MINDANAO's Festival of Festivals as it is dubbed today, Kadayawan sa Dabaw has consistently showcased a rich cultural heritage through the past three decades.
The festival, which is centered on giving tribute to various indigenous tribes present in the city, is also a thanksgiving or Pahinungod for a bountiful harvest. It has become an avenue for farmers to showcase the variety of fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice, corn, and other Davao products.
It is rooted from the rituals of the ancient ethnic tribes of Davao residing on the foot of Mt. Apo where they gather during harvest season, chanting and dancing, and giving thanks to Manama, the indigenous people's Supreme Being.
Back in 1970’s, then city mayor Elias B. Lopez, who is also a Bagobo, initiated tribal festivals where vibrant cultures of the different tribes where exhibited. But, due to security conflict at that time.
A new festival was launched 1986 as Apo Duwaling, a play with the city's three icons -- Mt. Apo, Durian, and Waling-waling.
The indigenous group was again united under the government’s program Unlad Proyekto Davao which aims to unite the Dabawenyos and Mindanawon tribes after the Martial Law era. Each tribe’s representatives from different indigenous groups gathered and perform their ancient dances and rituals.
Local executives used this to promote the city as a peaceful and business-ready for investors. It aimed to put Davao in the center stage as a peaceful place despite the strife and a celebration of people’s diverse cultures and unique arts and crafts.
Over the past years, the festival has gained momentum and become one of the tourist attractions that draw local and foreign tourists alike because of its rich culture, colorful traditions and entertaining performances that continue until today.
In 1988, the festival was renamed as “Kadayawan,” by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte Duterte and in 1995 he issued Executive Order No. 10 institutionalizing the celebration of Kadayawan every third week of August every year.
The word Kadayawan is a derivative of the word “Dayao” which means good or “Madayaw” which is defined as “of great value or is profitable, superior or beneficial.”
Also, the Kadayawan sa Dabaw has been made to be “mindful of the indigenous people’s need to assert their rights to self-determination and cultural preservation while peacefully co-existing with the city’s migrant settlers.”
Every August, Dabawenyos look forward to the line-up of activities especially the “Hiyas ng Kadayawan,” who will represent the tribal communities of Davao City, the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan or the Street Dancing competition and the Pamulak or the Floral Float Parade.
Some of the festival highlights are the Mindanawon fashion and floral arts, river festival, indigenous music, exhibition, dance competitions, trade fair, food and music parties.
Aside from the highlights and mainstays of the events, every year, there are other activities that are accredited as Kadayawan activities, making the festival stretch on for the whole month.