Davao is rich in prestigious cultural festivities. Among them is the much anticipated Kadayawan Festival, which gathers local and foreign tourists from several parts of the world eager to experience this unique festivity that only Davao could offer.
Then mayor–and later became the country’s 16th president– Rodrigo Duterte officially renamed the ethnic festivity the Kadayawan Festival in 1988. Now in its 38th year, the popular celebration is still being fully supported by the Dutertes, with the former president’s eldest son Rep. Paolo Duterte of Davao City’s first district, as one of its major patrons.
“Established in the 1970s for the indigenous groups giving thanks to the gods for their bountiful harvest, the Kadayawan Festival was then called Apo Duwaling, after three natural wonders you could find in the region – Mt. Apo, Durian, and Waling-Waling,” explains Duterte, popularly known to Davaoeños as their “Manong Pulong.’
The festival’s name is derived from the Mandaya word Madayaw, meaning treasured or valuable, as the locals use this time to give thanks for the season’s bountiful harvest to the deity they call Manama.
Back then, the ethnic tribes of Davao would come together to celebrate abundant crops, performing rituals that paid tribute to the nature gods. They used to display fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, and corn grains on their mats and at the front of their houses as a sign of respect for the great year they’d had. They also used to sing and dance.
Today, the celebration has evolved to a much more modern and colorful activity marked with music, jovial street dancing called Indak-Indak that displays multi-colored and very unique and amazing costumes, a more festive floral float parade, and visitors are delightfully treated to sumptuous food, drinks and many more.
A kind of unique local experience tourists will never forget.
The Kadayawan Festival is usually held in mid-August, highlighting Davao City’s 11 tribes.