IN PHOTOS: Kaamulan, a colorful indigenous festival in Bukidnon's highlands

MUSLIM MANOBOS. Indigenous people who have also embraced another faith, like the Muslim Manobos, also participate in the festival.

Kaamulan counts both indigenous and non-indigenous as its participants.

Dinlayan, of indigenous Bukidnon blood herself, said that at first the festival was only participated in by those belonging to the seven ethnic groups. Over time, though, students, teachers, and employees joined in.

“Their consciousness is expanding,” Dinlayan said. “Students and teachers have become more open to and respectful of indigenous peoples, and indigenous peoples have become prouder seeing other people perform their dances.”

VARIED. Over the years, participation in Kaamulan has become more varied, with students, teachers, and employees joining in.

All this participation, though, is with the permission of the respective indigenous communities and their elders. As the indigenous dances are usually sacred, respect and permission to perform them are in fact necessary. Even choreographers are properly oriented on the nature of the dances, and they first show the routine they prepared to the indigenous elders for approval. 

Permission and asking blessing from the spirits and Apu Magbabaya (God) is important to Bukidnon’s indigenous peoples. Before the street dance starts, a pamuhat (ritual) usually offering chickens and coins is always conducted to ask permission to go through with the celebration.

PAMUHAT. Elders of indigenous communities hold a ritual to ask permission to hold the street dance. Photo taken at a previous Kaamulan.

Amid the solemnity and sacredness of the festival, Kaamulan is also a competition. The different municipalities compete for three titles: Best Street Dance, Best Float, and Best Ground Presentation. The floats are usually part of the street dance, and the ground presentation held at the capitol grounds is a performance more extensive than the street dance.

BEST STREET DANCE. Malaybalay, Bukidnonu2019s capital, is the winner for the street dance competition this year.

BEST FLOAT. Lantapan municipality won best in float. Floats are usually made of natural materials, and feature performing musicians on board.

BEST GROUND PRESENTATION. Pangantucan municipality, which features a Manobo wedding among other rituals and dances, was first in ground presentation.

Aside from the street dances and the ground presentations, Kaamulan also has other important performances like the Piniliyapan, a cultural night held before the street dance. This year, the main event was the Ulaging, a Bukidnon epic.

CULTURAL NIGHT. Different groups performed indigenous songs, plays, and dances during the Piniliyapan, a cultural night before the Kaamulan street dance.

EPIC. Ulaging, a Bukidnon epic, features the meeting and marriage of Agyu and Tagyakuwa.

COMMUNITY DANCE. After the performances, the performers started pulling in the audience for a community dance.


Claire Madarang is a writer, researcher, and documenter whose work and wanderlust takes her to adventures like backpacking for seven weeks and exploring remote islands and bustling cities alike. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and epiphanies on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram.


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