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Davao’s Kadayawan Festival kicks off

By Lilian C. Mellejor, Philippine News Agency

DAVAO CITY, Aug. 15 — The week-long Kadayawan Festival kicked off late Monday afternoon at the People’s Park, highlighting more on the culture, tradition and the plight of the 11 tribes of Davao.

“Kadayawan is all about Davao’s ‘beautiful uniqueness’,” said Chief Information officer Jeffrey Tupas, who is also taking charge of the Kadayawan media blitz.

Photo courtesy of PhilippineTraveler.com

Photo courtesy of PhilippineTraveler.com

Tupas said the celebration of Kadayawan sa Dabaw was not only about thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest but also educating locals and tourists of Davao’s uniqueness.

This year’s festival is offered to the Kalagan or Kagan, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Iranum, Sama- Badjao, Tausog, Tagabawa, Ata, Ovu Manuvos, Matigsalog, and Klata-Guiangan tribes of the city.

“We hope to give meaning to the celebration by looking at the lives of our brothers and sisters, Lumads and Muslim. This celebration is about them and will be for them,” said Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

The Lumads and the Muslims are “the heart and the soul” of Kadayawan, the vice mayor said.


The city is celebrating Kadayawan for 31 years as a festival of bountiful harvest. The month of August starts the harvest season when all fruits abound at low prices.

According to Tupas, Kadayawan sa Dabaw’s bloom, just like the seductive Waling-waling, happened after it went through some dry seasons. The word Kadayawan is derived from the word “dayao” which means good.

Tupas said recent years saw how Kadayawan Festival became at a time when everything in the city is displayed and shared ostentatiously: flowers, fruits, food, the colors, the music, and the art. “This is the time where happiness overflows,” he said.

But Kadayawan is not originally a Davao City festival. According to a City Information research, it originated from “Kalibongan,” an annual festival among Ubo-Manobo natives in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato in the 70s. Kidapawan City was then the capital of the province.

Kalibongan was a festival initiated by the Mindanao Highlanders Association, Inc (Mindahila), an organization led by Datu Joseph Guabong Sibug, a prominent and respected tribal leader in Kidapawan.

During the mid-70s, during the Martial law years, the organization experienced difficulty in staging the festival.

Because of this Datu Sibug introduced Kalibongan to then newly-appointed Davao City Acting Mayor Zafiro Respicio — with a request that it would be celebrated in Davao City to attract tourists. The late Respicio hailed from North Cotabato.

During Mindahila’s special board meeting, Kalibongan was renamed to Apo Duwaling Festival from Mt. Apo, Durian, and Waling-waling, the known symbols of Davao City.

Apo Duwaling was first held at the PTA grounds (now known as People’s Park) on September 26 to 30, 1986 with Unlad Proyekto, in coordination with the Davao City Tourism Office.

When Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumed the mayoral post in 1988, Apo Duwaling Festival was replaced by Kadayawan. In 1995, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 10 institutionalizing the celebration of Kadayawan every third week of August every year.


Since then, Kadayawan is hailed as festival of all festivals even drawing people from other provinces and foreign tourists. Two of festival highlights – Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan (Street Dancing) and Floral float parade – draw participants from as far as the Visayas.

The festival opens an art exhibit dubbed: Kinabuhi, which features the day-to-day life of the 11 tribes.

The Tribuhanong Pasundayag will provide a nightly cultural show for Davaoeños. Other events are the Dula Kadayawan, a sports fest for Lumads and Muslims; Hiyas sa Kadayawan or the Gems of Kadayawan; Subang Sinugdanan, a tribal fluvial parade; and Panagtagbo, a tribal convergence.

Kadayawan’s Indak-indak sa Kadalanan on Saturday and the Pamulak sa Kadayawan floral float parade on Sunday are expected to draw a massive crowd of locals and tourists, said Tupas.