DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 February) – Meong Cabarde dropped by yesterday to invite me to speak at the annual forum to commemorate Women’s Day. This year, the gender advocates at school wish to focus on the role of women in building resilient communities, as a response to the increasing floods, landslides, earthquakes, and other natural disaster disasters signaling the end of the world as we know it.

I hope people would show up to the forum to hear me this year. I’d hate to be all dressed up with no place to go like I was last year when students had too much to do to bother showing up for the forum on… gee- I forgot what I would have talked about. Never mind. Any given time, I’d really like to talk about how women experience this world, even if my take would rate a resounding no comment from those who couldn’t care less. Be there, okay? Safer to be where I’ll be than to be out there on the road, I tell you.

But even as we engage the issue of natural disasters, no less alarming is that other disaster lying in wait for us, escalating its deadly force and homing in to victimize the women and girls in the city of Davao. Our former dean was mugged yesterday while walking home at mid-morning. A young girl from Puan was rushed to the hospital two blocks down from home, shot in the midsection by gun-wielding, bike-riding hooligans as they carted away her mom’s handbag. Five other cases yesterday told of women and girls robbed and shot out there on the streets of this town.

I had an inkling of this brewing three weeks back when Doc O was held up at gunpoint in front of her gate while waiting for her help to open the lock and let her in. It was a good thing she readily gave up her handbag to the gunman’s visibly pumped up accomplice. Doc O did not have to subject her attackers to a mental status exam to see that they meant business. To their credit, they were readily pacified by her mandatory show of fear; they immediately rushed back to their bike with their loot and sped off. Doc O lost her phones, credit cards and IDs to the thieves. Today, whoever texts Doc O on her stolen phone is likely to get a rude reply.

In the wake of the muggings, I pity the anti-EJK activists for the bashing they’re getting on Facebook. It’s almost as if Davaoeños want the DDS back.

Liane, my 18-year-old daughter, opines that maybe it is the DDS. Or at least those people responsible for the extrajudicial killings attributed to the DDS. Hypothetically, she says, if contracts to execute suspected petty thieves and drug runners are not coming out now because of public pressure, that leaves this city with contractors who still have the tools of trade and no willing buyer. They might just decide to go into business for themselves. Like, duh, you don’t have to go to school to learn entrepreneurship. Some of the world’s most successful tycoons just went on and did it.

Somehow, I’m too tired to argue with Liane. This, after all, is her world. She gets to define it how she wants. Whatever makes sense to her is fine, because at this point it just doesn’t make sense to me. I tried to do my part to make it a safe world for her, but I guess it never was that.

As I write this, Ate Lani texts to report that a student was held up at knife point tonight on that walk fronting the Jesuit House where I usually go to sneak a smoke. It usually is dark out there when that gate leading to the University Chapel closes. I wonder if putting a light out there would make a difference when by-way robbery has been known to happen just when women and girls leave home in the morning or come home in time for lunch.

Please don’t ask me what the military plans to do about this. For the last time, crime is a police matter. Law enforcement is a police matter. We surely do not want a Davao City that is a militarized zone, do we? Not after we put up a big banner that called the troops berdugo. Really, now. You want someone to serve and protect, call the police.

At the rate the muggings are happening, our 3,000-strong police force must be run ragged trying to keep all 1.4 million of us safe. Man, police work in Davao City is really a growth area. If some guys would just clean up their act, they already have the bikes and the guns they would need to help them earn a modest monthly pay and a decent pension for the rest of their lives. The catch is that it does leave it to the rest of us to think of ways to convince our government officials to allocate the budget that would grant this town more cops on the beat.

I am depressed. Who wouldn’t be when there’s nowhere safe? My neighborhood used to be privileged so that the former mayor lived so close, but now he lives somewhere else. My mother-in-law says he’s still around though. But no, he isn’t the mayor anymore.

Not again till next year.

Somehow that’s beginning to seem like a long time for some people, huh? (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail@mindanews.com. “Send at the risk of a reply,” she says.)