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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 August) — I’ve been living in Davao City since I was 12 years old, but I’ve never experienced Kadayawan. Being an introvert discourages me from going out and participating in activities which involve\ a lot of people crowding together in an area. Even if I’ve never actually seen it, I do know that it’s a celebration of the bountiful harvest which takes place on the third week of August, and it also showcases the culture of the local tribes in Davao City. Kadayawan comes from the Mandaya word ‘madayaw,’ a greeting reserved for beautiful things.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gave the festival its official name (Kadayawan sa Dabaw) back in 1988. It used to be a gathering of the local tribes to thank the ‘Manama,’ or Supreme Being for a good harvest. This simple celebration has grown to include Lumads, Moros, and Christians who now enjoy Kadayawan yearly.

I’m a fan of Philippine culture, and I want to be a part of its preservation someday. Maybe this desire is what finally prompted me to see the festival for myself this year. I want to immerse myself in the Kadayawan experience to get ideas on how the city celebrates its local tribes. Together with my partner, we ventured forth for the Kadayawan Festival, starting with the Hiyas ng Kadayawan coronation on August 11.

It was an excellent experience. The crowd in the RMC Gym had an infectious enthusiasm, and you can’t just sit back and watch the event impassively. Watching the cultural presentations gave me goosebumps, as I saw how proud the locals are of their culture. As the candidates sauntered to the nature-inspired stage, I witnessed how each woman carried herself with grace and how each of them proudly represented their respective tribes.

Tribe members cheered for their candidate relentlessly, notably after each one gave their answers in the Q&A portion of the pageant. In the end, Nes-Ann Naraga from the Kagan Tribe reigned supreme over the lovely candidates and won as Hiyas sa Kadayawan. In her Q&A, she emphasized that winning the Hiyas will provide an excellent opportunity for her to show the attractive qualities of her tribe and to help people regardless of their tribe or religion.

Sittie Aisha Salim of the Meranaw tribe was crowned as Hiyas sa Panaghiusa, and Karen Joy Dowing of the Bagobo-Klata tribe won as Hiyas ng Kalambuan. The Hiyas sa Kaliwatan include Lovern Jorich Bio (Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe), Monera Mande (Matigsalug tribe), Hanna Agujitas (Obu Manuvu tribe), Juhaira Omar (Iranun tribe), Rahma Musa (Tausug tribe), Chiary Balinan (Ata tribe), Norjanah Sirad (Maguindanaon tribe), and Sama Tata Dolina Ambo (Sama tribe).

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Reicza Gene C. Olojan is a 24-year old aspiring writer and a former intern of Manila Bulletin, writing for both printed and digital platforms. She has a degree in Literature from the University of Southeastern University – Obrero Campus)

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