Who should control Davao, the Japanese or Filipinos?
This may sound a silly question today, but this was the hottest issue that raged in Davao in the 1930’s that eventually led to the creation of Davao City.
During this period, the then undivided province of Davao, which had a capital town with the same name, was the biggest producer of abaca in the world. Abaca as well as coconut plantations sprawled all over Davao Gulf, with the Japanese practically controlling the entire industry.
Despite laws restricting foreign ownership of land, the Japanese managed to become the largest plantation owners in Davao. They were able to achieve this by using dummies to buy land for them, by marrying local women, particularly with datu lineage, and by renting land from local landowners.
By the 1930’s, Davao was completely under the control of the Japanese. Their economic clout made them politically influential. They had their own schools, hospitals and road networks. The biggest concentration of the Japanese was in Guianga Municipal District, centered around Mintal. Their population continued to grow, reaching 17, 900 by 1939.
As Japan was a growing world power, having defeated Russia in 1904 and annexed Korea in 1910 and Manchuria in 1931, fears were raised as to the real intentions of the Japanese in the country. During the 1934 Constitutional Convention, Davao delegate Pantaleon Pelayo Sr. denounced the control of Davao by the Japanese and their unlimited acquisition of land. The presence of the Japanese in Davao had now become a national problem.
On March 16, 1936 Davao Assemblyman Romualdo C. Quimpo filed Bill No. 609 or Commonwealth Act No. 51, An Act Creating the City of Davao. The City of Davao was to be formed by combining the capital town of Davao and the municipal district of Guianga. This made Davao City the largest city in the world with a territory of 2,244 square kilometers or 244,400 hectares.
As the creation of Davao City was intended to break the control of the Japanese, the Act stipulated that its officials would be appointed by the President of the Philippines, instead of being elected. It was believed that in elections, Japanese-supported candidates would win, thus entrenching Japanese power in Davao.
On October 16, 1936, the bill was signed into law by President Manuel L. Quezon. The following year, on March, 1937, Executive Proclamation No. 132 was issued that formally organized the City of Davao.
It was during the term of Mayor Elias B. Lopez that the celebration of the foundation of City of Davao was made a week-long celebration that culminated on March 16.
Today, Davao City is the most progressive city in Mindanao and is considered the most livable city in the country. Foreign investors and visitors are all welcome, but the city is under the firm control of Filipinos as its founding fathers had intended.
Friday, 13 March 2009
Posted by yellOw-PhOenix at 04:50