In the southern part of Davao City, there were as many coconut trees as there were rustic houses. The trees proudly stood at different heights and formed dancing shadows on our rooftops.
If one drove south and traversed the span of General McArthur Highway, he or she would encounter the expanse of green spires to the right and the so-called rich kids of my high school alma mater, Ateneo de Davao, to the left. Up ahead, Mt. Apo stood as a majestic background, forming a splendid tapestry behind a then emerging urban space.
When I was younger, I believed that a skyline spoke of a city’s own wealth and progress. And in more ways than one, this was true given that the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago were often objects of fascination in Hollywood movies during my time. To me, greater heights meant greater progress — in the same manner that a rural area’s development meant a Jollibee store opening doors for the first time to people close to its proximity.
It was no surprise that a few years before the year 2000, I became an 8-year old witness to how people regarded the Marco Polo building as a sacred symbol of Davao’s ability to keep up with the modern times. Everything beyond it, however, was still flat. This observation made me conclude that my hometown has only humble beginnings and a slow pace for progress.