Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home is Where the Heart Is

When people ask me of my descent, I always answer with pride that I am from the best place in the entire Philippine archipelago – Davao City. Then I would give a litany of my self-compiled reasons why my claim to such fame for the city that has become my home and could give the Department of Tourism people a run for their money. But I am not a true-blue Dabawenya. Unlike others who can trace their roots to one place, my family are just migrants to this great city. I was born in Zamboanga City but my father’s work as a banker took us to Durian-burg in 1985. And I was not always a Davao fan. It took a good amount of separation and isolation to gain a different perspective. This is my "Walay Kaparehas" story.


When I graduated from college, I was like most of the idealistic young minds who wanted to show and prove the world I have what it takes to make it big. Fortunately I was immediately hired by the biggest chain of malls in the country as one of its pioneer batch of supervisors for their first mall in Mindanao. Despite that, there was a desire in my heart that was seeking fulfillment  After six months, I summoned enough courage to tell my parents I’m packing my bags to go to Manila because my career growth will move in a snail’s pace if I were to just stay in Davao. I was ecstatic to join a multinational firm as part of their communications team. Finally, I told myself, I can start living the life I always dreamed of.

In Manila, I had the time of my life. I felt this was it! I was walking in high heels along the busy streets of the country’s central business district in Ayala Avenue. I was doing what I thought was my dream job in what I thought was the perfect place for me to make a dent. I would work hard during office hours and party harder come evening. It was my daily routine. I congratulated myself for having the guts to be where I was.


Three months into my new found freedom, I got sick with acute respiratory infection. I reckoned the daily dose of pollution was the main culprit. After the initial self-indulgent period, I often catch myself gazing out my apartment window wishing I was back home in Davao. I burned the phone lines talking to my family and friends, half-admitting that there was still a void. Mommy would always recite to me the famous line, “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it” every time I tell her I want to go home. There were a few times while going around the mall, I would stop after hearing some passers-by talk in Bisaya. I have had the chance to dine at popular places and sampled creations of fine chefs but in a heartbeat I would exchange it for Davao’s sinugba, kinilaw and the hole-in-the-wall eateries that offer their signature dishes to everyone regardless of status. My palate has been introduced to sinful and fancy deserts yet the Dabawenya in me cannot compare the flavour of Durian to any of these. Of course these gastronomic offerings won’t be complete without ice-cold Coca-Cola.  My office mates asked me once to describe Durian to them. I answered – like rotten crème brulee! They all made a face.

I craved for that familiarity but refused to admit it.

During those nights when I was filled with melancholy – sad and lonely, my constant companion was my dear friend Coca-Cola. The refreshing taste of ice cold Coke was always synonymous to happy memories of Davao. I would smile reminiscing how as a little girl, I would save my “baon” from Monday to Thursday so by Friday I have enough to buy an 8oz bottle that I would consume to the last drop. It was my earliest training in delayed gratification. I promised myself that when I get a job, I will make sure to have Coke inside the fridge. During summer vacations and over Coke litro, my best friend Anthony and I laid the foundations of our strong friendship – talking about our crushes at school, what we want to become after college and how at times we wanted to physically torture our younger siblings. I remember how Mommy and I would cook together her recipes then share our finish product with Ton-ton and Dad along with our favorite ice-cold Coke. When I had my fill of the party and action Manila could offer, all that my “probinsyana” heart wanted was to get away from the urban jungle that is Manila and return to Davao.

After I finished my six months probation period, I reluctantly informed my boss that I was no longer staying, that I have decided to go back to Davao. She asked what the problem was because she said I was doing well and that I will already be a regular employee. There were even projects lined up for me to be part of. I told her that Manila may always be teeming with good opportunities but being away from home taught me how much it meant to me and I began to cry. It helped that she herself was from the province and understood what I was trying to drive at. On my last day at work, my team gave me a farewell dinner at the office pantry. They raised their wine glasses and wished me the best. I raised my glass of Coke in gratitude.

When the pilot announced that we are on our final approach to Davao, I could hardly contain my excitement. I looked out the window and saw the aerial view of the city that embraced me and my family since the first time we set foot on it in the mid 80s. With fresh eyes I caught sight of its beauty and splendor, of its promise and never-ending possibilities. I was finally home.

