The Philippine festival calendar is never empty. Each region, province, city and municipality has its own unique festival to celebrate.
While those festivals are a hodgepodge of commercial activities, it’s undeniable that they also put arts and culture at the center of the revelry.
Perhaps, among the country’s most notable celebration is the Kadayawan Festival, which has become the center of Filipino celebration that it has been extended to a whole-month affair.
The success of this annual fete, according to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, will only be realized once people actually “come together” to shape the history, present and future of the city.
“We celebrate it annually not just to give Dabawenyos a reason to celebrate. We do it so we do not forget where we came from and what blessings we have received through the years, blessings which we continue to receive today,” Mayor Duterte said.
In his speech at the closing of the “Pamuyak sa Kadayawan” yesterday, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte also encouraged local city officials to be more responsive to the people’s need even after the month-long festival.
The Vice Mayor particularly said the Davao government should continue to push for the realization of Goal 15 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that aims to preserve forests, fight desertification, stop and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Bountiful harvest celebrated
“Kadayawan sa Dabaw” is an annual thanksgiving harvest festival. Usually held every third week of August, the fiesta celebrates the bounty of fruits, flowers and farm produce and the showcase of Lumad traditions that are still practiced in the city.
This year marked the start of the month-long celebration to give Dabawenyos and visitors a different experience and lure even more enthusiasts.
The local government of Davao decided to spread the festival’s cheers during all weekends in August.
“Unlike the previous years that we put all the events in one week, we will spread it out for the entire weekends of August,” City Tourism officer Gene Rose Tecson said.
Spreading the events throughout the month hopes to give more people a chance to enjoy the annual event.
“There were a lot of people who had wished to visit the city for the Kadayawan Festival, but they weren’t able to come because our hotels and other accommodations were fully booked. So, this year, they already spread out throughout the entire month of August,” Tecson added.
This year, the Kadayawan focused on the “Bantawan” or cultural shows featuring the traditions and dances of the 11 tribes — the Sama, Ata, Maguindanaoan, Klata-Guiangan, Iranun, Tausug, Tagabawa, Maranao, Matigsalog, Kagan and Ovu-Manuvo.
On the other hand, “Dula Kadayawan” showcased tribal games, which helped strengthen the relationship of different tribes living in harmony in Davao City.
As the highpoint for Kadayawan, the 11 tribes of Davao played a major role in the success of the event as they continued to support the city and the community.
The “Indak-Indak” and “Pamuyak sa Kadayawan” are also two of the festival highlights that locals and tourists keep coming back for.
For instance, Anthony Moore, 41, has been in and out of the city for three years now just to witness the Kadayawan Festival. As someone who has only been in the city during special occasions, he sees the Kadayawan Festival as a “reminder of Davao’s past,” which gives a glimpse of its rich cultural heritage.
The “Indak-Indak” displayed the Dabawenyos’ gracious choreography, with dancing following the rhythm of their music. Artists who performed the dance moved in precision as they flashed their vibrant costumes.
Meanwhile, the “Pamulak Kadayawan” or floral float parade provided the finale for the festivity. It is patterned after the Pasadena Parade of Roses in the United States, where flowers and fruits are set in colorful floats by business establishments, community assemblies and peoples’ organizations as they march on the streets symbolizing all the bounty of the city’s residents.
According to the Davao City government, a crowd of an estimated 250,000 participants filled the city’s main roads to witness the performance of every contingent despite the scorching heat of the sun, far from the 50,000 participants last year.
The whole festival has an estimated budget of P70 million, most of which came from private sector partners. The Dabawenyos really went all out this time to celebrate a bigger festival to guarantee comfort in the coming year, believing that the bigger they spend, the more return they will obtain.
Lumads, Muslims and Christians were encouraged to go out not just to savor the unique tradition of the city but to use the Kadayawan Festival so that they could continue to learn about each other and appreciate both the uniqueness and similarity of each culture. After all, the success of the festival goes beyond attracting tourists and celebrate the blessings poured out to the city.
There’s always a lot of fiestas to go to in every corner of the Philippines but the Kadayawan Festival should be something one should not miss out.
You can call Davao many things, but the fact that this city stood and continues to withstand modern innovations without forgetting about its ancestral roots is a proof of its high regard of traditions, culture and heritage.