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Cotabato City to hold Shariff Kabunsuan Festival

December 10, 2019 - Tuesday 2:12 PM by MDM

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A four-day festival that highlights Islamic heritage caps a productive year for Cotabato City. From December 15-19, the annual Shariff Kabunsuan (SK) Festival will be celebrated with pomp and pageantry through parades, dancing, business fora, exhibits, and feasts.

Shariff Muhammad Kabunsuan, an Arab missionary from Malaysia, introduced Islam in Mindanao in the 13th century, way before the Spaniards brought Christianity in the Visayas. This makes Islam the country’s oldest-known religion that believes only in one God. 

The festival opens on December 15 with the Guinakit Fluvial Parade. The people assemble at the wharf at 7 a.m. to witness the re-enactment of Shariff Kabunsuan’s arrival at Rio Grande de Mindanao, the island’s second largest river located in Cotabato City. It was said that the Arab missionary rode on a colorful boat called the guinakit. Through the years, it has been the sailing vessel of Muslim royalty. For the parade, the guinakit will be decked with flaglets and vibrant-colored fabrics.

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi will grace the festival opening ceremonies at the City Plaza. The Old City Hall will exhibit artworks by local artists.

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi

At City Mall, the SK Bazaar will feature artisanal products by local entrepreneurs. In the evening, the Banggala Fashion Fair will promote contemporary Muslim fashion that follows Islamic dress codes.

On December 16, the Mini-Guinakit Opening is an exhibit-competition of guinakit models at the People’s Palace Grounds.

For foodies, the Crab Festival at the City Plaza showcases the city’s iconic mud crab through a crab race and culinary demonstration. Patronized for its sweet and rich meat, the mud crab is one of the city’s economic generators. Thus, this event is also a venue for crab growers to meet potential investors.

Patterned after the reality TV show, “Iron Chef,” the Flavors of the ASEAN Culinary Competition, is a contest between chefs and skilled cooks. The tilt challenges their creativity in using local ingredients such as native chicken, goat’s meat, shrimps and fish.

The Qur’an Reading at the People’s Palace presents readers and reciters who have won in national and international competitions.
The morning of December 17 rocks with the Kuyog Street Dancing and Showcase Competition at the City Plaza and at the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC). The dances are themed on the pre-Islamic lifestyle and culture. The festival’s main crowd drawer enlists legions of students and cultural groups not only from the city but also from neighboring provinces. One contingent can have as much as a hundred participants, dressed in stylized costumes.

At the City Plaza, the Colors of Cotabato with SK Music Fest is a motley of songs and dances from various ethno linguistic groups in the city--Maguinanao, Meranaw , Iranon. Bisayas, Cebuano and Ilonggo.

One of the Department of Trade and Industry’s visions is to boost the industry of halal --food prepared according to Islamic laws—and make the country globally competitive. On Dec. 18, the Halal Business Forum at Rebecca’s Café aims to advance the partnership between the private and public sectors.

The DTI will also launch its nationwide program, Negosyo sa Barangay, which trains entrepreneurial skills from business registration, product development, marketing and laws. 

There will also be a Pet Fair with activities for owners and their pets at the People’s Palace grounds. 

The festival will close with a cultural parade at CCSPC and City Plaza and the Grand Pagana, where people commune together while feasting.

Meanwhile the festival has organized other pocket events. Before the festival, there will be a volleyball competition from December 11 to 15. 

Malls and stores will give discounts in the SK Fest Grand Sale. For the Gen Y, the SK Fest Mobile Legends Tournament, a popular e-sport, will be held on December 14-15. 

From December 15 to 31, the Old City Hall will display a cultural exhibit on the story of Datu Pat-I Mata and the Pulangi River. This is a folk tale about a four-eyed Datu who was notorious for his polygamy and disrespect for women. His brother Datu Pula punished him for his excesses by turning him into a river. 

“The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is the city government’s way of thanking the efforts of every Cotabateño who have made our city nationally recognized for its business progress and good governance,” Sayadi said.