AS DAVAO City celebrates its 33rd Kadayawan Festival that officially opened Friday at Magsaysay Park, we can only cling to the hope that Dabawenyos know and understand why we are celebrating the festival in the first place.
As most of us know, Kadayawan came from the local greeting “Madayaw” with root word “dayaw,” meaning anything good or beautiful.
Kadayawan Festival is generally a celebration of a bountiful harvest enjoyed by everyone in the community. Usually every Kadayawan Festival, there are durian, mangosteen, lanzones, rambutan, and many other fruits generously displayed on fruit stands all over the city in very affordable prices as compared to the other days of the year. When we talk of Kadayawan, this is the first thing that comes to our minds – heaps and heaps of fruits.
However, aside from this, what most of us fail to recognize is that Kadayawan Festival stems out from the history of indigenous people giving thanks to Manama, the Supreme Being, for the bountiful harvest, thus, the significance that the 11 tribes in Davao City play in the festival.
In fairness to the local government of Davao, in the more than three decades of celebrating Kadayawan Festival, the tribes were never forgotten despite the modern-day merrymaking and celebrations.
One of the highlights involving them is the Hiyas sa Kadayawan, a pageant of some sort with the intention of a maiden of a tribe representing her people.
We know that Filipinos are really fans of beauty pageants but there seemed to be something really odd about the concept of Hiyas sa Kadayawan. When they were presented to the media last week, August 3, at Star Hotel, people understood that the candidates (with ages ranging from 19 to 27 years old) are millennials and are of a more modern mindset.
Unsurprisingly, most of the candidates advocated for culture preservation specifically on awareness and continued use of their respective indigenous languages. What was ironic was the very candidates advocating for the retention of their local language are the same candidates saying it in English!
People understand how modern and perhaps westernized the mindset of these candidates are. But it may not be too much to ask for someone who represents the tribe well – someone who may not be that fluent with their local language but tries her best to speak it or in Bisaya, and not a foreign language only because it is convenient or because that’s how the society thinks we should talk especially in beauty pageants.
I would want to think that Hiyas sa Kadayawan is somehow a deviation from the traditional beauty pageant because it aims to preserve and well-represent the tribes in the city. These same tribes are very significant in the foundation of Davao City up to its present state.
But given that Hiyas sa Kadayawan has a much heavier responsibility than the other beauty pagents we know of, it is only proper that the candidates, or at least other representatives, understand what they are representing, or have the sensibility to understand what they are representing.