Kadayawan Festival is an annual festival held in Davao City. The feast marks a celebration of thanksgiving, for life, nature, and abundant harvest.
The name of the festival is actually a derivative of friendly greetings in the local dialect, ‘Madayaw’. The word translates to ‘something that is precious, a treasured valuable’. What was once a small tribal gathering in the early 1970’s has become one of the country’s most anticipated festivals. This month-long phenomenon unites locals and tourists from all over in celebrating the colorful culture and artistry unique to Davao.
The history of the festival can be traced back to the thanksgiving offerings made by locals in Davao. Davao’s natives would gather at Mount Apo to show their gratitude to a deity they referred to as ‘Manama’. The offerings would range from fresh fruits, the farm produces, green veggies and rice which would then be offered on a mat.
This was accompanied by loud singing, energetic dancing, and ululations by the locals. To a great extent, present-day celebrations of the Kadayawan Festival have not changed much. The only difference is that this festival gave rise to several independent festivals, and the theme, while remaining largely about Thanksgiving, has also incorporated cultural and historical influences.
Visitors also get the chance to shop for farm produce during the festival. Not only is the product affordable, but you also get to have a glimpse into the locals’ way of food preparation. Interact with participating locals and find out what makes this festival ticks.
The annual festival is scheduled for each third week of August. With soaring numbers of tourists visiting during this period, you may need to make accommodation bookings in advance. All in all, attending the Kadayawan Festival in Davao is a highlight for many tourists visiting the Philippines around August.
Indak-Indak, a local term for dance, is the highlight of the Kadayawan Festival. It’s a one-of-a-kind street dance competition featuring wildly colorful costumes. The competition gets dancers moving to thundering drumbeats and performances that depict stories from the diverse tribes and Lumad heritage in Mindanao. Performers showcase a rhythmic mix of traditional dances and modern beats and movements. Not only does this turn the festival into a lively street party, but it also exhibits local tradition in a way that enthralls.
The Kadayawan starts off with a bang and ends just as loudly with the Pamulak sa Kadayawan, a dazzling display of larger-than-life floats made of beautiful flowers. Floats are elaborate with blooms and other spoils of the season’s harvest. The parade is so big that sometimes national celebrities participate and show support by riding the floats and joining the parades. The parade happens the day after the finals of Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan.
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It’s not a celebration of a bountiful harvest until you get to taste it. Visit the Dayaw Market where locally-grown fruits and vegetables overflow baskets and bins. The star of the show is Davao’s famous pungent durian, which will undoubtedly be sold in probably every stall in the market. But Davao has a lot more to offer, home to some of the country’s best-tasting produce. Some of the most sought-after products are lanzones, mangosteen, and rambutan, all sweet and juicy and ready to be devoured on the spot.
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For three weeks, Rizal Park in Davao is transformed into a gastronomic paradise. The three-week-long bazaar features different kinds of snacks and meals all featuring local cuisine. Most popular are kinilaw, the local version of ceviche made from Davao’s very fresh seafood, and ginanggang or grilled banana. While you’re there, look for Davao’s award-winning Malagos chocolates and cheeses, as well as a plethora of local treats to bring home.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!