Davao, and the Things You will miss Her for

Mount Apo, made golden by the sunrise. Seen from Toscana Homes.

When you leave Davao, you will miss the street lights of Toril, or the galaxy of raindrops seen from the glass window of the van from Kidapawan,a fanfare of light for your entrance into Her urban civilization.

You will miss the chirping of a thousand birds in Her trees right before the sun rises and right after it sets. You will miss how you can choose what to make of it: an alarm clock, a chime signalling end of class, or simply bass lines for the pandesal boy’s falsetto or the balut vendor’s baritone.

During the day you will miss that bamboo tree outside your room’s window, singing the voice of waterfall when the wind strums it. At night you will miss how the rain falling from the roof’s eaves become lightning bolts when made to glow by the florescent lamp.

You will miss the daily walks around Toscana, looking for metaphors. You will miss how the sunrise makes Mount Apo glow, Her consolation for the view of the mountain from Kidapawan’s Crossing Lanao that you miss. You will miss Mount Apo, from Toscana or from the Ateneo de Davao’s fifth floor lobby. You will miss how it drowns in morning mist,with only its three peaks  peeking to form islands in a sea of cloud.

You will miss your mother’s cooking. Oxtail in ginger broth, Kare-Kare, Dinuguan, Sinigang with buttery pork fat and Mustasa, dry garlicy Adobo, tangy Bangus Daing marinated for a week, Eggplants stewed in soy sauce, Cheesecake, Buko Pandan. You will still not know where mother hides that bottle of Home from which she takes a pinch every time she cooks.

But Davao will not be outdone by your mother, and you will miss Her good food too. You will crave for generously condimented puto bongbong, Jaltan’s creamy sapin-sapin and suman sa lihiya, almost everything they sell at Taps and at Ah Fat, the baby back ribs and potato salad at Coco’s, the lumpiang shanghai sauce at Dencia’s, the shanghai rice at Jack’s Ridge, the breaded bangus at Antonio’s grill.

You will miss nights at McDo Bajada or Matina and Jollibee Bajada with Christian and Renfred, your oldest friends. You will miss hearing about your batch mates back from Kidapawan (most of whom you don’t recall), about their sex lives, and you will miss coming home right after the sunrise.

You will miss reading in the local papers about the flamboyant but sensible-as-Switzerland things that the Dutertes do from time to time, making you think She is the best city in the country.

You will miss the little anecdotes She lets you hear on the jeep, from street vendors or from taxi drivers about men in black leather on motorcycles, suddenly killing noted wrongdoers walking scot-free because of a faulty National justice system.

You will miss that jeepney barker in Gaisano Mall who tells passengers to sit properly in English, and who dons messy makeup at night.

You will miss Her taxi drivers, polite, amicable, knowledgeable and honest, from whom you get fresh news you won’t even hear from media men.

You will miss the commanding view of Her from Jack’s Ridge, where street lights become stars and boulevards become constellations.

You will miss Her malls, where things are affordable but memories are free. The ghost of the fountain at Victoria Plaza, meeting people from the past you want to but don’t want to see in Gaisano Mall, recollections of the grade six field trip stop over at SM, writing down hope in KFC NCCC Mall, the audacity to try new things in Abreeza.

You will miss the time She gives you to think in jeepney rides, from Chowking Bajada to corner Acacia, or from Puan to Roxas, spent pondering the beauty of lips and petals, or of the fragility of human touch, or how life can culminate as road kill, or what to do with the garden once home.

You will miss the glorious solitude in her: that single Malibago tree standing right before Bangkerohan Bridge from corner Sandawa St.

You will miss Roxas Avenue, dominated by the Finster façade of the Ateneo de Davao and by the Marco Polo, a far cry from Quezon Boulevard.

You will miss the welcoming feeling of the Ateneo de Davao’s Humanities Division offices, where some of the most good looking people in the university slump on the couches and exchange gossip.

You will miss the brilliant and nurturing teachers of the Ateneo de Davao: sir Dom Cimafranca, ma’am Aurecel Alejandro, ma’am May Lynn Abella, ma’am Marjorie Belida, ma’am Rhodora Ranalan, ma’am Judith Dalagan, sir Hadj Balajadia, sir Nonoy Tomacruz, ma’am Maricar Panda, ma’am Annabelle Casumpa, ma’am Pam Castrillo, sir Noy Narciso, sir Lunar Fayloga, sir Meong Cabarde, ma’am Tetchie Aquino, ma’am Vicky Pre, sir Sonny Cirunay, sir Vincent Juan. The awe at seeing how people can influence.

You will miss the Ateneo library, where you squeal (deep inside, silence in the library please) at the sight of a copy of Dream of the Red Chamber. The giddying feeling of spending entire days reading at the Filipiniana section. The relaxing naps in the fifth floor during useless Philo or Theology classes.

You will miss the laid back AB English Major classes, 5 people in a room overlooking Roxas Avenue, talking of Derrida and Deriada. Clark’s suspicious but amusing patronizing, and the teacher’s amicability (doubly so with ma’am Ranalan). The freedom to ask her to postpone the quiz, or extend the submission of a requirement. The feeling of walking out smarter than students suffering under less humane  teachers.

Davao will make you miss the Ateneo students,  Her version of Manila’s conyo, undereducated and naive but amicable, attractive and fashionable. You will miss the constant danger of falling in love with one of them.

You will miss Her literary community. The Davao Writers Guild: ma’am Jhoanna’s indomitable vivacity, sir Mac’s simple but powerful wit, sir Ricky’s incredible friendliness heightened by his celebrity, ma’am Aida’s grandmotherly presence, kuya Julian, kuya Jondy, ma’am Weng. Her witty younger writers: Jepoy, Allen, Karla, Lola Meghan, the UP Min people, Macky. The feeling of being in civilized society.

You will miss the SALEM, course club turned literary society, your own niche in that literary community of Hers. The intelligent conversation with Karen, Pido, Jonathan, Lily, Koko, Raizza, Caryl, Alex, Diana, Ram, Audrey, Greysh, along with the vocal alumni Glyd, Karlo and Fifi. Its tradition of always having a Karlo in its membership. Its charming little idiosyncrasies.  You will miss sir Dom’s benevolent, guiding, almost fatherly presence. You will miss the feeling of accomplishment, of being admired, of being loved and of being cared for.

You will miss how She opened up possibilities for you, in the Ateneo and elsewhere. Kidapawan had not been kind to you, but She gave you a chance. You will miss how She made you feel that you were worth something.

You will miss Her own little flaws, which, with your heart twisted by love, become objects of an unusual fondness. You will miss how that fondness transforms frustration into the drive to change. You will miss how She tries to be someone else when she can be glorious if She was true to Herself. Her disregard for Her own worth. Her unsentimental proclivities. You will miss Her tergiversations. Her insecurities. Her inconstancies. Her denials. Her doubts.

Oh, you will leave Davao, and how you will miss Her!



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