The Kadayawan Festival is an annual festival in the city of Davao in the Philippines. Its name derives from the friendly greeting “Madayaw”, from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw”, meaning good, valuable, superior or beautiful. The festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living. It is held every third week of August.
This ritual serves as their thanksgiving to the gods particularly to the “Manama” (the Supreme Being) and Bulan (a moon deity) that the first gathering was on a night of a full moon, It was said that, long time ago, Ancient Visayans and Davao’s ethnic tribes residing at the foot of Mount Apo would converge during a bountiful harvest and had to celebrate the full moon because they believed “the diwata came to earth at that time” so did the other islanders and tribesmen. The full moon was greeted with a variety of names- ‘paghipono’, ‘takdul’, ‘ugsar’- but most significantly as “dayaw” [at present it is kadayaw in some Bisayan Islands], perfect or praiseworthy, fit recognition of its spectacular shape and sunset-to-sunrise brilliance. It was so beautiful that the pre-colonial people praised and believed it was the reason for their bountiful harvest
Various farming implements, fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice and corn grains were displayed on mats as villagers give their respect and thanks for the year’s abundance. Singing, dancing and offerings to their divine protectors are the highlights of this ritual.
Although times have changed, this practice of thanksgiving or “pahinungod” is still very much practiced by modern-day Davaoeños. This tradition flourished and evolved into an annual festival of thanksgiving.
In the 1970s, Mayor Elias B. Lopez, a Bagobo, initiated tribal festivals featuring the Lumad and the Muslim tribes of Davao City where they showcase their dances and rituals of thanksgiving.
Later in 1986, a program called “Unlad Proyekto Davao” was initiated by the government which was aimed to unite the Dabawenyos after the turbulent Martial Law era. At that time, the festival was called “Apo Duwaling,” a name created from the famous icons of Davao: Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak; Durian, the king of fruits; and Waling-waling, the queen of orchids.
“Apo Duwaling” was meant to showcase the city as a peaceful destination to visit and to do business after 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Finally in 1988, City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renamed the festival as “Kadayawan sa Dabaw” to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Davao’s flowers, fruits and other produce as well as the wealth of the city’s cultures. To this day, the festival continues to honor the city’s richness and diverse artistic, cultural and historical heritage in a grand celebration of thanksgiving for all of Davao City’s blessings.
Today, awan has transformed into a festival of festivals, with a number of spin-off festivals in the region. The festival honors Davao’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage, its past personified by the ancestral Lumad people, its people as they celebrate on the streets, and its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in thanksgiving for the blessings granted on the city. A celebration that interfaces the three aspects: tribal; industrial and; arts and entertainment. The festivities are highlighted with floral floats, street-dancing competitions and exhibits that showcases the island’s tourism products and services.
Today, the recognized original tribes of Davao are here for political reasons. They are recognized because of their present-day influence since they have organized themselves well. They are given deputy mayors to be their representatives to the political powers of Davao City. The present tribes of Davao is not based on historical accounts of the original inhabitants at all. They have removed the Mansakas and Mandayas from the list and replaced them with the Muslim tribes like Maranao, Tausug, and Maguindanao. Their reason is Mansaka is from Davao del norte and Mandaya is from Davao Oriental. What they didn’t notice is the places they said have “Davao” in their names while the Maguindanaos, Tausugs and Maranaos are obviously not from a place called Davao. What is more ironic is that Mandaya and Mansaka have the word “madayaw” in their dialects from which the “Kadayawan Festival” is derived.
If the tribes are recognized because of their present numbers in a city then the Muslim tribes (especially the Maranaos) must have been also recognized as original tribes by other cities and municipalities since they are found in numbers in every city and municipality in the Philippines.
Post by: Don Carlos Segova