Martial Law in Davao City

People ask me what it’s like. It’s hard to explain. I can’t speak for what it’s like for anybody else, of course, and I operate on the periphrases. But here are a couple of things that might give you the flavor of Martial Law here:

I use a backpack for a purse because none of my purses turned out to have a long enough strap for comfort, because I have to have some extra stuff for The Cherub, plus maybe a book to read, and it’s the handiest way to carry groceries at the panlingke (open air market for fruits and veggies). More brick and mortar stores now require me to leave the backpack at the packages area instead of taking it into the store itself. This is a minor inconvenience, and with a modicum of planning, it has become not even that. I have a small handclutch (I think it’s really a make-up bag) which holds my phone and my cash, and pull that out and leave the bulky backpack at the package drop off (like an old coat check place in the movies), saving space in my cart and wear and tear on my back. I’d have to leave the store to change the Cherub in event of an accident anyway. The stores mainly do not have bathrooms (comfort rooms here), they are in the main part of the mall.

There are occasional spot checks of traffic by police officers to check licenses and so forth. Traffic backs up a bit. You’ll notice some motorcycles and trikes (motorcycles with the built on seating to enable them to transport 6 or 7 passengers) pull over or make a u-turn because their registrations aren’t up to date or they don’t have a license, but it’s not a big deal when you live in a culture where punctuality isn’t a huge value anyway.

All the malls, even most stand alone stores (I think basically if the place has air con) will have an armed security guard or two or three at the doors. they check your bags. They might have somebody pat you down a bit- it’s not intrusive, mainly it’s a pat on the small of your back and between your shoulders. I have never had a male officer presume to do this- it only happens when they have lady cops on duty, and then guys go through to be patted down by guys, girls go through the other side to be patted by lady cops. This was true before martial law. The only difference for me is that this happens a bit more frequently, and before, they usually skipped looking inside my bag, and now they usually want to look inside. I prefer that. I was always embarrassed to be waved through without a bag check.

Annd this is my favourite. This is the Philippines. I went to the mall yesterday to do some grocery shopping (all grocery stores are attached to a mall), and to do some reading by myself instead of with the Cherub as my constant appendage. I sat outside a coffee shop (Bluegre’s) and drank a very cold Durian flavored arctic blast coffee drink and read. I was seated where I could watch and listen to the security guards at the mall entrance. There were three, one of them with a k-nine unit. The k-nine was dressed in jeans a t-shirt with his unit on it, the other two guards were in black uniforms, side-arms, handcuffs clipped to back of their belts, boots, very military. I do still love a man in uniform, so I don’t find that a chilling sight at any time. Even if I did… the three guards passed the time in between customers by…. singing pop songs together.

They sounded pretty good, too.

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