San Pedro, considered to be the center of Davao City, is where you will find the city hall, the cathedral, and various shops. On Sundays after the mass, you’ll see people coming out of the church like soldier ants from their anthill. As you walk away from San Pedro Cathedral, it’s like making your way to the battlefield because you’ll have to squeeze yourself into the crowd, making sure that your belongings are still intact and your cellular phone or wallet is in your possession. Snatchers are everywhere pretending to be shoppers or bystanders so you’ll never notice how they orchestrate their schemes. Everywhere you look, you’ll surely see a swarm of people either dressed in their office uniforms or in their casual wear ready to shop till they drop or just hang around Rizal Park. In the park, you’ll notice the senior citizens entertaining themselves with a game of chess or dancing cha-cha and swing and even see little kids running around, being chased by their parents. You’ll see people coming out from everywhere, crossing the streets, out from stores and places nobody else knew existed. You’ll see vendors left and right shouting out, convincing you to buy their items. But most infuriating are the beggars popping out of nowhere with their hands stretched out; others even following you to the point that you’ll get tired of saying “No!” Cars and PUVs blow their horns, stopping wherever they want to without even caring if it’s a loading and unloading zone. Strolling in San Pedro for a whole day will probably leave you burnt out and in need of a long night’s rest.
After we transferred to our house in Buhangin, it took a long while before I was able to go back in San Pedro to attend mass there again. This was probably why I looked at the place in a different light. As I walked out of the church to buy DVDs in the nearby shops, it felt like people were running in a rat race. I stopped by a stall to look at something that had interested me, when I suddenly felt somebody trying to open my bag. A mixture of dread and anger washed over me and I was ready to shout and pounce on whoever that person was. When I looked behind, I saw a small kid in his dirty clothes and mismatched slippers. I didn’t know how to react, what was I supposed to do or say to him!? In the end, I just walked away, wondering how many small children are picking pockets just to have their next meal. What will these children’s next victims do to them if they’re to get caught? Don’t they have parents to feed them? I went home with a heavy heart still seeing the face of that little kid.
I admit I have not gone back to San Pedro since.