DAVAO CITY, Philippines – People are queueing each night at the Rizal Park, which has been lit up for Christmas, and where city hall has been treating Dabawenyos to free food delights nightly.
“The ice cream is delicious, and it is for free!” said 10-year-old Maynard Bernardo Guantimanos who, along with his parents and four siblings, lined up to get some sorbetes (Filipino ice cream).
The Guantimanos traveled at least four hours from Cotabato City in Central Mindanao to Davao City just to watch the concert of lights at the park and San Pedro Square, and the 3D projection mapping on the city hall’s facade.
The free food was an unexpected bonus for them.
“Aside from the beautiful sights and entertainment, you will get a fill for free,” said 62-year-old Policarpio Cabangtoan, who brought his entire family from nearby Digos City to Rizal Park.
Amused, 24-year-old mother Catherine San Sebastian said: “My problem now is that the kids don’t want to go home anymore. They want to stay longer because of the entertainment and free food.”
Davao’s “Pasko Fiesta 2022” kicked off on December 1, signaling the city’s opening up and return to normalcy after more than two years of lockdowns and other public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The month-long merry-making at the park opened with a bang, showcasing various performances by local talents and guest performers.
At the park just across city hall, the local government has been treating people to free hot porridge, noodle soup, popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream nightly. This will go on throughout December.
After switching on the decorative lights on December 1, Davao Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte told merry-makers at the Rizal Park: “We should all be happy this Christmas. I thank you for following our laws. We all dream of a much better, more peaceful, and more progressive community.”
Every night, the city hall’s facade lights up with 3D projection artworks to the delight of spectators at the San Pedro Square, while choirs take turns in belting out Christmas carols at the city hall grounds.
Local government workers putting on costumes of characters from The Avengers film series are added attractions for the children at the park. – Rappler.com