fat and Davao at night is a different animal to daytime Davao.

Also seemingly in the dark are those who collate, collect and count the city's taxes - the City Treasurer's Office. Last year, it lost P14 million siphoned off by its own cash collectors. 2013's realty tax collection apparently fell short by some P1.3 billion, a revelation gasped by the city's frontpages and just as quickly denied by the CTO which offered up that this was a preliminary figure, not 'cleansed' of
erroneous entries, which seems to me pretty slipshod - why issue the statement in the first place? Then, just this month, came fears that the city was heading towards fiscal bankruptcy, a fear discounted by the CTO but I'll tell you what - why doesn't the City Treasurer's Office make good on its transparency pledges and publish figures for, say, the previous five years comparing the amount of taxable property - which must have increased enormously - with the actual realty tax collected. Show us simpletons that everybody really does pay his whack.

Lastly lastly and at last, the homeless victims of the Boulevard fire are being granted - completely free and in the same place, never mind rising sea levels - newly pegged-out lots of 30 square meters and if that doesn't seem like much think of Davao's 'studio' condo apartment tenants who shell out a million smackers and make do with just over half - a cramped 18 square meters.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 20, 2014.


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