BECOMING A DABAWENYO: The Challenge of Technology

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 July) — I am Keisuke Nakao, 38 years old. I was born in Kagoshima, Japan which is a fisherman’s village which we can geographically liken to Zamboanga here in the Philippines.

I have been living in Davao City since 2003 and have been staying for 17 years as of today. My family runs a food manufacturing business in Japan almost 140 years. Most of the raw materials were imported from China at that time. We had worries if we could not get raw materials from China due to conflict of country and at the same time, we were looking for assurance of the food quality and safety to our consumers, we should build our own sourcing plant near the origin.

Therefore, we started to look for a place to station. There were several choices of countries to invest in like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Running our medium-scale company, we as management stand as father to employees, and our company would house the employees. Because of that, we had to choose between Philippines and New Zealand as both countries speak English.

When we come here in Philippines, particularly Davao, we were shocked with the number of children we saw on the street and their energy and power for life! At the onset, we decided to be here to invest, stay and spend our life to serve. It was not easy to start since I could not speak English, I had a hard time reading and understanding the language too.

I made effort to “communicate” to the locals. My first step to become member in the society: I used to walk along the streets, carrying a long-neck Tanduay bottle to look for a person who is drinking outside of their house. True enough, there is nothing better than actual experience. I learned English/Tagalog/Visaya and the language mix in a short period for simple communication without knowing which Language that word belongs to.  Those were the days when I started my life as part of the Dabawenyo society. And until now, I’m still gaining a lot of friends and share experiences with them. These experiences made myself now.

Experiencing almost two months of quarantine from Community Quarantine to Enhanced Community Quarantine to General Community Quarantine due to COVID-19, our society is quick to utilizing more internet technology via mobile phone and computer. We “Stay-at-home” but, we can still connect to the society to continue the life you have. I remember when I first came here to Davao way back in 2003, few of us had Internet connection or own mobile phones or PC. If one wanted to take a photo or video, one needs a camera for it.

However, now with the evolution of technology, many of us afford to have mobile phones which can take photos or videos, search information, order the goods and foods, call and book the transportation or hotels, and communicate and exchange the information on time with video all with only the cost of connecting to the internet. And very recently, it is being extended to education online and no longer limited to call and text.

Seemingly, the distance between others has been reduced significantly and we see each other more often. However still, I’m doubting if do we know how to use and/or deal these tools properly? “Are we getting really what we want through this technology?” to get connected with this society.

One of the examples is when one wants to express opinions, or thoughts, and arts to yourself and to others. Before, we were provided with proper venues which fit to your capabilities and responsibilities. Gradually, this moves forward to bigger venues to relate and communicate others. But, nowadays, you can be an instant celebrity via Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter and other social network services.

While this could be an opportunity to step up to a success story one may want, sometime this could cause so much hurts to material assets and social relation in real world. Worse, we heard of many horror stories related with the internet that led to suicide. Technology was developed for our life to be better but why has it now become a challenge to live with it? Because, we are not experienced much and we are not educated enough about the implications of these tools.

In real world, if we are experienced enough, responsibility and power and authority should be tantamount to each other. Before you are given the responsibility, it should also be assessed if you have capability to use power too. Do we go by this principle as we use the internet (which translates to power)?

In the real world, when we get into a physical fight or verbal fight, we know how painful it is. We even need time to recover from the fight. So then, we can empathize with how the others feel through your experience. Are we able to apply it on the internet world where we are cut off from others physically?

When we are bashed in the real world, there varied ways to interfere. But social media leaves a room for more aggression without the basic moral required in the real world.

Looking back to history, technology develop for our life to be better and some were used to make our life to be harder. Our parents showed and taught us how to live in the society with morals: not to hurt others and even how to handle powers. If we allow this technology to be part of our society, we should start educating our children to handle it and carefully observe all the time, so that they do not use it in the wrong way.

Good moral can eliminate all the laws, because the laws are made for someone who does not adhere to the social morals. The recent anti-bashing is a good example that shows how people misuse these tools and our society hurts so much from it.

On the other hand, barter communities have developed where you exchange your item to others who needed it. This will grow a good base for us to share little efforts to contribute to the wellness of the whole.

To end, I’d like to say that tools are just tools! Not the target or  goal, or dream, or life. I wish we could use this powerful tool to make our society to be better and full of happiness. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Keisuke Nakao is a Japanese National who runs a food processing export business. He has been staying in Mindanao for 17 years, and he fondly identifies himself as a Dabawenyo or a Mindanawon. Keisuke is a former President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Inc. He can be reached through