DAVAO CITY – Just three days after the deadly Night Market blast, citizens flocked to Roxas Avenue on Monday to pay their respects, light candles, and say prayers for the casualties of Friday night’s bombing.
Stalls and food carts have reopened as people walked unhurriedly, savored street food, and hunted for bargains at the local “ukay-ukay” while Task Force Davao personnel, police, and barangay tanods patrolled the famous strip.
Mang Vic, who runs a food cart, narrates how lucky he was on the fateful night. He was no more than 10 meters away when the explosive went off. “I was just so lucky to have walked away when I did. Not more than a minute when I left the massage area did I hear a loud explosion and saw body parts fly off in all directions,” he recounted.
“I’ve seen this kind of terrorism before. We Davaoenos have been through a lot over the years and we will bounce back,” he added. Mang Vic admits he was scared to reopen his business at first, but he remains hopeful that people will come back.
Local broadcaster Marilyn said the Night Market is one of her favorite places in the city and whenever she has guests from Manila or neighboring provinces, she would always take them to Roxas Avenue. She was back at the shoppers’ mecca with family and friends while being interviewed.
“Davao has seen bad times, but just like we did over the years, we’ve always been undeterred. I admit I do not agree with some of the President’s policies but I believe he is a strong leader and he gets results done. I don’t believe he is to blame for what happened. His pronouncement that Davao City is a safe place is true. We are really safe from petty criminals. You can walk the streets even at night without fear of being held up or any similar misdeed. What happened was really an act of terrorism which is really difficult to prevent,” Marilyn said.
For young people like Vince and Jai, third year Architecture students from Ateneo de Davao University, the Night Market is still their venue of choice to unwind after a long day at school. Both students grew up knowing Rodrigo Duterte when he was still the mayor of the city.
Vince and Jai’s confidence in President Duterte’s leadership remain high, now that he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the Philippines. “This was something we really could not have prevented. What happened was really an insult to our leader. Young people here in Davao do not have to worry about the same street crime compared to major cities like Metro Manila. We still believe we are safe and there is nowhere else we would rather be,” Vince said.
It was surprisingly busy on a Monday night. People were smiling and the mood was indeed high-spirited. Davao may have been seriously hurt by the Night Market blast but the faces in the crowd show strength and courage.
Checkpoints remain in key areas but are less in number now. Police and military personnel maintain a high visibility within the city. The blast may have taken lives but it will not take away Davao City’s spirit and resilience.