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Rough Cuts | Kadayawan: Unity in diversity

It is nice to hear that Davaoenos are united to celebrate one of two major festivities in this part of the country.

We mean the Kadayawan festival that will have its culminating activities this week-end.

Just what is Kadayawan? There is no doubt that many of Davao’s younger generation, those who were born during the onset of the 2000’s, do not have even the vaguest idea of what Kadayawan is all about.

According to the book Davao City: Its History and Progress, written by Davao historian Gloria P. Dabbay, Kadayawan is derived from the Davaoeno word “madayaw” meaning beautiful, pretty, and nice. And the festival is celebrated in the month of August when Davao’s “wealth of flowers and fruits are bountiful.”

Normally lasting for a week, the festivities feature Davao’s 11 ethnic tribes. They send representatives to participate in activities that display their colorful tribal costumes, their customs and traditions usually through interpretative dancing and indigenous games, as well as household management practices.

Quoting then mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte, author Dabbay said in her book that “the KadayawansaDabaw festival is one festivity which fully expresses the Dabawenyos’ traditional way of thanksgiving to the Divine Providence the blessings they have enjoyed in the form of bountiful harvests, the rich fruiting season as well as the successful hunting in the primeval forest which were part of their natural habitat.”

In other words, the festival “highlights the best that the Davao community can offer visitors and friends.”

Yes, the single-word festival is undoubtedly a uniting factor that easily makes people of the city from all walks of life, from all ethnic origins, from the Davao natives to the migrants from Luzon, the Visayas and from neighboring provinces and cities in Mindanao come together and be one.

But how many know, and would want to know, that Kadayawan itself is a product of personal diversity in ideas and political courses followed by the city’s leaders who initiated the festival that it is now being celebrated with fervor?

Yes, often times it takes strong diversity for people to discover that there is reason for unity. Think of this:

Kadayawan has its precursor, the Apo-Duwalingthat was conceived by the late Davao City Mayor Zafiro Respicio. The elements that run in the Apo-Duwaling festival are the very same that create the blueprint of the Kadayawan festivities. These are about the blooming of Davao’s rare orchids, more specifically the waling-waling, and the bountiful fruit harvest with durian as the main highlight. Apo-Duwaling also puts in focus the famous Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak, and the customs and traditions of the different ethnic tribes living at its foot.

When then OIC Vice Mayor RodyDuterte assumed office after defeating Respicio in the first local election after the EDSA People Power revolution he, or perhaps some of his close advisers, caused the change of Apo-Duwaling to what is now Kadayawan.
There is no more need to look into the details of the change. But apparently, the change in the festival’s name is widely accepted because since then every Kadayawan festival has always been a record success.  In fact participants and local as well as visiting revelers are getting bigger in number each year.

This weekend’s culminating activities are expected to have much bigger draws in tourists both local and foreign.

Of course this could not happen had Davao City’s local officials led by Lady Mayor Inday Sara and brother Vice Mayor Baste Duterte, and the Davaoenos themselves were wanting in support to the various work required of gargantuan festivals like the Kadayawan.

So, this early we are already extending our congratulations to all who labored for the success of this year’s Kadayawan celebration.

Somehow, this gives credence to the thought that people’s unity is pretty much stronger if this has evolved from earlier diversity in ideas and beliefs.

Again, congratulations to all Davaoenos. And for those who were tasked to spearhead the many activities of the Kadayawan, our profuse thanks. After all, we are certain that this week-end’s remaining activities are not going to fail.


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