Amazing milestones of Dabawenyos in the last 12 years

EDGE Davao was born at a time when Davao Region – Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Occidental, and Davao de Oro – and some of its citizens were beginning to etch a name for themselves in the national amd international fronts.

For the first time in Philippine history, a man from Mindanao became the president of the Philippines.  When Rodrigo R. Duterte was proclaimed winner of the 2016 presidential election,  he became the first lawyer to become the country’s highest official in more than two decades. The last time the country had a lawyer president was from 1965 to 1986.  That was the time of the administration of Ferdinand E. Marcos.  His term ended when he called for a snap election that was followed by a peaceful revolution called the 1986 EDSA Revolt.

Duterte obtained his law degree from San Beda College of Law and passed the bar exam in 1972, the year when Marcos declared Martial Law.  A member of Lex Talionis Fraternitas, Mr. Duterte started his professional career as a Special Counsel at the City Prosecution Office in Davao City from 1977 to 1979.  From 1979 to 1981, he was Fourth Assistant City Prosecutor.  His ranking went up to Third Assistant City Prosecutor (from 1981 to 1983) and finally Second Assistant City Prosecutor from 1983 to 1986.

Ramon Magsaysay Winner

In 1985, Rev. Harold Ray Watson – an American agricultural missionary working in barangay Kinuskusan in Bansalan, Davao as director of Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center – was named by Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation as recipient of the peace and international understanding category.  He was recognized for international utilization of farming technologies which he and his Filipino counterparts developed.

It was not until 29 years later, in 2014, that another one from the Davao Region  was named a Ramon Magsaysay laureate.  Randy Halasan, a teacher who was assigned at Pegalongan Elementary School, was chosen as recipient of the Emergent Leadership award for “his purposeful dedication in nurturing his Matigsalug students and their community to transform their lives through quality education and sustainable livelihoods, doing so in many ways that respect their uniqueness and preserve their integrity as indigenous peoples in a modernizing Philippines.” After having been informed of his award, Halasan met with then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at a downtown hotel and informed him of his desire to help the community of Pegalongan realize its bridge project. When Mayor Duterte became President, Halasan was appointed as one of the Commissioners of the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor.

Two Senators 

For the first time in more than 5 decades, two Dabawenyos made it to the top in winning the senatorial derby during the May election last year.  Davao City’s Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, former Special Assistant to the President, placed third in the race.  Davao del Sur’s Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police Director General, also made it in that phenominal mid-term election wherein none of the opposition candidate won.  Both Go and dela Rosa will serve until 2025.

Actually, the first senator produced by Davao was Alejandro Durano-Almendras, a distant cousin of Vicente G. Duterte, father of the incumbent  President, who served as provincial governor of the undivided Davao Province. A predecessor of Vicente Duterte as undivided Davao governor, Almendras was elected senator during the time of President Carlos P. Garcia and served until President Marcos proclaimed Martial Law and abolished Congress in 1972.

The second Davao senator was Gaudencio Antonino, a civil engineer who became one of Davao’s top players during the logging boom in Davao. He made a name in the Senate by exposing the fat allowances received by members of the Lower House. His explosive expose earned for him a lot of political enemies such that he was not a member of political party when he  ran for re-election as an independent.

On the day of the election, Antonino died in a helicopter crash, prompting his wife Magnolia Welborn-Antonino to run in his stead. Mrs. Antonino won and became the third senator to come from Davao. Mrs. Antonino lost her Senate post like Almendras when Marcos abolished both Houses of Congress. Before then, the Antoninos had established a political base in nearby South Cotabato, particularly General Santos City, where Antonino;s son, Adelbert, Lualhati, his wife and daughter Darlene A, Custodio later served almost in succession as mayor and House representative. Rodolfo, another son of Gaudencio and Magnolia, became congressman of a district in Nueva Ecija,

Sports Arena

In sports, two boxers made Philippine history.  Jerwin Ancajas, who was born and raised in Panabo City, won several national championships, including a gold medal at the Palarong Pambansa.  At age 17, he turned pro.  When he defeated McJoe Arroyo in 2016, he became the IBF junior bantamweight.  Last year, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ranked him as the world’s fifth-best junior bantamweight while The Ring magazine and BoxRec listed him sixth.

Nesthy Petecio, who learned boxing from her father when they were still living in Tuban, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, has competed at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. This year, she will compete at the Tokyo Olympics.  Last year, she defeated Brazil’s Jucielen Romeu, Bulgaria’s Stanimiera Petrova, China’s Qiao Jieru, Japan’s Sena Irie, England’s Karriss Artingstall, and Russia’s Liudmila Vorontsova.

Ernie Gawilan, who learned swimming when he worked as a housekeeper in the Island Garden City of Samal, is a star in his own right.  Despite being handicapped, it didn’t stop him to become a winner.  He has competed in numerous tournaments in India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore.  He is the first athlete with disabilities to have competed in the Rio Olympics in 2016; he will be again in competition in Tokyo Olympics this year. 

Reality Shows Big Winners

Three talented personalities from Davao Region emerged winners in national reality television shows.  

Ruben Gonzaga, who was once a member of ABS-CBN Davao’s Joke Squad, made a record as the winner of Pinoy Big Brother: Celebrity Edition 2 in 2008.  He amassed a total of 506,402 text votes (that’s 32.17% of the total votes).  For the feat, the talent from Agdao and now a bigtime agriculture program producer online,  reportedly received a Sony Bravia, a Goodah business franchise package, a condominium unit at Chateau Valenzuela, and P2 million.

Four years later, a lass winner from Davao – this time from Digos City, Davao del Sur – was named winner in the first season of the X Factor Philippines.  Kristine Zhenie Lobrigas Tandigan – or KZ Tandigan for short – also won Aliw Award for Best New Artist that year.  

Internationally, KZ became famous when she joined Singer 2018, a popular singing competition aired on HBS.

In 2014, Davao and Mindanao’s only representative Neil Rey Garcia Llanes was chosen as the grand winner of TV’s Talentadong Pinoy.  Aside from the title, the “Beatbox King” took home also the one million pesos cash prize.  He also made it as semi-finals qualifier of the First Asia’s Got Talent. 

Plastic Initiative Award

Darrell Dean Blatchley – an American who calls Davao City his second home and chief executive officer of the D’Bone Collector Museum – was awarded first prize in the region’s Plastic Initiative Award given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The award in itself is an affirmation that we are doing the right thing and that other countries are taking notice (of our endeavors),” he told EDGE Davao.  “This is our first international award.  With every award for us, it’s like a key on a keychain that keeps getting bigger.  We are looking forward for more doors to open so we can make our work better.”