Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Padada Davao del Sur - Life and Politics in a Small Town

Jose Rizal bust at the Padada Central Elementary School.

Padada, Davao del Sur, Mindanao Island, Philippines - Like most trips that come our way, we always seek for places that hardly rise above the tourist radar. I am partial to those off-the-beaten tracks; places that offer a slice of rural Philippines. After spending a couple of days in charmless Digos City, we decided to venture further south. We took a jeepney and decided on checking out the municipality of Padada. Other suggestions from friends include Malita and Hagonoy. Unfortunately, we were pressed for time and didn't have the luxury to enjoy Malita since it goes further south - while Hagonoy is way out of the National Highway! We settled with Padada and thought we'd have a few chats with the towns' folk to get a feel of the place.

There wasn't much going on as we treaded our initial steps, but little stories about simple matters pique our interest. For example, we wonder why a huge street like Mascardo remains unasphalted, while the very small road just a few walks perpendicular down Mascardo (doesn't even reach 100 meters, with hardly any vehicle passing through) is beautifully paved. A guy by a small tindahan (store) offered to enlighten us. It turned out to be a simple political equation. The barangay covering Mascardo doesn't vow support to the governor. Apparently, the only roads he is willing to fund are those barangays who pledge to support him. This strikes us as a grave example of power-playing and politicizing. A governor is a whole province's governor, even of the minority who didn't vote for him. But this province's governor has obviously limited his sovereignty to those who kiss his ass! His selective rule results in the selective development of this province. Small town politics, or small brain politics?

Padada, Davao del Sur is a 4th class municipality in the province of Davao del Sur. It has a population of 24,200 spread over 17 barangays. Almendras District covers the central, commercial area populated by the public market, bakeries, pawnshops (we saw a big Lhuillier pawnshop at the market), hardware shops, drugstores (we saw 3), transportation terminal, a private hospital located along Mascardo Street - Asilo Hospital, and one university - Southeastern College. The population is basically blue collar - teachers, government employees, paramedical professionals; a good number of whom work in nearby Digos City, 15-20 minutes north of Padada if you have a car; 30-45 minutes on a jeepney.

Navigating the central district is a leisurely walk that won't take 2 hours. There are no tourist spots to speak off. In fact, it doesn't even have a public park where residents can unwind for leisure. There used to be a Cinema house a few decades ago, but everything commercial doesn't seem to flourish, thus if you're looking for a mall or even a department store, you won't find them here. You have the option of traveling to Digos City, Davao City or General Santos City.

The municipality is in dire need of a visionary who is willing to invest on (at the very least) a leisure park to jumpstart its development and thus, honor its residents - instead of just condoning old time mayors who buy multiple cars and build mansions of their own! The newly installed mayor (Mr. Jun Caminero) is largely popular and people hope he will step up to the task of overhauling Padada's image as a laggard - the slowpoke - among Davao del Sur towns. "This town has never moved forward - it's the politicians who get rich," remarked a manang speaking in her sarisari store, as we finished our lukewarm bottle of Coca Cola. Hmmm. A familiar sentiment! Another person we've chatted with mentioned the fact that Mr. Caminero has been Vice Mayor for the longest time, yet he hasn't done much for Padada either. Why should people expect more this time? It's wishful thinking.

On our part, we believe that new beginnings are always a hopeful start. Things should then be looking up.

I had an easy commute from Padada's terminal back to our drab hotel in Digos City. The jeepney ride from Padada to Digos was just P20 per person.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Rizal Street - the main commercial road that also leads to the Municipal Hall.

Welcome arch of the municipal hall.

The road to the munisipyo.

Padada Municipal Hall - Years after the past administration has "ruled" this 4th class community, the municipal hall looks decrepit and falling to pieces. Talks surfaced that the past mayor (who ran as Vice Mayor and lost) is sporting 3 vehicles (2 of them brand new) and is finishing a million-peso mansion!

Paint chipping away at the Legislative Hall.

Women's Desk

Padada Municipal Auditorium

Tennis court

Hitting the ball.

A small chapel in the vicinity of the munisipyo (municipal hall). It stands unobtrusively beside the tennis court.

St. Michael's Church along Bonifacio Street.

St. Michael's Parish interiors.

St. Michae'sl School of Padada - A private, Catholic secondary school in the municipality.

Pedicabs (tricycles) queue at the market place. A ride to nearby streets costs P8/person.

An unfinished building makes for Padada Terminal's facade.

Colorful jeeps at the terminal.

View from the top - just when you thought it's full capacity. This "fiera" travels long distance north to Davao City, a trip that will take 2 to 3 hours depending on the frequency of stops to pick more passengers along the road.

One Network Bank - the municipality's lone bank. It has an ATM where you can withdraw cash, but it's hard to find the right timing as it's either offline or out of cash most of the time. In some instances, withdrawing cash gets hairy because your ATM card takes forever to pop out!

Water jugs, cooking kettles and pans, bukag...

Mangoes and bananas, the fruits of the season.

More fruits

During brown outs, there's absolutely nothing cold to drink coz the frequent power outages won't leave the refrigerators enough time to make some ice!

Once their petals open, they droop like bells.

Floral motif.

More photos and basic information about Davao del Sur here -http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2010/05/philippines-serene-charm-in-idyllic.html


Ciciolina said...

very good ..
it's interesting for me, thank you .

eye in the sky said...

Thanks. :->

Anonymous said...

Regarding about what you write to your blog it missed some parts, I am one of the residents of the municipality of padada. I'd like to mention that all of the municipality we had the biggest and nice market (meat,fish and vegetable sections) arranged it maybe not improved like Digos City, one thing is the public terminal only the municipality has that Big Terminal even if that is not covered. Poblacion area is still going for the improvements. Thank you for your BLOG some people know what other peoples view.

eye in the sky said...

Yes, I only had a limited time to check out the municipality. Most of the poblacion is a small area. I have seen the market (wet/fish market) and the dry goods area right across. It would help if there are signs at the terminal that says the destination of buses parked to make it tourist-friendly.

Nice quiet town. ;->

Anonymous said...

I was the one who was called Demon 69 of Padada, some of what you mentioned are true and some are not lies but luck of important details. I would suggest for you to stay at Padada for weeks or months for you to learn more about Padada. Those who are lazy will gain nothing and those who works smart and hard gains a lot, its just a matter of doing whats good. A lot of hardworking business minded I known from Padada had grown up their businesses but for some reason corruption, power, drugs discrimination and most of all gambling which make this town poorer. A lot of potential businesses, tourist spots and beaches could be build. I will be back in less than 3 months in this little town to evaluate if this town is ready for a change. I miss my home town and thanks for your Blog.

eye in the sky said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Anonymous aka Demon69 of Padada. You must mistake my blog as a Political Commentary Site for me to actually write an in-depth analysis about your home town. This isn't. It's a travel blog that tries to "scratch the surface" and I do not have intentions of staying there for a week moreso a month.

You have to take my experience as what it is, in a way how a tourist sees the place. I have learned what I needed to know from my interactions with Padada folks, and I am good with that. If however, other people would like to spread more information about Padada, they can do so themselves because I do not pretend to know more than what I am willing to. My travel site is about different places that I get to visit all over the world, not about Padada alone.

Your home town is pleasant. You will be coming home. I am sure you have avenues to share your good (or bad) news about Padada. Safe trip.