Progress, that word again. A little at a time, like baby steps, the city has been on the cusp of a changeover that’s so remarkable, any returning native wouldn’t anymore recognize the street they were born in even if they employed Google Map’s aid. For the rest who have been around since the 80s down to the 60s, the transformation of Davao has been unyielding in its dogged stride towards its present status as a modern metropolis.
Our once-sleepy and narrow main streets, C.M. Recto and San Pedro, prior to the shopping mall invasion from all fronts, used to be decorated with an assortment of old wooden houses and simple retail stores. It is now transformed into a wider and fully-cemented roadway devoid of street posts adorned with spaghetti-like maze of wires. These are likewise accentuated with expanded sidewalks, with some serving as entryways to condominiums and modern buildings, with some already qualifying as skyscrapers, for residency and business. While many (if not all) accept this modernization and proudly accredit it as the direct consequence of urbanization and growth, the assessment just seems all too simplistic. After all, one cannot just blindly attribute everything to the demands and results of modern times and then free-ride from there. As with any other venture, one can only assume there is a payback.
As in all, two things; there will always be the contradicting sentiments of acceptance and aversion, tolerance and dissent. Through these, there is only one important question: for whom is all these development really, for business or the population? Those at the realm will profess to the high heavens, addressing the needs of the city’s growing population is the only valid reason for the city’s stepped-up goals at development. But ask any man-on-the-street, how is it that while the creation of modern highways and farm-to-market roads for one, ease the flow of market and goods from end to end, the daily commuters, in their flimsy PUJs and buses are still locked in traffic for most of the day? Since time immemorial, the answer to this has always been, such is the price of progress. In hindsight, those who’ve proposed more progressive traffic controls like, lesser volume of private vehicles are ignored because “it’s a human right to own a car”. In effect, the city’s solution appears to be much like that of the “Russian” formula.
I remember back in the 80s, an old emigre and tennis buddy would delight us with anecdotes and interesting tales from foreign lands. In Russia he said, the last consideration when building a rocket or a jet plane is their weight. They merely put in a larger engine. In the same way, it appears that our solution to the ever-increasing volume of vehicles on the road is to create more roads and more parking spaces! In essence, as we gaze in awe at all this progress, let’s not be bamboozled by its blinding lights. For all we know, in the distant or near future, while the metro gleams against the evening light, all the inhabitants might as well be living at the fringes.
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