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Davao City, Philippines

Immersing in the culture of Davao City’s 11 tribes

August 15, 2019 - Thursday 2:08 PM by Lovely Carillo

Article Banner Image ETHNIC SYMPHONY. Datu Jaime Ipe of the Ovu Manobo tribe plays a flute at the Kadayawan Cultural Village in Magsaysay Park, Davao City. ARJOY M. CENIZA. ARJOU

DAVAO CITY -- The Philippines is a treasure-trove of festivals, with every region celebrating its own patron saint or whatever is abundant in that particular area. Thus, it is not surprising to hear a festival celebrating the beauty of flowers such as the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio and the bounty of the sea such as the Tuna Festival in General Santos City.

While most festivals in the Philippines have religious origins, Kadayawan sa Davao has remained distinct because it is a thanksgiving festival for the bountiful harvest in the city. If you are one of those who have experienced lining up for the all-you-can-eat durian during the festival, then you know how hard it is to visit the city at this time without being subjected to the heavenly smell -- or stench (whichever side of the equation you are in) -- of the king of fruits.

But here’s the twist: Kadayawan does not only refer to the city’s agricultural bounty. As the festival evolved, the organizers have zeroed in on the rich culture of the city’s 11 tribes, namely the Sama, Kagan, Maranao, Maguindanao, Iranun, Tausug, Klata Bagobo, Obo Manobo, Ata, Matigsalug, and Tagabawa.

What makes Kadayawan sa Davao the festival of festivals is its ability to provide a venue where the city’s tri-people unite to produce something beautiful. More than a giant fruit harvest, the festival has become an opportunity to look back on the rich cultural heritage of the city and how it has successfully molded itself as part of the modern Davao.

The Kadayawan Festival has the usual flavors of most festival -- trade fairs, search for a beautiful lass (in this case the Hiyas ng Kadayawan), and the culminating events to cap the festival (the street dancing or Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan and the flower parade or Pamulak).

But what makes it unique and more interesting is the Indigenous Peoples or Kadayawan Village at Magsaysay Park, which provides both locals and visitors the opportunity not just to watch but more importantly to become part of this rich cultural diversity that Davaoeños have become so proud of.

The newly-renovated Kadayawan Village is a showcase of the way of life of the 11 tribes. Visitors can actually visit the traditional houses and engage the IP community. This is a participatory village that showcases the food, dances, clothing, and way of life of the IPs.

Realizing that a week would not be enough to enjoy all that the Kadayawan Festival has to offer, the Festival will now be a month-long celebration. Aside from providing visitors more time to explore the city and enjoy the festivity, it is also an opportunity for the city to cash in on the tourism receipts brought about by the festival.

The Kadayawan Festival has evolved and those who have experienced it during the previous years will agree that from a small and unobtrusive festival, it has become a festival to contend with. And you have to experience it yourself to be able to agree -- or disagree -- with that.