IT WAS the time of the year when people of diverse ethnicities in North Cotabato gathered together to celebrate the week-long Kalivungan Festival.
The festival showcased the colorful culture, unique traditions and way of life of the tribes in the province.
The festival is coined from the Maenuvu word Kalivungan which means “Gathering” or “Festival”. The event features an array of cultural presentation, ethnic dances, rituals, music, and native games. It also highlights the rich heritage of the Muslim tribes, indigenous tribes and the Christian settlers.
Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who led the opening of the festival last August 26 at the Provincial Pavilion, Provincial Capitol Grounds in Amas, Kidapawan City, took pride in the understanding among the people coming from different towns in the province.
She said the essence of the festival is to highlight its people and the natural wealth of 17 towns and city of the province.
The festival is one of the highlighs of the celebration of the 104th founding anniversary of the province, which was anchored on the theme “Cotabato: Tahanan ng Nagkakaisang Sambayanan” this year.
It depicts the unity of the people with diverse religion, culture, and beliefs. It also shows their resilience over the past years despite the countless setbacks that they have come across.
One of the activities during the kick-off ceremony was the opening of Market-Market sa Kapitolyo that gave the different towns an opportunity to put up their own stalls and display and sell their agricultural products.
There was also an agro-trade fair exhibit, Coop Exhibit, Tourism Expo and Cultural Fair, which introduced their unique identity to the visitors.
The highlight of the festivity was the Kavurunan Festiva, an Aromanen-Manobo term for “gathering of tribes” that was held on August 28 to 29.
Some 500 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from the Manobo, Aromanen, Tagabawa, B’laan, Ilianen, Kirintiken, Tinananon, Teduray, and other tribes living in Cotabato gathered and featured their respective practices.
The festival is the province’s way of giving appreciation to their contribution to the attainment of peace and development of the province.
Jimmy Sta. Cruz, public information officer of the provincial government, said each year, the technical working group of the festival is trying its best to make the festival grander and bigger.
“This year is more meaningful because of the different activities that have been implemented. Every year, sinisikap ng technical working group ng Kalivungan Festival na ma-engage ang lahat ng tao especially the tribe people so the brother Muslims, Lumad and Christians,” Sta. Cruz said.
Since the festival is focused on its people, they see to it that it could be felt in other towns to encourage their participation and be one in this annual celebration.
“Mas matingkad ang celebration dahil mas widespread ang activities at mas narrating natin ang mensahe ng Kalivungan na pagtapok o pagtitipon ng tribo. Sa pangunguna ni Governor Lala Mendoza, ang lahat ng mga naka line up na activities ay inaa-arrange and well-coordinated with the LGUs,” he added.
The festival culminated on September 1 with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as the guest of honor.
During the culmination, which had an estimated crowd of 30,000, a street dancing showdown took place where spectators got a glimpse of how colorful and festive the province is.