Madayaw, Davao

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Considered the world’s largest city in terms of area, Davao City has a lot to be thankful for.

Following the rise to power of its long-time mayor and now Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Davao is basking under the protracted glow of a spotlight trained as never before, in a city outside of Metro Manila. With the attention come exponential increases in tourism, trade and investments—all arguably long overdue.

Add all of this to what Davaoeños already had even before its mercurial rise to national prominence in 2016—the bounty of Nature, the warmth of its people, the progress of the place — and one can already expect this year’s Kadayawan Festival to be truly special.

The annual Kadayawan Festival is described as a celebration of life—and thanksgiving for it. It derives its name from the local general greeting “Madayaw” rooted in the word “dayaw” which means good and beautiful.


Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and (below) One of the winners in the Hulagway sa Kadayawan Photo Contest last year. CIO

The present format of the “Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival” was introduced by Duterte himself in 1988 when he was mayor, as a celebration of the city’s abundant harvest and its rich culture. It is a reboot of an earlier festivity, the “Apo Duwaling” of the mid-80s, which highlighted two of Davao’s icons—its highest peak Mount Apo and its renowned orchid Waling-Waling; and drew from circa-70s events that showcased the thanksgiving (“pahinungod”) dances and rituals of the Lumad indigenous people and local Muslim tribes.

This year’s Kadayawan will run for the whole week of August 14 to 20, with festival organizers promising it to be “the most engaging to date … the loudest ever, with drum beaters … and the grandest display of creativity and talent.”

City Tourism officials are hoping that tourist influx to Kadayawan will top last year’s 168,000 guests. Hotel accommodations are already expected to be fully booked by mid-week.

The festival opens with “Pag-Abli sa Kadayawan” at the Magsaysay Park on Monday, August 14. A Kawayawan Village and Bantawan Cultural Show will also run at the same venue until the 20th.

The “Hiyas sa Kadayawan Talent Competition” will be held the following day at the Gaisano Mall.

On August 17, SM Lanang Premier will host “HabiKadayawan,” while Palma Gil Street will be lined with “Kaondayawan Food and Music” until the 20th.

The following day, Friday, August 18, will be packed with activities: at 7 am, the river float parade “Subang Sinugdan and Panagtagbo” at Tionko Field; later at 9, the doodle competition “MugnasaKadayawan” at the Kadayawan Village at Magsaysay Park; then at 6 pm, “Hiyas sa Kadayawan” at USEP Gym. August 18 has already been declared a special non-working holiday in Davao City.

August 19 will be activity-laden as well: at 7 am, the “Indak-IndaksaKadayawan” parade, with a route beginning at Roxas Avenue and ending at San Pedro Square; then later at 10 am, “SayawKadyawan” at SM City Davao Annex; and at 3 pm, “TunogKawayawan” at Abreeza Mall.

The festival will close on Sunday, August 20, with the “PamulaksaKadayawan Parade,” also following the route from Roxas Avenue to San Pedro Square.

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