Since that experience, I pursued my passion in development work and helped my city in my little way. Everything fell to its place because I had the chance to work for a foreign-funded education project in Mindanao, the BEAM Project which became my fairy tale job. As an NGO worker, Coca-Cola has been my companion in the far-flung areas of Mindanao to the cacao farms in Indonesia. There is no better way to end the day than to just sit and relax with a glass of Coke – wherever I may be.


I am a Zamboangena by birth but a Dabawenya by heart. Davao City will always be where I discovered who I am and what my values are. Looking back at all my experiences, I can confidently say I will never be the person that I am today if not for the places and faces this beautiful city offered me the past 27 years of my life. Life may take me and my daughter to other paths in the future, we may see a multitude of great sights but Davao is just irreplaceable – it is where the heart is, it is home. Just like the refreshing signature taste and happiness that Coca-Cola brings to all of us.

Nothing replaces life in Davao, nothing replaces Coca-Cola!


How about you guys, what are your Walang Kaparehas moments? 

Comment and share below, would love to read your stories!

47 comments:

  1. Nice post ate lany, too bad i dont have time to savor each line because im too busy studying.. I don't even have time to blog anymore :( miss blogging., but, miss you and leia more. Hehe char. :)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhh... just remember Mae that you will reap the rewards of your hard work in the future, praying for you future MD! and having Coke will help you while studying :)

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. As coffee is to Joel hehehe thanks bro!

      Delete
  3. nakaka-miss talaga ang Davao City, relate ako sa kwento mo! dito ako UAE working pero kahit anu gawin iba pa rin tlaga dyan sa atin. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes definitely true! Davao's really booming, you will be surprised when you get home. take care kabayan!

      Delete
  4. nice ate lans... more blogs pa :) Walang kapareha moments.. moments spent with our loved ones <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Jors, I know you have lots of bonding moments as a family. keep it up!

      Delete
  5. WTG Te Lanz! wala gyud kaparehas ang Hapiness! Ina-Tay + Coke = astang Lamia! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks bro, too bad I'm not into fishes :) take care!

      Delete
  6. nice blog ate lans.. :) walang kapareha moments with our lovedones syempre :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lany could detect or smell if Coke that is being served is fresh out of the plant or has been accumulating cobwebs in some stores' warehouse. She could also tell if restos or food joints post mix syrup and C02 ratio is off or just right

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kuya Rommel, you know her so well noh? Yiiiiiiiiiiii! hahahha!

      Delete
    2. Hi te Lans, Eto na share ko na from my blog na puno na ng cobwebs LOL

      http://vmmp1980.blogspot.com

      WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2008
      Missing my hometown
      It has been two weeks since I got back from my short visit to where the first line of the story of my life was written. Funny how my soul is longing and aching to be there once again when in fact, I survived four straight years without missing the streets, the corners, the scent, the voices and the faces that I have known in my growing years.

      When my plane landed at NAIA, I tried hard so hard to convince myself that coming back to Manila was the appropriate thing to do. I have big responsibilities waiting for me here. I remember getting inside my apartment with a heart heavier than my luggage. I had to finish half a bottle of soju just so I would survive the torments of being away from home. I was like a tree, pulled out from its very roots and sent down to a river with a raging current. I had my unexpected enlightenment during my unplanned visit to Davao but before I could completely embrace my rebirth, I was already back to looking out the window of my apartment to check the traffic in EDSA. This lonely planet hiding behind its colorful and changing lights has learned to accept the cynical, skeptical and jaded woman that I have become during my years of struggle. Will it open its narrow doors to someone who has just been reunited to her youth and innocence? Will it ever understand if I choose to walk slowly to appreciate the changing views or will I be condemned if I stop to watch closely a butterfly showing off her brightly colored wings for the first time? I have been given the standing ovation for running in my heels all the time. What recognition would I get now that I am just learning how to walk? I doubt if it would even take a picture of my first successful step. I wish I could just grab dad’s gentle hands before I stumble or see grandpa’s reassuring smile when I am all covered with bruises. But of course, they are not here to cradle me when I am at my weakest. I am in charge of my life now.

      So how did I survive two weeks of racking nostalgia and frightening but at the same uplifting self-rediscovery?

      I brought home with me.

      Delete
    3. hahaha thank you Mel, you really know me. But whether you're Atenista or Lasalista, Coke is a good equalizer, right?

