This is the place where I grew up. I live here for more than 30 years. I have so many memories here, good and bad, but most are good because it’s the place where I can find true friends, my childhood friends.
Monte Maria Village is located at Barangay Catalunan Grande in Davao City. It has 9 blocks namely Paseo Del Carmen, Avenida Soriano, Narra, Mahogany, Camagong, Molave, Acacia, Dau and Yakal. Most of these streets are named after the Philippine trees because Monte in Spanish means a mount, or simply a mountain, a Philippine mountain where you can find these trees. Maria is probably derived from the mother of Jesus, Virgin Mary, or in Filipino, Birheng Maria.
The location in Catalunan Grande is in fact mounted, up in a hill-like place. Some 200 meters above sea level. There is a subdivision, which was built before Monte Maria, called Skyline. Such villages named on top the places here at Catalunan Grande.
I live at Molave Street, just a fifth block from the entrance and 2nd to the last street to the exit. Our house-my parent’s house-is second to the last house at the left side of the Street. There are no Molave trees here, just a few coconut, mango and rambutan trees.
Most people here, the old settlers (homeowners) don’t live here anymore. Some have migrated to the land of the free. Others have found their way to good lives as though they have escaped abandonment.
Just as the old homeowners migrated to different countries, foreigners settle themselves here in Monte Maria. They are Americans, Germans, British, Japanese and Koreans. An irony to the Filipino diaspora phenomenon.
But to me Monte Maria is a haven, a last refuge when things get wrong in the way. There’s no place like home, as we always say. I suppose this is what happens to most people when they’re in trouble. They always find their way back home.
Some found their way back home. Others remained even they didn’t choose to. Well, I don’t call it fate. In my case, as I said, it’s a refuge. A safe place away from the troubles of the world. Away from reality. Away from the evils of the world.
My friends and I call ourselves the Monte Boys. What else to call? We all live here. We all share the same passion, same hobbies (or habits). We all loved to steal rambutans and lumboys as kids. We all loved Sweet Child O’ Mine by the Guns and Roses as adolescents. We all loved to share our inner thoughts on drunken hours as adults. We talk about the things we love and share the same opinions in everyday lives.
We are barkadas, in layman’s term. Some neighbors call it a cult. Easy for mediocre people to say because we don’t usually go to mass or we don’t spend most of our Sundays with our families. But we already are a family. A family which give a reason for wives and girlfriends to be resentful.
Most “Barkadas” in a cultural Filipino term, is a companionship oftentimes associated with booze and drugs. Ours is more than that.
The Monte Boys have built a culture that allowed us to exist in a real world where the truth seem to be cloaked away from our conscious minds. Our group never refuses us, it doesn’t restrict us. It creates a sanctuary where we want to belong; away from domestic troubles; away from a world full of deceit and corruption. We created a world where our own conspiracy theories became facts.
We are more like barkadas. We are the wise guys, just like the guys in the movie Good Fellas. We sometimes had this fantasy that we are the gangsters in the movies, the good gangsters who beat up the bad guys.
Living here for a long time we consider it as a blessing. We don’t want to be like the people on the outside world, trying to conform to the standards conditioned to them by the society, successful people who are righteous to many and spiteful to the few. Few ones who know the real truth.
Nevertheless, for some who are gone and reached their dreams, we are proud of them, for they had made their hometown as part of their lives.
For us Monte Maria is our own little world. We can live here forever. Like a prison, a place where prisoners have lived most of their lives: a world they get used to it.