Dayaw 2011: A Grand Celebration of Indigenous Cultures

National Commission for Culture and the Arts,
13 October 2011, Philippines

A grand celebration and gathering of indigenous Filipino cultures recently concluded in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, where about 40 indigenous groups and clusters performed and discussed issues, exhibits were mounted, traditional games and dishes were showcased and vernacular architecture was displayed.

About 400 delegates from all over the Philippines converged at the Energy Park in the barangay of Apokon of the progressive city for the celebration of Dayaw: Indigenous Peoples Festival 2011. The event was spearheaded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), particularly its Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts (SCCTA), with the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, the Tagum City government, the Tagum City Tourism Council, different government agencies and the private sector.

The NCCA has been annually celebrating the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month in different parts of the country through this event. This year, it was held from October 7 to 9, with the theme “Paghabi ng Ating Pagkakatulad Tungo sa Kapayapaan” (Interweaving Our Commonalities Towards Peace).

A Mansaka group of Tagum City led by Datu Agidong Suknaan and Datu Rudy Onlos opened the festival with a ritual, thanking Magbabaya. The participants, about 400 of them, and guests were welcomed by Tagum City mayor Rey T. Uy. Department of Education Undersecretary Albert Muyot delivered the message of NCCA chairman Felipe de Leon, expressing appreciation to the city of Tagum, dubbed as the cultural hub of Mindanao. Also in attendance is NCCA executive director-officer-in-charge Adelina Suemith, who will serve the Commission while in search of executive director.

The highlight of the opening ceremony was an exhilarating parade of indigenous groups and clusters, including the Iloko and Bago, Pangasinan of Bolinao, Gaddang and Isinay, Tinggian and Itneg, Ibanag and Yogad, Itawit and Malaweg, Ivatan, Bungkalot and Isnag, Kalinga, Ifugao, Ibaloi, Kankanaey and Balangao, Bontok and Applai, Ayta of Central Luzon, Tagalog of Bulacan, Mangyan, Palawani, Molbog and Jama Mapun, Tagbanua, Pala’wan and Batak, Cuyunon of El Nido, Agta of Bicol, Bikolano, Ati of Negros Occidental, Ati of Guimaras, Iloilo and Capiz, Bukidnon of Panay, Ati of Antique and Aklan, Hiligaynon, Kiniray‐a and Aklanon, Waray and Abaknon, Yakan, Subanen, Manobo, Higaonon, Bagobo, Mandaya and Mansaka, B’laan and Sangir, Ata Manobo, T’boli, Teduray and Arumanen, Mamanwa, Maranao, Magindanao and Iranun, and Tausug.

NCCA SCCTA Commissioner Joycie Dorado Alegre expressed her admiration for Tagum City for taking up the challenge to host such a big event particularly to Alma Uy, the president of the City of Tagum Tourism Council, which oversaw and managed the event.

For three days, different groups performed at the sprawling park where a main stage was constructed as well as an intimate stage and an inamungan made by the Ata Manobo of Talaingod in Davao del Norte, an elevated structure used for special occasions, gatherings and important discussions. There were also performances in other parts of the region as outreach such as schools and malls in Davao City and several towns around Davao del Norte and in nearby Compostela Valley.

Aside from the performances, there were exhibits at the park: “Gama” (mats, baskets, bamboo crafts and wood crafts), “Dalit” (food and culinary arts), “Bantug” (prestige symbols), “Habi” (woven items, textiles and clothes) and “Kalinaw” (excerpts from Dr. Jesus Peralta’s book Glimpses). There were also examples of vernacular architecture erected at the park including the bebalay pagsalabukay, a Subanen common house; binotok, an Ata Manobo house; balay, an Ati house; patil, a house with single and high post; and an Ifugao hut.

Additionally, the 9th Kaimunan Festival of Tagum City was held on Oct. 7 as part of Dayaw. Held at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP), the event showcased the cultures of the ethnic groups of the city, particularly the Mansaka, and concluded with a traditional feast of rice, chicken and catfish cooked in bamboo tubes and bais, the ginger wine.

A substantial part of the Dayaw festival was the forum and workshop held at the DepEd Conference Room, with case presentations and discussions on indigenous peoples (IP) concerns. There were also presentations of traditional games to the delight of visitors.

The Dayaw 2011 closing ritual was held at the USeP, where the different indigenous groups gathered and watched the showcase of southern ethnic cultures and feasted on sumptuous traditional food. The event was highlighted by the reading of the Dayaw Tagum Declaration, ratified by the heads of different IPs and synthesized by anthropologist Dr. Prospero Covar. The declaration voices the issues, concerns and aspirations of the IPs as well as the actions to be taken by government, the general public and IPs themselves.

Overall, the Dayaw 2011 celebrates the cultural richness of the country through its indigenous peoples as well as confronts the problems that sadly beleaguer them. It is hoped that the festival will foster a deep appreciation of their contributions. Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue is this year’s conduit NGO for the celebration.