Paghiusayaw at Duaw

A grand celebration of Davao’s cultural diversity, community spirit; Inaugural summerfest highlights 176th Parochial Feast of San Pedro
PAROCHIAL FEAST. An aerial view of San Pedro Cathedral, captured on Friday, June 28, 2024, in anticipation of its 176th parochial celebration on June 29, 2024. Today at 6 p.m., Fiesta sa San Pedro: Paghiusayaw kicks off at Rizal Park, culminating the inaugural Duaw Davao festival.
PAROCHIAL FEAST. An aerial view of San Pedro Cathedral, captured on Friday, June 28, 2024, in anticipation of its 176th parochial celebration on June 29, 2024. Today at 6 p.m., Fiesta sa San Pedro: Paghiusayaw kicks off at Rizal Park, culminating the inaugural Duaw Davao festival. Arjoy Ceniza/SunStar Photo

ABOUT 350 dancers are set to participate in the Fiesta sa San Pedro: Paghiusayaw at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, 2024, at Rizal Park, marking the grand conclusion of the inaugural Duaw Davao festival. 

Speaking at the ISpeak media forum on Thursday morning, June 27, 2024, at the City Mayor’s Office, event organizer Harold Quibete said the event is inclusive and non-sectarian, welcoming participants of all backgrounds. While it coincides with the 176th Parochial celebration of the San Pedro Cathedral, Quibete clarified, “This presentation is for everyone, not just Catholics.”

Quibete also said that they have set up a stage behind the eagle stage at San Pedro Square in Rizal Park, where the performances will take place.

Meanwhile, the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) announced via Facebook that San Pedro St. at CM. Rector Avenue and Rizal St. at Bolton St. will be temporarily closed for the event. The closures will start at noon and continue until the event concludes.

The summer festival celebrates Davao's tourism, Pride Month, lifestyle, leisure, and the Feast of San Pedro. 

As the newest addition to Davao's festival lineup, it takes place every second quarter of the year, offering a dynamic celebration of the city’s diverse attractions, music, and culture. 

Highlights include various fairs, bazaars, and the Panaghiusayaw, a cultural performance honoring the 176th Feast of San Pedro.

Paghiusayaw, initiated by the San Pedro Youth nearly three years ago, has become a celebration of cultural diversity and community spirit. This year, participants from the San Pedro Cathedral-Paris Youth (zones one to six), Worship Ministry, and Indayog Animation will perform dances from Japan, Thailand, India, Lebanon, Brazil, and Samoa, each reflecting themes such as care for others, self, community, nation, and church. The grand finale will be a tribute to the Philippines, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage and national identity.

The event is a celebration rather than a competition, where teams perform dances from various countries, each highlighting their unique culture.

San Pedro Cathedral
San Pedro CathedralArjoy Ceniza/SunStar Photo

San Pedro Cathedral 

In the heart of Davao City lies the San Pedro Cathedral Parish, named after Saint Peter, the first pope and patron saint of fishermen. This reflects Davao's strong Spanish influence and Catholic heritage, as the street was named in honor of its historical significance as a fishing and trading area near the Davao River. 

The San Pedro Cathedral, considered Davao City's oldest church, is a historical landmark. It is strategically located within walking distance of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City and Davao City Hall, both designed after Spanish town plazas.

According to the Davao Catholic Herald (A Brief History of San Pedro Cathedral, June 25, 2023),  San Pedro Cathedral, a cornerstone of Davao City's religious heritage, was established by the Recollects in 1846. From 1851 to 1859, they evangelized and baptized the Bagobos, the indigenous people of Davao. In 1860, the mission was elevated to parish status with Fray José Fernandez as its first priest.

In 1868, Jesuits from Zamboanga took over the mission, continuing until their expulsion during the Philippine Revolution. They returned in 1900 and maintained the mission until 1939 when the P.M.E. Fathers took over.

