THE word “Kadayawan” is derived from the Lumad Mandaya greeting “Madayaw” that means beautiful or bountiful. The Kadayawan Festival has been institutionalized since 1995 as a celebration every August to remember the 11 Lumad and Moro tribes who originally inhabited Davao.
In this year’s Kadayawan, the city says we must look back at our indigenous past and its lesson in order to move forward.
But while they say that, what is happening is that Lumad community schools all over Davao Region, such as Salugpongan and Misfi Academy, which both strive to teach their young generation about their culture and their heritage of protecting their ancestral domain, are being suspended or shut down.
This is happening, while the city tries to celebrate “culture” by promoting the indak-indak dance competition where the indigenous culture is mixed with the modern, and in exhibits of indigenous houses, costumes and artifacts.
The colors and sounds of this festivity present us a “fossilized”, glossed and commercialized appreciation of the Lumad and Moro.
This happens only once a month that we enjoy the culture of the Lumad and the Moro. But what happens after that and for the rest of the year?
Institutions and groups in this city must push for more relevant ways to educate the Dabawenyos, and tourists about the heritage of the indigenous peoples and Moro peoples, and the struggle that they continue to fight where their land is being encroached for mining and agribusiness, but it threatens our food security.
The Lumad, most especially the Talaingod Manobo who have been living in an evacuation shelter in Davao, deserved to be heard for standing their ground to defend their land and their schools. They are carrying with them generations of memories, heritage and struggles. These are important amidst the need to protect their ancestral land, especially the Pantaron Range in Talaingod, which happens to be the source of the clean water for Davao that we boast of.
August is also important for the indigenous peoples all over the world as they mark the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This year’s theme is dedicated to the indigenous language. And language is important, being taught in schools to carry on culture and memory.
The language of festivity goes beyond Madayaw. There are also other words such as “Paragas” which means onward.
Let us take opportunity to make a Kadayawan meaningful by focusing not on celebrating the gloss, but rather nurturing and educating the people about the heritage and rights of the Lumad and Moro people.