Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte delivered this well applauded and much appreciated piece during the 25th ASEAN Tourism Forum Opening Ceremonies last January 17, 2006 at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Convention Hall.
On behalf of the more than 1.4 million diverse people in this largest city in the world, it is my honor and pleasure to welcome you all to Davao City- the Philippines' gateway to Mindanao and to the East ASEAN Growth Area.
Thank you for choosing our city to be the venue of this silver anniversary of the Asean Tourism Forum. You have chosen well because we are extremely proud of our achievements as a cosmopolitan city of Indigenous and Muslim tribes and migrant settlers from all over the world.
Truth be told, we have not really consciously promoted Davao City as a tourist destination until now, when you insisted that we should come out into the world and share our own wealth of wonders. This reluctance to open to outsiders is probably due to OUR HISTORY OF STRUGGLE AGAINST THE IMPERIALISTIC AGENDA OF OUR WESTERN COLONIZERS AND EVEN OF OUR OWN MANILA-CENTRIC NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. We are wary of foreigners who come and visit because BEFORE ONE CONQUERS AND EXPLOITS A PLACE, ONE FIRST VISITS IT AS A TOURIST. SO WE CAN NEVER BE SURE.
But, perhaps, Davao is too beautiful to remain a secret for long. People who come here could not stop telling others about it and some of them even stay here for good. YOU ARE ALL WELCOME, OF COURSE. BUT YOU CAN ONLY DO SO ON OUR TERMS. WE WILL NOT CHANGE THE WAY WE ARE JUST TO PLEASE OUR TOURISTS. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET. AFTER ALL, ISN'T THE POINT OF TRAVEL THE ADVENTURE OF DISCOVERING NEW PLACES, MEETING NEW PEOPLE, AND EXPERIENCING OTHER WAYS OF LIFE?
Davao's unique offering to the world is our diversity of peoples, cultures, and nature and how all of these interconnect and mix to create a truly cosmopolitan city. We are home to majority of the indigenous tribes found only in this part of the world and to a vast variety of flora and fauna. We enjoy an environment that is embracing and tolerant of diverse thinking and lifestyles, where no one group or idea dominating over the others. So the kind of tourists we want to visit us are those who appreciate diversity and who wish to be enriched by our varied cultures, who have respect for our people's rights and welfare. We want only those who wish to bring us peace and no harm.
Of course, the NEGATIVE TRAVEL ADVISORY AGAINST US IS CANTED AND SELF-SERVING. There is POLITICS IN TOURISM, after all. If we look at the COUNTRIES THAT ARE FOND OF LABELING US AS HAVING "SECURITY PROBLEMS", THESE ARE ACTUALLY THE VERY SAME COUNTRIES THAT INVADE AND CONQUER OTHER COUNTRIES, WAGE UNJUST WARS, AND INCIDENTALLY, CONTROL THE GLOBAL TOURISM INDUSTRY. So we should not accept that as a matter of fact, but view it as part of a larger political context. Being hypocritical and discriminating against poorer ad smaller destinations like us is probably their tourism strategy. Because HOW ELSE CAN THEY COMPETE AGAINST EXOTIC AND CULTURALLY RICH ASIAN DESTINATIONS?
If I may be allowed to share Davao's tourism strategy, it can be summed up with this - TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN PEOPLE, REMAIN UNCONQUERED, ASSERT YOUR INDEPENDENT SPIRIT, MAINTAIN AND ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY, ENSURE JUST IMPLEMENTATION OF LAW AND ORDER, AND IGNORE TRAVEL ADVISORIES ISSUED BY ILL-ADVISED EMBASSIES. WE WILL TELL YOU OURSELVES IF WE ARE NOT READY FOR YOUR VISIT.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Most Livable Philippine City in Asia! We will take good care of you the way we do our own.