BULUAN, Maguindanao: Miss Universe Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina and former beauty queens are set to grace the launching of the Inaul Festival here, the new name of the annual Sagayan festivity on February 9.
Medina has confirmed her attendance, while Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa have committed to join Medina for the week-long festivity, said Eman Aljani, chief of staff of the provincial governor’s office.
The new annual festivity will be formally launched on Thursday in this town, the seat of the provincial capitol, to be held until February 14.
The festival opened over the weekend with Mindanao-wide sports competitions, among them, the Mountain Bike Challenge participated in by 456 bikers from all over the country.
The provincial government changed the name of the Sagayan festivity to Inaul Festival to highlight the cultural life of Maguindanaoans and showcase the inaul, an indigenous weave that was on the spotlight in the recent Mindanao cultural fashion show held in Davao City and participated in by candidates in the just-concluded Miss Universe 2016 pageant.
The change of name was also deemed necessary to avoid conflict and duplication.
“It’s been five years since we have been presenting the Sagayan festival at its best, but it has to be renamed as we learned that it was originally registered [with the Department of Tourism]by the other province [Lanao del Norte],” Abdulwahab Tunga, Maguindanao provincial administrator, said.
The Sagayan festivity started in 2012 as a major effort to transform Maguindanao from the conflict and disasters that peaked in the massacre of 58 people including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009.
At the time, the occasion mainly showcased Moro war dance, the Sagayan.
On the third year of the Sagayan Festival, it was decided to introduce the inaul fabric to visitors coming to the festival.
The colorful and beautiful hand-woven inaul can be found mostly in the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The cloth is usually worn by the sultan and other members of the royal family during important tribal occasions.
But designers began using the inaul in their creations and as it gained wider exposure, it has also become a symbol of Maguindanao culture.
“We take so much pride and honor as our inaul fabric is introduced to all, for indeed, the inaul along with the beauty, bravery and complexities of the cultures that comprise Maguindanao, is worthy of the whole universe’s recognition,” Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said.
Last month before the Miss Universe pageant concluded in Manila, the provincial government in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority sponsored the training of 120 inaul weavers.