MATI CITY — As Davao Oriental ends its hosting of the Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) sports meet today (Friday), it starts the countdown to its 50th founding anniversary.
Today, the province’s 10 towns, one city and 183 barangays will simultaneously hold activities hours before the official launch of the countdown at sundown at the Mati Park and Baywalk in Mati City.
“There will be community services, feeding activities, tree-planting, consultation gatherings and even Zumba,” Karen Lou Deloso, the province’s information officer, said.
“It (activity) will all depend on what the town, city and barangay officials want to do,” Deloso added.
But the bigger event will happen at nighttime when the regional sports event finally ends.
Deloso said after the closing program of the DAVRAA, hundreds of athletes will march from the Mati Sports Complex to the Mati Park and Baywalk.
“It’s like a ‘reversed route,” she said.
When the sports competition opened last Sunday, the elementary and high school athletes from the provinces of Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental and Compostela Valley, and the cities of Davao, Tagum, Mati, Digos, Panabo and Samal, marched from the Baywalk to the Sports Complex.
Davao Oriental used to be part of the bigger Province of Davao, which was divided into three through Republic Act 4867 in 1967.
Covering some 5,679 square kilometers, the province is home to the UNESCO heritage site— the Mt. Hamiguitan in the tri-boundary of Mati, Governor Generoso and San Isidro towns, the majestic Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel town, and Mindanao’s older church in Caraga.
It has become a favorite summer destination of tourists who flock to the Dahican shoreline in Mati for some skimboarding and surfing.
In the past years, the provincial government built structures to support its goal to be a must-go-to place in the region. Under the administration of then Governor Corazon Malanyaon (now a representative in Congress), the provincial government built the park in Pusan Point in Caraga town where one can witness the country’s sunrise. Pusan Point is the country’s eastern most tip.
Malanyaon also had Subangan Museum built to showcase the province’s natural wonders and culture.
And because Mt. Hamiguitan became off limits to mountain climbers after it was declared a heritage site by Unesco, the provincial government made a museum and park at the foot of the mountain range.
Incumbent Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, at the opening of the DAVRAA sports meet, said the “an appropriate springboard for kicking off our activities towards the province’s golden anniversary on July 1.”
On that day, Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur will also be celebrating its founding anniversary,
“Magka-birthday po tayo. It has been 50 years, and through the decades, these three provinces were able to produce five cities: the cities of Davao, Digos, Panabo, Tagum, our very own Mati City, and two new provinces, Compostela Valley and Davao Occidental,” he said.
But Davao Oriental wants to make a big impression by launching the celebration with a 100-day countdown.
As a preview of what’s going to happen days before his province turns 50, Dayanghirang promises a fireworks display, to be witnessed by the DAVRAA athletes, tonight (Friday). By Nico Alconaba/ This article was first published in Inquirer Libre.