Banners started flying in the warm Davao breeze last week. Sales all over the city are starting to gather crowds. Food trucks and tiangge stalls start to line up even major malls. March 16 was declared as a city-wide holiday. The city is all set for the 80th Araw ng Davao.
Last Saturday, I was having a light conversation over cake and coffee with a friend who is a real estate broker and digital marketer. She shared how fast the city is developing and progressing. She said in their industry, they are predicting that the next five years will be a boom. We are on the way up as a city. We are to expect breakthroughs on all fronts.
Business owners, however, are saying that there is a professional gap in the city. While there are a lot of business opportunities opening up, we are in great need of more qualified people to join the workforce. Do we lack college graduates? Not really. Graduation ceremonies will soon fill university auditoriums and function halls this month and the next. You need not be a statistician to know that we have enough graduates every school year to fill the workforce. Why, then, is there a gap? The answer is simple. Those who are highly qualified have gone either to Manila or abroad. Those who choose to stay, though qualified, may still be lacking certain professional skills to go abroad and are simply in their employment as an interim post before heading for greener pastures. Thus, the mindset is not to contribute in the present but to leave in the future. Those who are still in school or under training all have their eyes set on the plane that will fly them out of Davao after graduation believing that the best is out there, forgetting that our city’s slogan is “Life is here!”
I refuse to look at the dismal side of the situation. This is a time to rejoice because we are celebrating 80 years of growth as a city. So, I choose to focus on the fact that there are those who have chosen to stay in Davao all these years despite the challenges and the setbacks. I know some really brilliant Davaoeños in various fields and industries who stayed and worked hard to secure the city and its citizens’ welfare. Some of them are already in their senior years. Some are veteran entrepreneurs whose wisdom needs to be passed on. Some are dedicated but exhausted NGO workers. Some are faithful government employees who know that they have better career opportunities elsewhere yet choose to man their booths. Some are aging religious workers still shepherding their flock. Some are excellent medical practitioners who were not seduced by the lucrative opportunities that led to the exodus of doctors and nurses to America and Europe during the late 90s until now. Some are farmers dedicated to till the land and make it yield its bounty so that the rest of us would have food on our tables. Some are artists who serve as guardians of our culture. Many more will probably remain nameless and unrecognized yet are silently and humbly fulfilling their roles and meeting the needs of their communities.
As we celebrate the 80th Araw ng Davao, why don’t we, as a people, take this opportunity to think ahead and realign our mindset? If progress is indeed at our doorstep, how are we preparing ourselves for the changes that lie ahead? How are we readying our children for the future that awaits them?
Thinking ahead means having foresight. It means being prudent today so that tomorrow is more secure. It means exercising wisdom and delayed gratification today so that tomorrow will be more sustainable.
We are celebrating 80 years as a city. We have 20 years to think about our city’s future before we reach our centenary. Twenty years is enough time for each of us to choose to make a difference in our city. Twenty years is enough time to make a contribution in our own little ways. Those of us who are younger would truly benefit from the wisdom of the older generation. We need wise mentors who can help us navigate our way through business, family, social engagement, and in life as a whole. Our senior citizens can still pass on the lessons they’ve learned from the university of hard knocks so that the younger ones can take a better path. Twenty years is ample time to establish a good foundation for one generation. Twenty years is enough time to leave a legacy.
Twenty years is enough to design and follow a personal development plan. If each Davaoeño is taught how to pursue something that would make him/her a better person daily, then the city will truly be progressive and strong. If each Davaoeño will take responsibility for his/her personal improvement not for his/her own benefit alone but to be able to contribute to his/her community, then the city’s productivity in all aspects will inevitably increase by leaps and bounds. After all, a city is only as strong as its weakest resident.
Twenty years is enough for parents to resolve to make their family a solid building block forming the foundation and the walls of the city. This is enough time to strengthen marriages. This is enough time to enculturate godly and patriotic values to children. A city is only as indomitable as its most unstable family.
Twenty years is enough time for the youth to study and become excellent in their fields. It is a good preparation time for an entrepreneurial or a career path that would make them play a significant role in the city’s life and progress. A city is only as excellent as its most mediocre citizen.
In twenty years, the younger ones can enlist for apprenticeship under the tutelage of an expert. Whether it be in a formal academic setting or as experiential as an auto workshop, the youth need to learn from those who have walked the path before them and learn from the lessons of history.
Twenty years is enough time to intercede and pray for our city. We may work so hard for our city’s development, but we are still subject to One who is more sovereign that any of us. Our city has taken pride in being a haven, and yet pride in our own efforts alone can be the beginning of our downfall. There are things that are beyond our control. The weather changes without our permission. Natural disasters happen without prior notice. Our own breath may suddenly be gone overnight. We need to recognize that God is bigger than all that we have done and accomplished as a city. In fact, it is God who enabled us to do the good work that helped us reach the 80th Araw ng Davao. Regardless of our beliefs and religious affiliation, we need to recognize that Someone much greater than us established us as a city. Psalm 127:1 (NLT) says,
“Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.”
We are so blessed to be cradled in this beautiful city. God has been so good to us!
Happy 80th Araw ng Davao, my fellow Davaoeños!