Kadayawan: Celebrating cultural diversity and understanding its importance

By: Cha Florece

I have lived in Davao City for 30 years and I’ve only recently participated in the yearly celebration of Kadayawan. Many celebrate the week-long festivities by partying, watching social/cultural events and even join the parade. But only a few understand the core values of this grand festival, which is to recognize the first occupants of this land, the LUMAD.

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In this year’s celebration, with the help of friends from iEmergence, I got the chance to share stories with our Lumad brothers and sisters. I was glad to know that they were happy to visit the city, see some places that are new to them, and meet new faces who they will remember for the rest of their lives. I was happy when they told me they appreciate and liked the modernity of the city which makes the people’s lives easier and comfortable. Our transportation, establishments, huge schools, tall buildings, gadgets, and other communication devices. Some of them said they will visit the city again.

Then, it was their turn to ask me if I have been to their place. I said yes, and it was also my first time to visit Paquibato District. Although I have travelled to far flung places several times before, it was my first to go with the vision of a successful project in mind, and the excitement to finally meet the Lumad in the community. I told them I was not discouraged by how difficult the transportation was, how dusty and challenging the ride was. I told them that I fully enjoyed the ride seeing how refreshing it was to see lush bushes, green mountains and how simple the people are. I was happy to see kids walk going to school, making me feel nostalgic where I had to walk due to unavailability of the transportation, yet making me more and more motivated to go learn the lessons prepared everyday. Minutes passed by and we were all delighted to hear different stories.

I came to realize that they are more people of the world than me. Even at the young age of 10, or 15, they understand how important our land is. The need to preserve the trees, animals and food this land produces. They are more sensitive in preserving our culture and tradition, that this is the way we are being recognized for being a Davaoeño. I was taken aback when one of the kids said they wished for the mainland people to be more concerned in conserving the environment, so that the people can enjoy the wonders of the hand above.

Cha works at a Philippine-based firm that delivers a broad scope of marketing, analysis, and other business services to leading companies called Demand Science. She, along with Demand Science, has been a partner of iEmergence in building positive pathways for Indigenous people in Mindanao for over a year now. Cha actively promotes and supports the work we do at iE because she believes that Indigenous people should have the space to freely express and learn their ways of living.