Fruits, flowers, food: Davao celebrates 30th Kadayawan Festival
MANILA, Philippines – If you happen to be in Davao City in the month of August, particularly during the third week, don’t be surprised if all the malls, stores, and restaurants are full of people. It’s the time of the year when people flock to the city to celebrate Kadayawan sa Dabaw.
The celebration reminds you of Thanksgiving Day, one of the most anticipated holidays in the United States. All of the malls are offering almost items on sale. Most of the hotels are packed as they are offering promotional packages.
The streets are smelly as durian, the controversial king of fruits, can be eaten anywhere, anytime. But durian is not the only fruit you can have during the festivity, which is celebrated for one week. Other fruits available during the time are mangosteen, rambutan, lanzones, marang and pomelo.
Kadayawan is derived from the Mandaya word madayaw, which means “good, valuable, superior or beautiful.” The festival is structured as “the celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.”
As Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III puts it: “I believe Kadayawan, as a festival of thanksgiving, allows us to be grateful for our blessings as a people in a bountiful land. It gives us an opportunity to appreciate how nature can reward us if we take good care of it.”
The festivity actually started in the 1970s, when then Mayor Elias B. Lopez initiated tribal festivals featuring the lumad (native) and the Muslim tribes of Davao City where they showcase their dances and rituals of thanksgiving. It was then called “Apo Duwaling,” in honor of the three royalties for which Davao is famous for: Mount Apo, durian and waling-waling.
At one time, the festival’s annual theme was “Ten Tribes, One Vibe.” Later, however, it was discovered that there were actually 11 tribes, namely: Iranun, Sama, Bagobo-Klata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Maguindanaon, Kagan, Matigsalog, Maranao, Ata, Tausug and Ova Manubo.
As the celebration focuses on these tribes, a lot of events are showcasing their cultures and beliefs. One of the highlights is the selection of Hiyas ng Kadayawan. Unlike beauty contests, this is a quest for the young woman who understands her culture and traditions, according to Davao City Council Al Ryan Alejandre, chair of this year’s festival executive committee.
All 11 tribes were represented. Flormea D. Manyawron, from Ata tribe, won the coveted title. Aj Ruth H. Sumandang (Ovo Manubo tribe) was named Hiyas sa Kalambuan (progress) and the Hiyas sa Panaghiusa (unity) went to Michelle G. Ansal of the Bagobo-Klata tribe.
In 1988 Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renamed “Apo Duwaling” to “Kadayawan sa Dabaw.”
This year, other showcase events include Sayaw Mindanao, an indigenous-based dance competition; Tunog Mindanaw, a pop music composition competition that incorporates Mindanaoan indigenous and folk music; and Lumadnong Dula, a Davao tribal sports festival.
Last Saturday, August 22, the most anticipated event took center stage: the Indak-indak sa Kadalanan (street dancing). Contingents from various parts of Mindanao, although most of them were from the city itself, displayed their award-winning choreography – with dancing following the rhythm of their music and sounds, moving together with precise manner, and flashing their colorful costumes and props.
The street dancing started Roxas Avenue and ended up in Rizal Park near the city hall, where all contingents performed their 8-minute so-called showdown. Two other showdown areas, but with only 2-minute performances, were held infront of the Marco Polo Hotel in Claro M. Recto Street, and near Apo View Hotel in Legaspi corner Bonifacio Streets.
“The Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan is wildly popular because of the distinctively Mindanaoan beat and costumes,” one visitor commented. “Several tourists come to Davao to watch hundreds of people dancing with vigor in the streets, clad in their native attire and carrying extravagant props that would give Hollywood studios a serious run for their money.”
According to Lisette Marquez, the City Tourism Operations office head, this year’s street dancing competition had only one category: open category. This means that Davao City contingents had to compete with those from other areas beyond the city.
The Cabantian National High School of Davao City managed to win the coveted grand champion among the 15 contingents and brought home the P500,000 cash prize.
The other winners were from South Cotabato: Sto. Nino National High School Kalingawan Dance Troup (first runner up, P4000,000) and Polomolok Performance Arts Guild (third runner up, P100,000).
Last year’s grand winner, Mati City, Davao Oriental, this time represented by Dawan National High School, went home as second runner up (P300,000) while the Municipality of Banganga, also from Davao Oriental, settled for fourth runner-up (P50,000).
If Kadayawan started with a big celebration, it ended with an equally, maybe even more enthralling, ending in the form of Pamulak Kadayawan. It was a sight to behold as 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 promenade on the streets symbolizing all the bounty sustainably enjoyed by the city’s residents.
“This is indeed an important milestone for the festival,” replied Marquez about the celebration this year. “Having reached 3 decades celebrating a festival like Kadayawan is no easy feat. It is a clear reflection of the ethos of a Dabawenyo... that amidst modern society and innovation, we do not forget our roots and we thank our Creator for the bounties that abound here in Davao. – Rappler.com
All photos by Henrylito D. Tacio/Rappler
Henrylito D. Tacio is an award-winning journalist based in the southern part of the Philippines. He specializes on reporting science, environment, medicine, agriculture, and travel features.