4 Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Kadayawan Festival

Kadayawan Festival - Street performance

The Philippines is a country of fiestas. There is the Feast of the Black Nazarene, the Sinulog Festival, the Ati-Atihan and the Pahiyas, among countless others. But while these are all excellent celebrations of our nation’s rich culture and religious tradition, Davao City’s Kadayawan Festival sets itself apart. Here are 4 not-so-well-known reasons why Kadayawan has a special place in the hearts of Dabawenyos, and why you should book your tickets to Davao soon:

  1. It takes us back to our truest roots
Tribal Girl Laughing
The various tribes are highlighted during the Kadayawan Festival

Unlike most fiestas in the Philippines, Kadayawan is not a Catholic celebration. In pre-colonial times, the ethnic tribes of Davao lived in harmony with one another, and Kadayawan is an attempt to showcase the same unity between diverse cultures. During the festival, the indigenous tribes of Davao City are able to share their respective dances and thanksgiving rituals.  They give thanks to “Manama,” or the Supreme Being, and “Bulan,” our moon goddess. They celebrate life; they thank the divine for the blessings of nature, and for the bountiful harvest.

  1. Kadayawan is the newest name of this festival
Mt. Apo peak
Mt. Apo is one of the three royalties of Davao

It was during the 1970s, under Davao City Mayor Elias B. Lopez, when the festival took shape. He got the idea from a tradition called pahinungod, where the indigenous communities would gather at the foot of Mt. Apo—where they believed the diwatas were—to give thanks for their blessings. In the mid-1980s, the city government began a festivities for unity called “Apo Duwaling,” derived from what they call the three royalties of Davao: Mount Apo, durian, and waling-waling. It was only in 1988 when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte—now President of the Philippines—renamed the festival “Kadayawan sa Dabaw,” from madayaw, a Dabawenyo expression for something beautiful.

  1. It’s not all dancing and eating
Kadayawan Festival - Tunog Mindanao
Tunog Mindanao showcases the unique songwriting talents of the region

Apart from shining a spotlight on the manner of thanksgiving of the ethnic tribes, the city will also host other culturally significant events. There is, for example, Tunog Mindanaw, a songwriting competition that encourages contestants to focus on the unique style of music in the region. There is also the Hiyas sa Kadayawan, a pageant where the tribes nominate women from their own tribe, who are beautiful, but are also deeply knowledgeable about their native culture.

  1. The Philippine President and the current Miss Universe will also attend this year’s celebration
President Duterte and Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach
Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and President Duterte are rumored to attend Kadayawan 2016

President Duterte has always shown that Davao holds a special place in his heart. He announced that he’ll be attending the Kadayawan Festival, and it’s even been rumored that he’ll have a dance number with TV host and comedian Vice-Ganda. Rumor also has it that the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach will be in Davao for Kadayawan. Really, there may be a lot of festivals out there, but very few of them can claim that they’ve had both the President of the country and the most beautiful woman in the universe in attendance.

Photo Credits:

Featured Image: Constantine Agustin, on Flickr

Photo 1: Jon Lisondra Jr. on Flickr

Photo 2: Ehn Casiple on Flickr

Photo 3: iandlps on Flickr

Photo 4: mbb8356 on Flickr

Photo 5: Wikipedia Commons

Related Articles


Newsroom Archive