Text & Photos by Deneb Batucan
BY late August, the people of Davao scurried around their beloved city as they embraced their rich cultural history that has paved the way for this “Festival of Festivals.” The
31st Kadayawan Festival is Davao’s one big celebration of its artistic, cultural and historical heritages. It is a unique festival that puts its 11 ancestral tribes — Iranun, Sama, Bagobo-K’lata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Maguindanaon, Kagan, Matigsalog, Maranao, Ata, Tausug and Ovu Manubo — on a pedestal as they showcase each of their beautiful and one-of-a-kind culture to the modern Davao of today.
Flying via Cebu Pacific, the excitement was paramount. Going around the city, where the Department of Tourism of Davao graciously toured our group, the Kadayawan Festival was a feast for the eyes. From sun up to sun down all week long, the friendly city of Davao has a lineup of activities that highlights the distinct contribution and participation of its Lumad and Moro com
Dula Kadayawan is the ultimate indigenous and Muslim sports fest held at the People’s Park. The 11 tribes compete together and play games like tug of war on barefoot, pana, salopot and other traditional indigenous games.
The 11 ancestral tribes restage their journey through the first Davao settlement along the Davao river as they parade in colorful floats that showcase their bounty of blessings in harvest as well as in arts and culture.
Right after the arrival of all tribes from their river journey in Subang Sinugdanan, all 11 tribes celebrate through a symbolic ritual that consist of their distinct songs and dances. They celebrate solidarity among diversity through a presentation that bursts with their cultural sundry.
Hiyas sa Kadayawan
A beautiful representation of each Lumad and Moro tribe as 11 women compete to become the Festival Gem of Kadayawan—a potential leader, model and official spokesperson of their tribe geared towards uplifting their unique culture and unity. This equally unique pageant has the contestants wearing their traditional garb and presenting skills that are unique to their tribe, bringing pride to their roots.
Indak Indak sa Kadalanan
The focal point of the festival, people are drawn to the streets to witness colorful and theatrical street dancing that is anchored on indigenous tradition or fes
tival celebrations. It is quite a sight to witness these dances and getting into the festival mood of merriment and excitement.
The Kadayawan Festival is truly a festival that loves its own roots. Culture and tradition is the main focus of the festival as it celebrates the unity of its diverse ancestral tribes as the colorful festival looks back and revels at its equally colorful history.