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Davao City: My Greatest Fears

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Well, this marks the 10th year of living in country. Most of those years have been living in Davao. This represents my point of view based on my life experiences and not meant to be the overall truth and reality of life in this country. On a day to day basis, here are my greatest concerns that I deal with regularly.

#1 Health and Disease: the kids tend to be prone to respiratory infections. Our one and a half year old is just getting over pneumonia. Although I find the air here in Davao better than Cebu or Manila, it still has a lot of dust kicked up by vehicles that exposes the kids to all sorts of crap. The other disease problem that concerns me is dengue. I do take extra effort to keep the mosquitoes away. A few cases popped in our general neighborhood and my anti-mosquito campaign really geared up. 

#2 Traffic: the second biggest risk to my family is the general lack of enforcement of traffic laws. Although Davao probably enforces laws better than most cities, there still seems to be the general belief that sidewalks are parking spaces and that the right lane of streets is a free for all zone for jeepneys, taxis, double parked cars, and motorcycles. The city does have a jay walking law, but barely enough crosswalks for street crossing (and from time to time, I think the average driver thinks those white lines on the road means hurry up before the pedestrians get there). We've been lucky, but I have had to stare down more than a few impatient drivers when crossing the street with my older daughter at school. Traffic in Davao is getting pretty bad.

#3 Chismis: rumor mongering is commonplace - part of a widespread crab mentality. The nation is the land of friendly smiles in face to face contact. But when your back is turned, shit talking is a national pastime. Chismis doesn't bother an old fart like me who has seen and heard it all. But I do see it bothering my wife and kids from time to time. Now in general I'd advise my family to ignore it, but the reality is that when they have to deal with it daily it does influence their behavior - to lower their standards downwards. That irritates me to no end because I'm trying to train the kids to lift themselves up when faced with adversity.

#4 Water Runoff Management: Davao is on coastal plain. During the rainy season, parts of the city is prone to flooding. Flooding can come from rivers (which can affect whole neighborhoods), can be localized to local streets due to inadequate drainage systems, or just your home (also due to inadequate drainage). We have friends who live near the river who have to evacuate during real heavy rains due to a regular flooding. We live on relatively high ground in our neighborhood, but the homes downhill of us get flooded regularly due to an inadequate neighborhood drainage system. Our house had spots with standing water when we purchased it, and I replaced the drainage pipes with larger ones and that problem has gone away (in addition to dengue mosquitoes, flood related diseases like leptospirosis is common).

#5-99… other minor irritants

#100: Drugs, communists (NPA), ISIS, and widespread corruption: all the stuff in the headlines. Yes, these are real dangers, but just not something that is high on my list of things to be cautious about. And that's based on day to day living experiences over many years. When there is a major incident in the city or on Mindanao, this of course can go up to problem #1 - but this is usually very short-lived. Martial law has been more of a friend to me than an enemy.

I love the city and it remains a good place for me to raise my family - as long as I keep my priorities straight.

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I too have been here many years. I have much (potentially) to contribute relative to your post. Dumaguete_NOBS (google) has alot of info relative to safety and quality of life here, including photos of victims, but generally I agree with most of your points. Respiratory disease is the one of the top (can't remember how top) leading causes of death here. Also the gossip is really destructive here I think. Misinformation spread on the net, often through forums is a problem also. Profit motive destroys the search for the truth. You cannot believe many as they delete posts that impact their advertisers or otherwise might negatively impact their desire to make more money.

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