By Cha Monforte
A hadji’s view on urban renewal of Isla Verde
The contiguous slums in the largely Islamic Isla Verde and Mini Forest area can be renewed despite its clogged-up residential milieu. It is so that for years and decades the seashore and riparian areas of Davao City’s Boulevard have been settled and trekked on by in-migrant population that make the areas a squatter colony. Pardon the use of the word squatter. That’s only for the description purposes, and not to resurrect the repealed law criminalizing squatting in one’s homeland
Anyway, in the barangay election October last year I got a chance to meet a hadji, an ukay-ukay vendor, who ran but lost in the polls in Barangay 23-C, one of the central business district’s slums that was recently gutted down by a big fire that begot a big headache of the City Hall. But he’s got one good vision for the contiguous slum colony. In his campaign, he cast a vision of converting Isla Verde and its vicinity a world-class place, “where peace and order, cleanliness, hygiene, livelihood and development thrive and the strong unity and brotherhood of people from 15 tribes and Christians is proudly shown to the world.” He is bapa Hadji Rauf Paca, also a die-hard fan of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Barangay 23-C is located in the central coastside of the Davao City’s poblacion. It’s just near to the city’s Chinatown in Uyanguren, Monteverde, Boulevard areas. It hosts the known Mini Forest and the mosque. It especially has an “island” called Isla Verde, whose population is about 75-percent Muslims of varied tribes and some integrated Christians.
The “island” is actually a small semi-submerged peninsula at Boulevard area inhabited by an above-sea water makeshift community. It has some parts that remain to show earth even at high tide. The whole barangay has some 15,000 population, while Isla Verde has around 200 houses. Fortunately, the Isla was spared by the fire inferno. But it was crept on by the fire.
The hadli envisioned to see Isla Verde arising as a developed multi-tribal community with seawall, round baywalk complete with lighting and rest benches and shades, encircling roadway, improved interior road network, street lights, concrete entrance and exit, and heightened by fillings, a “unique place where tourists are attracted to come, relax and see.”
“Our barangay is home of people from 15 tribes such as Maranaos, Tausugs, Magindanaos, Samas, Yakans, Badjaos, other Moro tribes, indigenous people and the Christians,” he added. The barangay is a melting pot of people of various tribes, and for Hadji Paca, “what is urgently needed is a non-discriminating leader with control and political will like Mayor Duterte.”
Hadji Paca has his ukay-ukay tienda located along Uyanguren Street. He has been sustaining his family through peddling, which he said is a decent source of living that helps a lot of his Muslim brothers and sisters as well as the Christians doing the same trade. How he profusely thanked Mayor Duterte for extending them tolerance and understanding for them to earn a living.
Who knows urban renewal of the slums in the Mini Forest and Isla Verde would start from the three slums recently gutted by fire? The horizontal spread of housing development for the onsite relocation of the fire victims can’t accommodate anymore their big number. Congestion there, before the fire, was also characterized by multi-story wooden and semi-concrete housing, with least open spaces and narrow alleys, besides the abundance of fire-hazard makeshifts.
For the areas to have urban renewal, medium-rise resettlement housing awaits as the alternative. Who knows development grants from Muslim countries can be accessed to fund a medium or high-rise resettlement condo for the 15 tribes and Christians to rise from the burned areas, and later in Isla Verde?
Once done all throughout the vicinity of Isla Verde, Mini Forest and Boulevard, we’ll see Davao City’s own modern Muslim facet uniquely integrated in the city’s wholesome development, welcoming all people from all walks of life and showing a close embrace of Muslim and Christian brotherhood and unity. (follow @chamonforte, @ruralurbanews)
column to various newspapers (in Mindanao, natl)