      Great writing Vi! Come home to Fortune Homes, Lanang, Davao City soon! Kiss your handsome little boy for Leia! hahaha

      Delete
    4. Haha ang Veeya kung maka yiii haha

      Delete
    5. Who knows diba? That "yiiiiiii" may start the new chapter of your story. Hehehe. Cheers to you both!

      Delete
  8. Super love this blog. I can actually relate in so many ways. I'm a Coke addict myself and a Davao Fanatic. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And this comment is all the way from France!!! Thanks Vi!

      Delete
  9. The best part of coming home from a week long travel is that your mom would definitely cook your favorite food with matching ice cold Coca-Cola. :)

    Simple HAPPINESS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Teng, spoken as a true Mommy's Girl!

      Delete
  10. You are one LOYAL Dabawenyang Coke Suuuki, Ate Lany!!! I and the rest can testify!!! DA BEST :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Super Kidong - it's not Lany without Coke in tow :) hehehe

      Delete
  11. nice one ate lany..:) and super nkaka relate ako.. hehehe..:) Davao is still my Home. Kahit na i lived in Cebu for 10 long years, and i confess I'm a coke addict too. Karamay sa lungkot at ligaya..;) Mawala na ang BF wag lang ang Coca Cola.. hehehe..:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ay tama ka dyan Nicole! hahaha I remember the summers you used to spend kanila Nanay, ingat ka dyan lagi!

      Delete
  12. go ate lany. so inspring. how i wish i have this kind of talent in writing. continue on what you're doing ate lany. and yes, coke, without doubt, is forever your favorite!!

    -Kenny C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha thank you Ninang Ken - I envy the Ilocos sand dune photos! I would love to walk in the streets of Vigan soon!

      Delete
  13. Such craving for what's familiar is what keeps us moving. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. very deep, thank you for the love and support kboxing date!

      Delete
  14. Coke junkies unite! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. inuman na tayo? ilabas ang isang kahang Coke litro!!!

      Delete
  15. Coke+Family bonding = KALIPAYONG WALAY KAPAREHAS! Coz happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen to that, you said it right Dervs!

      Delete
  16. so true,,so Lany,,,,that little girl I knew who used to tag along with her mom in our office during those days.....nice writing Lany,,,,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww... thank you Sir Chito! I'm honored by the visit and this comment :)

      Delete
  17. Yes.. even in the cold windy nights and sweet talks in Gensan, you brought Davao in my heart and always with a glass of Coke... whether in laughter or tears :)

    Galing ng article! Sa uulitin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ligaya! Thank you for dropping by. *sigh* Yes, I remember those nights of deep talks and life-changing realizations with you. Thank you for the gift of friendship that helped sustain me in that one-year GenSan experience. I hope to visit soon and catch up. mwah!

      Delete
  18. While I love water, Coke sometimes is a better thirst-quencher.
    Kauli-on nako!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes come home! The development work scene needs your skills and caliber! Thank you for visiting my corner :)

      Delete
  19. Wow nicely written article. I can relate to your experience. Stayed in Manila for 2 years, cried the first week because of the stress and developed nasal allergies because of that stench from the river I had to traverse while riding the MRT. Glad I decided to be back in Davao, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It feels good to be home and be away from the hustle and bustle of Manila despite Davao's occasional floods hehehe Thank you for dropping by Pearl and sharing your thoughts fellow writer! :)

      Delete
  20. True indeed!..walay kaparehas na story and walay kaparehas na happiness with coca-cola!..a true Dabawenya and a coca cola addict:D..i feel you Ms. Lanz..a toast to happiness and more!!..Godbless you pretty mommy!..

    ReplyDelete
  21. Davao is the place to be!and with ice-cold Coca cola??san ka pa??:0..nice article Ms. Lanz..ika nga, "babalik at babalik ka rin.."..more walay kaparehas na story please..:)..see yah!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sige padayon pah.. Pa hubagon nako imong mata.. ayos! Kalami mu inom ug coke sa KADAYAWAN baby!!! Ang coke diri sa Nueva Ecija lasang Pepsi.. Atayaz... Love you Teh!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Ate lannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnsssssssss..hehehe..dropping by to you blog blog. Good job!! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am a Coke certified addict :)

    ReplyDelete