The church has since been overseen by Bishop Clovis Thibault, Bishop Antonio Mabutas, and Bishop Fernando Capalla, contributing to its growth. Today, Archbishop Romulo Valles leads the church, supported by priests and laypeople, continuing to spread the Good News of salvation.

On April 19, 1981, Easter Sunday, a bomb exploded during mass at San Pedro Cathedral. Details on the casualties remain unknown. However, a witness, an elderly church vendor, told Davao Today that five fire trucks were dispatched to clean the blood-soaked church.

The bombing occurred during Martial Law when Luis Santos was the mayor of Davao City.

On December 28, 1993, another bombing struck San Pedro Cathedral during a Sunday evening mass. This attack was far more devastating, killing seven people and injuring 151, with 32 sustaining serious injuries. 

Three bombs detonated inside the cathedral: the first in the center aisle, the second near the altar, and the third at the main entrance.

San Pedro Street in Davao City
San Pedro Street in Davao CityKarl Bryan Porras/SunStar Photo

The feast

Catholicism has long been a cornerstone of Filipino identity, with over 80 percent of Filipinos identifying as Roman Catholic. Consequently, the Philippines is home to thousands of fiestas. 

The feast day of a saint is not just a celebration but also a remembrance of blessings, the community’s way of life, and a bountiful harvest and livelihood. The saint's name often becomes the feast's name.

This year, the church celebrates its 176th Parochial Fiesta on June 29, alongside the 44th anniversary of its cathedral dedication. 

With hundreds of devotees attending the holy masses, the church is expected to be a focal point for the festivities.

Today, the church greets visitors with a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. The arched ceiling, reminiscent of a protective shell, shelters the faithful beneath its grand sweep, symbolizing the church's enduring legacy.

Arjoy Ceniza/SunStar Photo

Devotees

Conchita Torralba, an 84-year-old devotee and candle seller near the church,  has witnessed the church's transformation over the decades. 

She recalls the church being much smaller when she was younger. At the age of 12, she began selling candles and religious statues to other devotees for livelihood.

"Gwapo man ang pista gyud diri, basta Sr. San Pedro cathedral na gani, ang San Pedro mao na ang dalangpanan sa tao (The fiesta here is truly beautiful, especially when it's at San Pedro Cathedral. San Pedro is indeed the refuge of the people)," Nanay Conchita said, at the anticipated Parochial Fiesta.

"Lahi na karon, nagka-gwapo naman, sauna kahoy pa man (It's different now, it's more beautiful. Before, it was just made of wood)," she added, reminiscing about the church's transformation.

Karl Bryan Porras/SunStar Photo
Karl Bryan Porras/SunStar Photo

Archbishop Romulo Valles currently leads the San Pedro Parish, assisted by both religious and lay priests, in carrying out the mission of proclaiming the Good News of salvation.

Josephine Del Rosario, a 61-year-old devotee, is another who has experienced God's grace and blessings through the church. Like Nanay Conchita, Josephine appreciates how the church has strengthened her faith and allowed her to live according to Catholic principles. 

She shared that aside from spiritual growth, the church also provides material help to its devotees, including those who practice Catholic Charismatics. She is deeply grateful for the gifts she has received while devoting her time to the greater glory of God.

“Sa wala pa koy Ginoo sauna, dautan ko nga pagkatao, pero sa na miyembro ko sa Charismatic murag nabag-o jud ko, nabut-an jud ko (Before I found God, I was a bad person. But since I became a member of the Charismatic, I feel like I've truly changed; I've become a good person),” Nanay Josephine said, on her transformation and growth as a catholic.

The people indeed make up the church; without them, the church is merely a structure. Faith is celebrated during the Fiesta, profoundly impacting many believers' lives. 

San Pedro Cathedral, a religious and cultural asset, fosters respect and cordial connections among its faithful, linking present-day devotees to the old, previous believers of Catholicism. DEF, KBP, RGP

SunStar Davao’s Duaw Davao Festival special coverage is in partnership with the Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) and sponsored by Santos Land Development Corporation, Converge, and Alsons Development.

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