By JB Tingzon
Davaoenos can’t help but appreciate what the city turns to during Christmas. Malls come up with unique themes to go with the spirit. Restaurants offer Christmas discounts on their meals to give foodies an excuse to indulge this time of the year. Establishments such as hotels and offices shine with Christmas lights and decors. And of course, stores are filled with what could be possible gifts – for others or for the shoppers themselves. These treats (and more) make Christmas in Davao wonderful.
Yet on any night of the season, a Davaoeno family may want to feel the holiday air without having to think much of the pocket. Where does such family go? Right, the People’s Park would be a good first guess.
People’s Park is just one of the venues where the month-long Pasko Fiesta sa Dabaw is celebrated. San Pedro, Chinatown and different Davao districts (such as Bunawan, Marilog and Calinan, where events are held, district level) are getting festive as well.
As families and friends go to the People’s Park, they should expect to see different activities and performances, making the night merry. In case you want to know what exactly those activities are, here’s the list: Agdao Violin Institute (December 4), Evening Performances (December 5), GMA Paskong Kapuso (December 11), Evening Performances (December 12), UP Mindanao Parolan (December 17), ABS CBN Kapamilya Pasko Na (December 18), Smart Christmas Carolling Contest (December 16), GMA Paskong Kapuso (December 19), Evening Performances (December 24), Evening Performances (December 25);
Evening Performances (December 31), Evening Performances (January 1), and Evening Performances (January 2). Other than that, some event highlights are: Dasig Sayaw Cheerdance Competition (December 20), Rondalsaya sa Kalsada (December 21), Baktas Karakas Marching Band Competition (December 22), and Lamdag Parada Lighted Christmas Float Parade (December 23).
Mr. Oscar Casaysay, coordinator of the Pasko Fiesta in the People’s Park shares that Pasko Fiesta sa Dabaw is an event that does not merely speak of abundance in the city, but also as a celebration of being Filipino. It upholds the bayanihan spirit, where different sectors are organized, simply to bring the Christmas air, he said. In some ways, don’t you think it’s amazing? Although we love to flaunt the best of our creative side during events such as the Kadayawan, we find some side of relief from the clamor of competitive marketing during Pasko sa Fiesta.
Different booths greet the eyes of people as they enter the park. The entrepreneurs here provide the choice for people to not spend much to be satisfied with their park stroll. The vendors permitted are well-oriented, such as on the proper handling of food. For about twenty pesos, you can already satisfy your hunger with such foods as kwek-kwek, peanuts and buko juice. Toys, where the most attractive ones are those that colorfully flash in the dark, are sold at P40 to P50. Accessories such as lucky charms, beaded bags and jewelry can be found as well. With all these in sight, families and friends can already enjoy even if they have not reached the entrance of the park itself.
Other than the small entrepreneurs, large companies such as Coca Cola, Virginia Foods and San Miguel Beer also came to chip in, partly sponsoring the event. And with the different groups that come to perform, not to mention the tight security well-implemented by our police, in some sense it is “bayanihan”.
Pasko Fiesta sa Dabaw, the concept behind this town gathering, has been going on for seven years. The event’s dates used to be celebrated according to the traditional nine-day simbang gabi or dawn masses, then according to the song “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and now, for the first time, it’s a month-long celebration. Pasko Fiesta showcases the artistic side of the Davaoenos, with their traditional ways of celebrating Christmas. That explains why the songs played in People’s Park during this time are mostly Christmas songs and Filipino songs, although requested ones are at times played. Such songs continue to be played as the new interactive fountain in the park start to dance by 7:30 p.m.
Asked about the people’s response to the happenings in People’s Park, Mr. Casaysay shared that the number of people coming here every night has been consistent. Some would even request that the six to eight p.m. performances in the park be extended, although he explained that the performers and coordinators also need to rest.
After the night’s onstage performances, families and friends can still look forward to the dancing fountains for another hour. People gather around as they watch and take pictures of this new fountain that moves with the music, displaying colorful lights. That indeed, is a good way to end a night of strolling at the People’s Park in Christmas.