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Saturday, September 23, 2023


by Klaus Döring

When we arrived in Davao, we were amazed. Our house looked almost finished from the outside. But there was still a lot to do inside. The greeting was exuberant. We lay in each other’s arms and cried for joy. 

Rossana’s brothers Archie and Ricardo had taken over the building supervision last year. They had already lived on the property with their families and had also laid out the small garden. A small swimming pool was there and my greatest wish had come true: dogs.

Everything seemed perfect down to the last. We lived wall to wall with our American Ninong Maurice and his Filipina wife, our Ninang Alicia. They had bought the property right next to us already in 1959.

In the next few days and weeks there was a lot for us to do. Unpacking suitcases, arranging the interior fittings and doing paperwork after paperwork. Rossana, my mother and I hardly got time to think about Germany. Homesickness did not arise. Not yet.

Rossana was especially busy sorting out the dance group costumes from Berlin. Maybe there will be another chance to perform in Davao City as a New Manisan Cultural  Dance Troupe? Well, that should become reality faster than we thought. I thought about my music library and several thousand books. 

And then events rolled over! One telephone call from the Davao City Port Customs Office in particular kept us in suspense. Our knees shook.

At the end: no problems with our containers.

A big hello sounded. GMA-TV director Bam Salavani recognized Rossana immediately. Then schoolmate and host Onnie Alfaro. “What are you doing here in Davao? Are you on vacation?” Questions about questions from all sides stormed us. “After the short commercial break, you are part of the show”, called Bam Salvani. And so we were German guests on this TV show for the first time. During the following years we became an integral part of the show.

 “Testigo” and “Singgit Davao” were re-launched and were taken under the wing of GMA News & Public Affairs and GMA Entertainment TV Group respectively. In August of the same year, “Singgit Davao” was relaunched as “Kuyaw!” in time for the Kadayawan Festival.  Just to mention some: other hosts were Eureka, Emily Urgino and Al Ryan Alejandre – later City Councilor of Davao City.

I felt very much at home with the radio, newspapers and television. Mindanao Times Lifestyle writer Josie San Pedro had mentioned my mother, Rossana and me in her column “passages” during the great event “Singgit Davao at two”  – the stepping stone for our future. I must confess, not all expats in the Philippines went the same or similar path as me.

For the first years I liked to take a jeepney. I found it interesting to get to know a lot of people while driving. And, step by step, I learned Bisaya. Nevertheless, one day a VW-beetle from the Archdiocese parked in our garden. A little old but he drove. We called him affectionalle “Knatterton”. But it really never cracked.

I started writing lifestyle columns. The International Harvardian University (IHU) Grand Alumni Homecoming was a special event. It was at the same time the rebirth of the IHU – Manisan Dancegroup. The dream of the old and new lead dancer Rossana had come true. It was at the event that I met Rodrigo Duterte for the first time – then Vice Mayor of Davao City.

But then, suddenly out of the blue, the culture shock awoke. Being on vacation in the Philippines is different from everyday life. I couldn’t adjust myself especially to “Philippine Time”. And many other things followed. 

(To be continued!)

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