Absence of firecrackers marks Davao citys Yuletide season

Dec. 29, 2007

By Marilou M. Aguirre
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — “The celebration here is far different from other Mindanao cities I’ve visited,” confided Dondie Agaton, who sells trinkets outside Davao’s San Pedro Church.

While selling his wares in the last 10 years, Agaton, 27, said he has observed how cities like Cagayan de Oro and General Santos, have been celebrating the Yuletide season.

“Christmas should be jolly, with all the merriment and the firecrackers! You can’t have that here,” he said.

The manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices have been prohibited in Davao since 2002 through a city ordinance passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod. A year before that, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte imposed a total firecracker ban to avoid fire-cracker related injuries and deaths in the city.

“But Christmas here is nice and peaceful,” said Agaton.

He said he wished the city organized a trade fair, where vendors like him could sell their merchandise. “We can only start displaying our goods here early in the evening,” he said.

For street vendors like him, longer hours of displaying or selling their goods, would mean higher earnings.

“Our income has improved from what we normally earn on ordinary days,” said another vendor, Joselito Gregorio, 30.

With the city government hosting various activities at Rizal Park, sales by vendors like Gregorio and Agaton pick up as more people flock around the place, buying their stuffs.

On a Sunday before Christmas, the government invited the famous Pinoy rock-band Bamboo for a mini-concert at Rizal Park. The place was virtually inundated with people, mostly teenagers.

Rizal Park also hosted the “Lamdag Dabaw,” a Pasko Fiesta launching and simultaneous lighting of the parks, Paskohan sa markets, malls and streets; “Dalit Sayaw sa Pasko,” a homage to youth in dance with selected Davao dance groups and RODY Project finalists; “Hudyaka ug Paskuhan para sa mga Kabataan,” a Council for the Welfare of Children’s Christmas celebration; “Huni ug Salamangka with musician Popong Landero and chess enthusiast James Infiesto,” a children’s hour; “Pakonsiyerto sa Dabaw Harmonic Orchestra;” “Paskohan sa mga Kababaihan;” “Himig Pasko,” Himig singers and alumni Christmas concert; “Rondalya sa Kalsada,” a rondalla and folk dance competition; “Dasig Sayaw sa Pasko,” a Christmas cheer dance competition; Baktas Karakas, a street band competition; “Kantahan sa Pasko,” grand finals of the amateur singing contest; Senior Citizens’ Christmas showcase grand finals; and “Panayegon sa mga Bata ug Batan-on,” a caroling competition. As part of its “Pasko Fiesta sa Dabaw,” the city government has scheduled different events which run from December 6 to January 6 next year.

“During ordinary days, we could only earn a meager 150 pesos to 300 pesos, Gregorio said. But now, were earning at least 500 pesos. We can earn as much as 1000 pesos per day,” he said. “It’s really different when there are festivities.”

Michael Cahulogan, 18, who is selling balloons or inflatable toys with cartoon character designs, said he earns as much as 800 pesos per day.

A former cigarette vendor, Cahulogan has been selling balloons and other goods for two years now. Most of his customers are kids and teenagers who buy his stuff as gifts for their boyfriends or girlfriends. He displays his goods around five in the afternoon until 11 in the evening outside San Pedro church.

He said does not get so lucky all the time. “There are days when I only earn 35 pesos.”

Based on the National Wages and Productivity Commission date in the Davao region as of July 2007, the daily cost of living for a family of six — the average number of a Filipino family — is 660 pesos, an amount that is way above the daily income of these street vendors.

Cahulogan said he still celebrates a happy Christmas despite this and hopes that the people of Davao especially the kids, will feel the same.

For Emmarie Severo, 25, and her sister, Annabel Aniga, 39, Christmas in Davao is more beautiful because of the newly-opened People’s Park.

Less than a week after the park opened, they brought their children there to relax and have fun.

“Even though we have financial difficulties, we have a lot of places to visit and stroll around,” said Severo.

Amidst their financial problems, family members are still helping each other, she said.

A second-year criminology student in one of the major universities, Carlo Francisquete, 18, considers Davao city his second home. He has lived here since his freshman year, but hes going home to Davao Oriental to spend his Christmas with his family. “Christmas is the time that families get together. It is time for forgiving,” he said. (Marilou M. Aguirre/davaotoday.com)

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