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Señor Moments | Davao City memories

This is the continuing series of historical narratives that describe living in our city – by persons who lived here. This is Niel Dalumpines’ story:

“The “Leon ug si Maria” Visayan comical skit was Davao City’s most hilarious Friday night live stage entertainment in the early 50s. Patronized by several hundreds of city folks, they come in droves to watch it live at the town’s epicenter, Rizal Park. Fluent Visayan radio broadcasters, Jess Espano and Bert Boiser, who later became governor of Davao del Norte, would emcee the 2 hour comedy show cum singing competition. The stage was propped up beside City Hall and within the vicinity of the old skating rink, right in the middle of the park. Guitar wizard Pamping Gacayan, throwing rich, hybrid chords to the songs’ intros, accompanied contestants. This live entertainment was first sponsored by COVO, brand name of a cooking oil household item. It was taken over by Purico Amateur night which segued into PMC Amateur night. Later Golden Key Cigarettes came into the spotlight emceed by a prominent DXAW, DXMC radio personality, and musician, Nonoy Morada with kicker, veteran Visayan comedian, Tony Solis.

At sundown every day, the city skating rink, which is now the paved area where the statue of Jose Rizal is mounted, was a giant playground for roller skaters.Toddlers and teens fasten and strap to their shoes their 4 wheel quad roller skates and just glide and wheel around the rink for an evening recreation. Some innovative youngsters would craft home made wooden scooters with roller ball bearings using them as the front and rear wheels. Batteries are installed to beam headlights and stick other shiny decorative metals on the front portion of the scooter to spruce it up.

Directly across the street (San Pedro St) was the Gems Theatre, a second run movie house right smack at the corner of Bolton St. Lining up that side of the street were Sevilla’s Book Store, Magno’s Department Store, Philippine Sweepstakes Office, Davao Grocery, Dr Morales Dental Clinic, Dr. de la Paz/Conchu Clinic and the iconic Lolengs Eatery, catering native cuisine, like bibinka, pastries and other delicacies.

Giftmart was right at the corner of City Hall Drive and San Pedro St. Above the building was a huge Goodyear neon signage with bright flickering lights circling the perimeter of the signage. Set up at the top of the building, it was facing Rizal and Osmeña Parks, San Pedro Church, PNB and the Capitol tennis courts. Giftmart catered to high heeled politicians, professionals, businessmen, students and city employees too. Its next door neighbor was the town’s leading snack center, the 3 Sisters, famous for barbecue, Halo halo, Mami and palabok. Both establishments had their own line of regular patrons because they installed a jukebox where music on a 45 rpm vinyl record can be played by dropping 10 centavos on the slot. End”

Many of today’s kids don’t know – and haven’t seen what these are. But restaurants and cafes had these. There were 2 types, the STAND-UP and the SIDE-TABLE. Restos like Giftmart had the “stand-ups” where you dropped a 10-centavo coin, picked a song via keypad – and voila! a mechanical arm would pick-up a 45-vinyl record and play this through its speakers. One can see this in Elvis films like “LOVING YOU”.

The “SIDE-TABLE” jukebox type is less common. There was only one I know of and this was at a cafe on Magallanes in front of the Brokenshire hospital then – a cafe owned by the Sarenas family called “Melalyn’s”. We used to hang-out there because the PAL stewardesses did too.

Nick Alcantara (who then lived in a rented house at Quimpo Compound on Rizal) and I used to walk to Loleng’s for merienda – halo-halo. Loleng’s was located on “Crooked Road” (Ponciano St. Extension) and San Pedro ST. Loleng is the mom of Willie Torres of UM and Mindanao Times. Willie Torres is married to Betsy Dizon, of the Pomelo Farm clam.

Since I love books, this was a favorite go-to place. I would spend hours browsing there. I think it was owned and managed by a lady. Bookstore was located on Bolton across the Ice and the San Pedro Church. Sevilla’s Bookstore was another favorite for book-lovers.

Gerard Dacudao (who now lives in Valencia, Spain) asked about this building. The original 1950-structure survived miraculously the Great Fire in the ’60’s – but had to be razed and rebuilt after the bombing which killed many. The new church was designed by my tennis partner, Arch. Maning Chiew, who designed many buildings – Dencia’s, all the Mormon Temples in Mindanao and others. Many people, including Gerard and myself, prefer the design of the old church.

On the corner of Sandawa RD. and McArthur HWY, stands alone a Kapok tree – which must be one of the few remaining ones, the only one I’ve seen around. There used to be many like the stately, shady Acacia which lined up on Uyanguren (now Magsaysay) and many other streets. Before plastic FOAM was developed, the Kapok “COTTON” from its pods were used as “FILLERS” for our pillows. These were plentiful and cheap – you picked up the fallen pods on the ground. I thought we could sleep more peacefully “mas mahimbing” then from our pillows. Or maybe, there was less STRESS then.


Life vs. Livelihood.
Buhay vs. Hanap-buhay.

This is the BALANCING ACT that PRRD and his cabinet and our Medical Experts must decide on a plan of action. Lifting the ECQ on May 1 – even on a phased, selective basis – is risky. But continuing ECQ could lead to RECESSION, or possibly a DEPRESSION – and maybe even state BANKRUPTCY. I believe the lesser risk is to forestall this by jump-starting our Economic Recovery NOW.

Here are my TOP 5 proposed solutions:
1. Re-align the “BUILD-BUILD-BUILD” program by focusing on HEALTH, FOOD, WATER & essential need – the supply chain of goods & services. Re-purpose factories to manufacture face masks, PPE’s, test kits, alcohol, medicines, vaccines, ventilators, equipment to convert public & private buildings into hospitals, testing labs, and quarantine areas.

2. Make each HOME, each BARANGAY self-sufficient in basic food and water needs to survive long lockdowns. For food, vegetable and fruit gardens. for water, tanks.

3. Re-orient businesses to home-based food, grocery, medicines, education can be HOME-DELIVERED.

4. Hire workers w/in clusters. For example, SM City Ecoland should hire employees who live in 1 ride distance.

5. FAST- and AFFORDABLE- internet service, like in Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.

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