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Davao City is rich in both culture and history . Davao History started from the legacies of brave and proud indigenous tribes of Ovu Manuvu , K’lata , Matigsalog , Bagobo , Ata Manuvu , Kalagan/Kagan , Sama , Tausug , Maranao and Maguindanao.
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According to Davao Historians the word davao came from the phonetic blending of the word of three Bagobo subgroups when referring to Davao River. The aboriginal Obos who inhabit the hinterlands of the region called the river, Davoh; the Clatta or Guiangans called it Duhwow, or Davau, and the Tagabawa Bagobos, Dabu. To the Obos, the word davoh also means a place “beyond the high grounds“, alluding to the settlements located at the mouth of Davao River which were surrounded by high rolling hills. When asked where they were going, the usual reply is davoh, while pointing towards the direction of the town. Duhwow also refers to a trading settlement where they barter their forest goods in exchange for salt or other commodities.
The Spaniards are the first non-natives to visit Davao. Led by Alvaro de Saavedra they arrived in the region in 1528. Spanish troops during that time slayed the Moro leader named Datu Bago in 1847 which is considered a local hero who protected Davao from foreign invaders. After the death of Datu Bago , Don Jose Oyanguren became the first governor of the undivided Davao province and he renamed the place Nueva Guipuzcoa.
Way before World War ll, Dabawenyos had amicable relations with Japanese. In 1900, a group of Japanese established extensive plantations of abaca around the gulf area and was engaged in logging, fishing and trading. The increase of Japanese residents earned Davao the title Japan kuo or “Little Japan.”
Davao finally became a city in October 16, 1936 when President Manuel Quezon signed Commonwealth Act No. 51, also known as the Charter of the City of Davao.
On December 8, 1941 Japanese planes bombed the city. Japanese occupation started in 1942.
In 1945, American and the Philippine Commonwealth forces liberated Davao City from Japanese forces. The longest and bloodiest battle during the Philippine Liberation occurred in the city; it was during the time of Battle of Mindanao. World War II brought much destruction to the new city and many setbacks to the earlier economic and physical strides made prior to the Japanese occupation. Davao was among the earliest to be occupied by the invading Japanese Forces, and they immediately fortified the city as the bastion of Japanese defense. It was subjected to constant bombing by the returning forces of Gen. MacArthur, long before the American Liberation Forces landed in Leyte in October 1944. Although heavy damage was inflicted on Davao , after the war the city still continued on its economic growth. And up until now Davao City still grows economically.
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