The Kadayawan in my mind-A A +A
The Point Being
Saturday, August 17, 2013
RIGHT off I will have to acknowledge that this week's title sounds suspiciously like one of those class assignments, the What-is-Kadayawan-for-Me essay, that one has to hand inthe week after the events, often to make up for the number of missed instruction hours due to time spent on practice and holidays. But hopefully it will be a tad bit more than that.
As anyone who knows how to use Internet search engines would immediately find out, the Kadayawan is an annual weeklong festival in Davao City, is derived from the Mandaya word "madayaw", meaning "valuable, superior, beautiful, good, or profitable", and is a celebration of thanksgiving in honor of the "artistic, cultural and historical heritage" of the city. The reader would have also been informed of the evolution of Kadayawan from the "pahinungods" of the indigenous peoples to the Apo Duwaling festival in the mid-80s. Thank you Wikipedia.
Websites readily list the many activities organized by the government and the private sector and participated in by different sectors, many of which are meant to attract domestic and international tourists. Each year, organizers strive to outdo the previous years' celebrations with dramatic and aesthetically mind-blowing events.
But I think there is an aspect that needs further looking into, if the Kadayawanis truly to become a meaningful celebration for the peoples of Davao. And I am referring to how the Kadayawan can also be celebrated in the homes and in communities, on top of the performance or commerce-oriented events that take place in malls and on the streets.
Many of the festivities in the Philippines involve families coming together; examples would be the traditional Noche Buena in Christian families, and the Eid'l Fitr among Muslims. And Philippine fiestas still mean opening homes to welcome guests and visitors in many areas.
Looking beyond our shores, American families have the annual Thanksgiving dinner to commemorate the coming over of immigrants to the Americas (and the subsequent displacement of their first nations, but that's another story).
I would rather that the Kadayawan be another opportunity for Davaoeños to gather together as families and communities. Perhaps in those more intimate gatherings, we would have a chance to take a closer look at what we are celebrating.
For instance, maybe we would reflect on the people who can lay claim to being the originally inhabitants of the place we now call Davao, The combined list of historian Macario Tiu and Gisbert as cited by Bro. Karl Gaspar in his writings "Davao in the Pre-Conquest Era and the Age of Colonization" included Ata, B'laan, Kaolo/Tagakaolo, Bagobos, Guiangans, Manobo, Dibabawons, Mangguangans Mansakas, Mandayas, Samals, Kalagans and the Maguindanawons and Tausugs. Today, the Davao City Government lists in its website, 10 ethnolinguistic groups: Ata, Matigsalug, Ovu-Manuvo, Klata-Djangan (Guiangan), Tagabawa, Tausog, Maguindanao, Maranao, Kagan, and Sama.
Maybe the gatherings in homes and communities would provide opportunities to discuss where those groups are now and their stories. Perhaps somebody would ask how come in under a hundred years, the place described in 1848 as the region that had the "most number of tribes anywhere in the country" went to being a place in 1936 where "migrant Filipinos constituted the biggest group" (Gaspar).
During close interaction in our homes and communities, perhaps we would develop a better appreciation of these indigenous peoples. We would have known for instance that while "madayaw" is a Mandaya term, Manama, the Supreme Being cited in many write-ups about the Kadayawan, is actually part of the Bagobo belief system. How can we celebrate unity and diversity if we cannot even describe the basics of the cultures of the different groups, at the most basic their four "Ds" -- deities, diet, dress, and dance?
Perhaps instead of the usual "ethnic" rites that open an exhibit or show during the Kadayawan, there would be rituals of offering and thanksgiving done in each home and community echoing the rituals of the different tribes. And wouldn't it be great if the cuisine could be expanded to feature not just tuna and durian delicacies but also include those inspired by the food of the different tribes.
So yes by all means, perform in or watch the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan, be impressed by the Pamulak floral floats, and browse through the different displays. But at a designated time and place gather as a community, welcome guests if you can, and together reflect and give thanks.
Hopefully, more Dabawenyos would come to realize that the cultures of the indigenous peoples (IP) are tightly linked to their ancestral domains. That a particular dance step actually mimics the movement of a bird or animal that in current day the IPs can no longer see because they have been driven out of the forests. That the vitality of the cultures on which the Kadayawan is founded depends on the indigenous peoples' ability to practice their lifeways, which are tightly intertwined with the total environment of the territories of their ancestors.
Perhaps in our communities and homes we would come to realize that celebrating the diversity of our indigenous cultural heritage must translate to respect for the rights to self-determination and ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples.
Otherwise the Kadayawans of the future would only be more stylized versions of the past; hollow echoes instead of vibrant celebration of live practices and beliefs --real, growing and evolving.
Um, do you think I can already hand this in as my class assignment?
(Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 17, 2013.