Duterte surrounded by crowd and cellphone cams as he arrives to vote at Daniel Aguinaldo High School in Davao (Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

Waiting for Digong

Crowd waiting for Rodrigo Duterte to cast his vote in Davao City Daniel Aguinaldo High School (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

DAVAO CITY— The Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School hardly saw a crowd in its grounds like the one that descended outside Precinct 216 on the afternoon of May 9, election day.

It was like a mob waiting for a rock star. Many of them dressed in red and raising fists and cheers at broadcast cameras, people were jockeying alongside media and police for a view.

Precinct 216, a room labeled Aster (after the flower), was one of 14 clustered voting precincts in the school where 90,000 Davaoeños would vote.

As the noontime heat gave way to afternoon shade, fewer voters came to vote in the precinct. Still, the rush of people who wanted to see the precinct’s most famous voter did not end. The rest of the school gradually emptied, except for the area surrounding the bungalow classroom.

Some had arrived since morning, others after they cast their own votes. They were pointing cell phone cameras at the scene, on themselves, or on familiar faces from the national media, hoping their angle would capture the moment they saw him.

Couple waits for Duterte in Davao City precinct before he casts his vote (Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

(Shot by Dong Plaza, ABS-CBN News)

The people here were waiting for Rodrigo Duterte, the man they believed would be president. And as the minutes of that fateful day passed, it was not just in Davao.

Everyone across the nation awaited him.

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Duterte-Cayetano wall mural in Davao City (Shot c/o Melchor Zarate)

Countdown to the end game in Duterte-land

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Davao City private billboard supporting mayor Rodrigo Duterte's presidential bid

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

DAVAO CITY— In the city of pomelos and durians, it’s business as usual under the scorching sun.

The streets bustle only with the rush-hour jams of vehicles driving under the mandatory 30-kph speed limit. Pedestrians shy away from the elements at high noon, except for the occasional street hawker peddling beads.

If not for the campaign posters that sparsely dot this city, you would hardly notice that it’s election season.

It still qualifies as quiet here, much as it was in the days that led to an election that has elevated Davao City and its most famous resident to national and international prominence.

Common poster area at Davao City for 2016 elections

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

The quiet is also characteristic. This city has gained a reputation as a blueprint for where 16 million Filipinos think the Philippines should be.

But the tranquility masks the mix of anxiety and excitement here, as it did during the countdown to the May 9 vote.

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Defying destruction: Christmas in Cateel

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

After Pablo Log 3

St. James the Apostle Parish in Cateel, Davao Oriental at night - Christmas 2012 with Christmas tree (Shot by Mel Estallo)

CATEEL, DAVAO ORIENTAL (Dec. 25)– The brightest lights around did not shine when this town welcomed Christmas.

The temporary generator powering the parish’s tree of Christmas lights along with Cateel’s rebuilt street lamps had broken down a few days earlier.

With the streets dark, the St. James Church had to call off the customary Misa de Aginaldo.

But the night before Christmas was not silent in the town plaza.

It actually seemed more like New Year’s Eve. The plaza rang with jolting pops and blasts every other minute as children set off small firecrackers to the ground. Some squealed and ran away as the pellets went off.

The town’s youth lounged around the still-littered plaza, taking advantage of the first dry night in days.

Other kids played with soldiers from Davao City who had camped out at the plaza after they responded to the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo.

Children in Cateel plaza playing with firecrackers on Christmas eve 2012 (Shots by Bernie Mallari & Anjo Bagaoisan)

(Shots by Bernie Mallari & Anjo Bagaoisan)

The soldiers have been here for nearly a month, and they only found out days before they would spend Christmas here.

They only hold on to the prospect that they’ll be back at their base by December 31st.

Nearby, some police officers celebrated in the dark over drinks. They blared pop songs from their patrol car and shone their flashlights onto some of the kids who danced along.

Still, duty called for some of the police, who stood guard at a checkpoint.

Mixed commemorations

Our news team here had just finished live reports for TV Patrol and Bandila, where Niko Baua reported that not all families in Cateel would get relief packs from the social welfare department in time for Christmas dinner.

The team was also nearing the one-month mark out of town. They were among the first to meet the storm as it reached the east coast in Leyte, then moved here.

Some cooks on the team tried their best to whip up some dishes: some ham, canned fruit salad, and spaghetti. Just for a familiar taste of Christmas without family.

Before midnight, Niko and reporter Rodney Ray Salas of ABS-CBN RNG Davao went around with their crews to find how residents in other parts of town were spending Noche Buena.

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Desperate

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

After Pablo Log 2

View of Baganga town in Davao Oriental after it was struck by Typhoon Pablo (Shot by Chiara Zambrano)

BAGANGA, DAVAO ORIENTAL–They’ve never experienced anything like it.

Old-timers here say the last storm of this scale passed them in 1912.

For a century after, the town of Baganga (pronounced ba-GANG-ga) and its neighbors breezed through warnings of strong gales and signal 3 typhoons.

Then came Pablo.

The warnings this time to prepare or leave were hardly heeded by some. They thought it would be just like the previous ones, where nothing happened.

Pablo passed, but it carried away with it their homes, their food, their livelihood, and for a number, their loved ones and their future.

The sight of children signaling vehicles with palms outstretched is growing familiar to those travelling the roads of this region.

At other roadsides, families and neighbors who lost their homes huddle under makeshift shacks of torn iron roofing, plastic tarp, or banana leaves.

Some have brandished signs saying “Donation pls.” or “Tabang”, the local word for “Help”.

With the civilized world waiting in bated breath for the “end” of the world, their cares tug more at the gut to even worry about it.

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