Kadayawan is a festival held every August in the city of Davao, in the 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.
Unlike other festivals with religious underpinnings, Kadayawan is not only a thanksgiving celebration for the bountiful harvest yielded from Davao City’s (Philippines) soil but more of a showcase of the rich culture and traditions still practiced by its Lumad population.
Eleven Lumad tribes are recognized by Davao City – the Sama, the Ata, the Maguindanano, the Klata-Guiangan, the Iranon, the Tausug, the Tagabawa, the Maranao, the Matigsalog, the Tagabawa, and the Kalagan. Some of these tribes have been Islamized. A hodgepodge of migrants, local settlers, and Lumads, all in harmonious and peaceful co-existence, comprises Davao City’s population.
It is easy to be mesmerized and overwhelmed by the fun and colours 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.