Tourism program eyes rebuilding of Davao’s Little Tokyo, boat landing

DAVAO CITY, July 14 (PNA) – The City Tourism Office (CTO) is pushing for the restoration of the remnants and ruins of the once Japanese colony in barangay Mintal, this city, known as “Little Tokyo”, whose blueprint was already submitted for funding approval under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority or TIEZA of the Department of Tourism (DoT).

The DoT has also submitted the plans for the rehabilitation of this city’s old boat landing in Barangay Sasa that will be funded also under TIEZA at Php 25 million.

The boat landing used to cater passengers between Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal.

City Tourism Officer Lisette Marquez said the rebuilding of Davao’s “Little Tokyo” and the Boat Landing will further spur the tourism industry in the city.

She said the “Little Tokyo” project will be part of the tourism circuit and attract more Japanese tourists or Davao’s Japanese descendants who annually come for a pilgrimage every September 1.

Marquez said Davao receives 13,000 Japanese visitors annually, the second biggest tourism arrivals in the city.

Marquez admitted that the area planned for restoration is not in exceptional condition anymore because this is already populated by about 20 families (informal sector), a market that used to be the site of a Japanese hospital and base, an old artesian well (poso). The Japanese monument within a school ground, which time and again targeted by treasure hunters and the old cemetery also need rehab. An old house of the Dacudao family that used to be a hospital, is also eyed as part of the heritage tour.

According to Marquez, Mintal barangay captain Ramon Bargamento has initiated talks with his constituents on the plan.

She said the barangay captain has been the flag bearer of the project with the help of the Japanese Chamber and the Japan Development Council in Davao.

A study by Mintal’s 76 Ayson & Campado Banwa states that Mintal was the focal point of pre-war economic activities of the Japanese to which Davao City attributes its pre-war economic preeminence, earning for it the monicker “Davaokuo” and for Mintal, “The Little Tokyo of the Philippines.”

Mintal is a 600- hectare agricultural land. It used to be a Japanese settlement. According to historians, the Japanese opted to engage in abaca business rather than fighting during the pre-war days. The early Japanese migrants referred to it as Mintaro, thus the name Mintal.

The familiar landmarks of Mintal are the Ohta Monument, a monolith in honor of Ohta Kyosaburo, considered by local historians as the “Father of Davao development.”

Other markers and obelisks of Japanese nationals who died as barangay residents during the war can be seen in and around Mintal, Toril and Calinan. (PNA)