It is about time that a 74-year old city that is also one of the country’s premier cities has its own honest-to-goodness museum. The Davao Museum, or officially Museo Dabawenyo, is just three years old (since 2008) and has yet to truly make its presence felt in the public’s consciousness.
Located along the Pinchon Street (popularly known as the Magallanes Avenue) just by the rotunda, the Museo Dabawenyo is housed in an old two-story building that has undergone various incarnations, such as the former hall of justice and a warehouse for non-functioning government equipment.
Up until Nanay Soling Duterte, a grand matriarch of the city and grandmother of current Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, pushed for an official repository of the city’s rich history.
Upon entry into the museum, one is welcomed by life-sized artwork and a wall that explains theories on the origin of the word Davao. The hall on the first floor showcases the ten tribes indigenous to the Davao Region. Five of these tribes are Islamic, the other five are classified as non-Islamic or pagans. Then there is a feature of a local hero during the Spanish occupation, Datu Bago who led the uprising against the Spanish colonizer Oyanguren. Datu Bago’s heroism has inspired the creation of the Datu Bago Foundation that annually recognizes the sons and daughters of Davao City who have made remarkable contributions in various field and industries. These awardees are then bestowed the Datu Bago honor during the celebration of Araw ng Dabaw.
In another part of this hall, a wax figure of Pres. Manuel Quezon is seen signing a piece of paper which signifies the creation of Davao as a city in October 1936. In March of 1937, the first inauguration of the City was held.
In this same hall, one will see various photographs of how Davao City looked ages ago. Then, the San Pedro Cathedral was just a wooden structure and the City Hall was surrounded by coconut trees.
A photo mural of the first ever mansion built in Davao is also highlighted. Formerly known as the Dacudao Residence, the old mansion is now known as the Locsin Dance School along the Quirino Highway, and the family has maintained it well. One of its daughters, Agnes Locsin, a nationally renowned choreographer, is a Datu Bago Awardee as well.
Photographs and artifacts from war time are also exhibited in this hall. There is even a rusty bomb from the American airplanes on display.
There’s More Upstairs
The second floor of Museo Dabawenyo showcases artworks of the local artists. Paintings, sculptures, fashion designs, poems, music and anything that express the beautiful soul and creativity of the Davaoeno are exhibited to advantage.
There is a Filipiniana gown made of water lilies that was recognized on the fashion runways of Paris; music that celebrates womanhood, and sketches that remind you of dreams.
Mementoes from a time long gone are artfully placed around the hall.
A room on the second floor has also been assigned as a hall of peace. It is a library and meeting room that showcases peace efforts as manifested in photos of international relations and books tackling understanding of conflicts.
As one ends the tour of this Davao Museum, one gets a sense of enrichment that comes from the knowledge of what has brought us to the present time.
Museo Dabawenyo is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 8:30am to 5:30pm. Admission is free.
“The Davao Museum a.k.a Museo Dabawenyo” is written by Vida Valderde.