October 2015

The colors of Kadayawan

Kadayawan is a festival held every August in the city of Davao where iEmergence Philippines is based. Dubbed as the festival of festivals, Kadayawan is a “celebration of the beauty of life, nature, cultures, and the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.” Many attribute the richness of the festivities to the colorful burst of people, food and places that fill the spaces of Davao.

iE staff and partners witnessed a few of these festivities. In particular, we attended the Lumadnong Dula or Tribal Sports and the Panagtagbo or Gathering of Tribes. Five tribes in Davao, namely, Ata, Ovu-Manobo, Matigsalug, Tagabawa and Klata Manobo, participated in 12 tribal games that highlighted their indigenous culture and skills. Among the games were water fetching (sosakoro or panikado), fire-making (totaringki or paning), tug of war using abaca rope and various target-hitting games namely sasalid, solopot and bubuntug. Through play and show of strength and talent, the day became an intercultural celebration that not only showed the traditional sports of these tribes but affirmed values such as camaraderie and fairness as well. A deeper look into these games reveals how much tribal peoples value harmony and peace in their communities even through play.

The Panagtagbo was a gathering of 11 tribes in Davao, which includes the five mentioned above, and the Tausug, Maguindanao, Maranao, Kagan, Sama & Iranun tribes. Clad in full traditional regalia and accompanied by music and dancing the tribes paraded through the Davao River in small vibrant boats. The highlight of the gathering, however, was the different cultural presentations from each tribe that followed the fluvial parade.

It is easy to be mesmerized and overwhelmed by the fun and colors of Kadayawan. However, let us not allow the bright colours of celebration blind us to the continuing struggle of the Indigenous peoples against forced displacement and human rights violations. Let the 'red' remind us that Lumad men, women and children are being killed over their expressions of self-determination in regards to their ancestral domain and land rights. May the 'green' bring back the memory of the forests that once were abundant and untouched in these lands, but now sit reddish brown because of the continued and unbridled onslaught of the extraction of the life of our Mother, the earth. Let the 'blue' remind us that we are all under one sky and encircled by the same oceans, that we share a common home. If Kadayawan is truly a celebration of life, nature and cultures, let us stand with all those who have the right to such and those who live to protect and harmonize creation yet continue to be harassed and marginalized. But if we are to stand as one, let us listen carefully to the wisdom of the Indigenous people and choose life in abundance for our lands and people.