DAVAO City is currently in the heat of the Kadayawan 2017 festivities. The City Government has worked with various stakeholders to put together the events that highlight the annual festival. Among the numerous announcements, one on eight reminders related to security and order caught my attention.
In a period when terrorism has time and again reared its many ugly heads, it does matter that all citizens do their part to ensure that terrorists do not have the opportunity to cause harm to and sow fear among civilians.
However, letting security and order be the dominant messages—particularly ones that have a lot of the prohibitive ‘no’ in them, and potentially reinforcing mindsets that could be inconsistent in the long run—for a festival that is meant to celebrate bounty, diversity, and the indigenous peoples is problematic.
Here’s my own take on eight things to remember about Kadayawan:
1. Affirm and celebrate diversity. Do not let fear and suspicion lead to the exclusion of others. When an undercurrent of fear and suspicion runs through our daily lives, it is easy to turn against those that we deem different from us, or hold views and beliefs that are not like ours. These are deep-seated programs inside us that we have to be aware of. When inclined to view someone as suspect, ask yourself why in a manner not meant to confirm biases, but to question assumptions.
2. Honoring indigenous peoples go beyond enjoying their dances, dishes, and displays. Fundamentally, it means ensuring that their lives and their life-ways are not put further at risk. Reflect on the hypocrisy of “celebrating” indigenous cultures through festivals, and yet being silent amid and even supportive of pronouncements to bomb schools that Lumad themselves have put up for their children and youth.
3. Davao’s bounty comes from the economic, social, cultural, and political activities of peoples, many of them not within the politico-administrative and geographic boundaries of the city. Support the initiatives of groups and communities, and not only the extravaganza of corporate-sponsored events. Celebrate Davao’s connectedness to other areas.
4. Culture is neither fixed nor static; it is not singular. Do not just enjoy Kadayawan events as if they were packages handed out for people to consume. Choose to be part of activities that invigorate, rejuvenate, further develop and create cultures through the arts, and multidimensional interactions with and among peoples.
5. There’s being disciplined and there’s being mindlessly acquiescent. Learn and live the difference. A population that unquestioningly follows rules may be the preference of law enforcers. But such a situation would be patently tragic if it is the state sowing terror among the population. State terrorism may be unthinkable now involving leaders we know and trust, but terror sponsored by government, and the rapid onset of it, are not unheard of in the Philippines.
6. Keeping a place and its peoples secure is not a “one-time-big-time” operation. It is a commitment that involves people who are in government, security forces, business, civil society organizations, communities and sectors must be lived out daily. The problems that beleaguer our people such as poverty, corruption, insecurity, and illegal drugs cannot be uprooted by one party in one go like weeds, with the expectation that they would never recur. Although seemingly unattractive as a message, the more realistic response is to create and sustain conditions that deny the factors of conflict and violence from taking root and spreading.
7. Davao was built neither by one person, nor only in the last thirty years. The Davao we know now, and the Davao those who came before us knew were products of a combination of conditions, circumstances, and choices. It involved many actors. The Davao we want is not necessarily the Davao we know. The only way to find out which is which and agree on how is to keep interacting in a manner that respects diversity and differences and honors life.
8. If Kadayawan is about “a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living” then the aspiration should be to work together so that everyday would be suffused with the spirit of the Kadayawan.
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