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Rough Cuts | Changing economic landscape

Some 40 years ago, when one talks of Davao City, what is meant about is only its central business district (CBD). Beyond a 10-kilometer radius, it is either the sea or the “bukids” or the areas belonging to the highlands.
These are the places they used to say as the city’s “last frontiers.” Thus could probably be the reason why in the early days of the insurgent movement, the rebels made the suburban peripheries as their recruitment base as well as their staging points in their recruitment activities or launching attacks against the military or the police. But with rebellion waning out the city’s suburban areas are turning into communities in bloom.

Today Davao City’s second and third districts are clearly competing with each other to be the city’s new economic growth areas. After taking the uncomfortable tag as “last bastion of insurgency” these two political districts are now bustling with economic activities, and in a much faster manner.
In terms of industrial growth the second district, for now, appears to have slight advantage over the third. The latter though is ahead over the former in terms of hosting resources and businesses that perk up the city’s service sector.

For years, the city’s second district is home to many large industries even during the time when the dominant economic activities were wood processing and log exporting. Coconut oil extraction has most of its plants located in the same district. The second district is also host to one of the country’s biggest cement manufacturing plants. Over the last ten years, it also became home to one of the largest iron processing and manufacturing plants in the country. And we are referring to Steel Asia with plant having an installed power capacity of 20 megawatts.

It helps as well that the city’s air and sea ports are in the second district. Hence, all finish products from the many manufacturing firms all over the city have to exit from there. And incoming raw materials for the various manufacturing establishments in the city also have its entry in the sea and airports located in the same district.

On the other hand, the third district is host to the city’s two major power suppliers – the 300 megawatt coal-fired Therma South power plant in Binugao, Toril, and a number of the hydro power plants of Hedcor, Inc. Both electricity generating companies are owned by Aboitiz Power Corp. These two generating plants assure the stability of power supply in the entire Davao City and its neighboring provinces and cities.

The third district is also the source of the city’s potable water. We have the underground water source from the Dumoy aquifer, the Tugbok as well as the Calinan wells, and soon the P12-billion ground water that will be processed and delivered in bulk to the Davao City Water District (DCWD) reservoirs for distribution to its consumers. The bulk water supplier is Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., a joint venture firm of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) and J.V. Angeles Construction Corp.

We have noted that the sudden dispersal of economic activities in the second and third districts also pulled a good number of the city’s population to where their employments are. So, coupled with the higher cost of living in the city’s central business district and the growing intolerability of the downtown’s humidity, people are opting for the relatively comfortable living in the city’s peripheries.

It is on this aspect the more aggressive property developers are quick to take advantage of the situation. Today we can already see that residential subdivisions – low, middle and high-end – are sprouting all over districts two and three. Tacunan, Ula, Los Amigos, and even Biao Escuela and Balentong going to Barangay Talomo River are now sites of subdivisions with detached and duplex residential houses. Even the mountain barangays in Toril are now locations of residential enclaves being developed by the country’s subdivision moguls.

In the second district, more specifically in the higher grounds of Buhangin and Bunawan, what used to be the city’s remaining green areas are giving way to subdivisions — large and small. Malls and supermarkets are rising in Buhangin central area and in Cabantian where low, medium, and high-end residential enclaves now abound.

The Villar-led Camella brand housing is now well on its way constructing a combined high and mid-rise condominium in a township that has all what it takes for a well-appointed community. That is, that the project includes not only residences but also a mall complete with all commercial shops to supply the needs of residents, and office buildings.

Thus, it is now clear that the burgeoning of these clustered residential communities in the city’s relatively rural areas is also bringing in all kinds of economic endeavors thereat. That is why there is no need to wonder why new malls, department stores, convenience stores, fast food establishments, and even night joints are sprouting in such new growth centers as Toril, Mintal, and Calinan in the third district.

Indeed Davao City is going exactly on the same direction that Cebu City was headed to some twenty years ago – the upland peripheries.
We however hope the city government is several steps ahead in dealing with this development if it is to avoid the potential negative impact in the very near future.

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