Kadayawan Festival 2022 Experience!

Kadayawan Festival 2022

It’s been a long time since I went back to my hometown, Davao City. As far as I can remember, it was during pre-pandemic when I last stepped foot here. Now that 5 years have passed since the last time, I am very excited to tell you about my experience in the most celebrated event here in Davao – Kadayawan Festival. Aside from that, I will also tell you where else you can go and what else you can do here on your visit!

The Kadayawan Festival is an annual Dabawenyo thanksgiving celebration for a rich harvest, the tranquility of life, the wealth of its cultures, and the gifts that nature bestows on its people. The Kadayawan Festival, derived from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw,” which translates to “good, beautiful, superior, and valuable” is a celebration of a good life. “Davao City: Life is here,” as we, the Dabawenyos put it. In my 3-week stay in Davao, I spent almost a week of it witnessing this grand festivity.

DAY 1 – Arriving to Davao City & Long Staycation in Casa Leticia

Before staying in Casa Leticia Hotel (in front of People’s Park), we spent 2 weeks in Manay and Mati first. Who wouldn’t want to check out the beautiful pristine white beaches in those places, right? We’ll make a separate blog and vlog for that! On this day, (Aug 15, 2022), the Mass for the Kadayawan festival’s opening commenced. However, we weren’t able to come since we had an itinerary that we needed to follow. Also, we arrived in the evening, the program has already ended. We still felt the celebration’s spirit as we dine at Penong’s. There were a lot of locals and tourists in the said restaurant, and the streets are lively with banderitas. Festive music can be heard from a distance too.

Casa Leticia is one of the best and most affordable hotels you can try here in Davao City, especially if you’re visiting the Kadayawan Festival. It is near the event’s venues such as the People’s Park, Magsaysay Park, and San Pedro Square. They have approachable and friendly staffs. The rooms are clean has some how muji-classy style. You may avail free breakfast (Silog) in their restaurant on the first floor if you book via Agoda. We booked this from August 15-22, 2022. I highly recommend this place!

Day 2 – Warming up at Dusit Thani & Eat-out at Roxas Night Market

We heard that one of the places I should try to stay in Davao is the Dusit Thani. However, it wasn’t as budget-friendly as the Casa Leticia. Well, the price just pays for the total experience and it was worthwhile. My kids and I stayed for a night here during the Kadayawan Festival Week. The 70-sqm condotel-style room we got has everything we would need for a long stay. All are complete with a kitchen, dining and living area, a bedroom, and washing machine and dryer. The outdoor pool looks very luxurious morning and night. We would’ve stayed longer if only budget permits! It was a great experience nevertheless.

We had more time in the afternoon so I took my kids and family relatives with me for an eat-out birthday celebration for my nephew. Davao City trip is incomplete without trying street foods in Roxas Night Market! I ordered grilled seafood that we shared and enjoyed under a tent in a street dining setting. The Davao City officers are strict regarding the cleanliness and tidiness of the area, making it a safe space for dining. Just make sure to follow protocol, and throw waste and garbage in designated bins.

Day 3 – Breakfast in Madayaw Cafe & Lunch in Paradise Island

Just on the ground floor of Dusit Thani, you can find various restaurants and cafes at the side of the outdoor pool. Being a buffet enthusiast, I decided to spend my morning meal with my kids in Madayaw Café. Even at 8 AM, there were already a lot of people in the restaurant. It was huge but crowded. I’m guessing it’s because of the Kadayawan Festival. A lot of people (mostly foreigners) chose to stay at Dusit Thani for the said celebration. They offer a lot of food choices in different cuisine such as American, Japanese, and Korean. It was truly a delicious and fulfilling breakfast for me and my kids.

After the morning feast, we checked-out from Dusit Thani and had a 10-min taxi ride and another 10-min boat ride going to the Paradise Island. You can also choose to stay in the villas and rooms they offer in the resort, but we didn’t because we just went there for a day tour. Aside from the pristine water and white sand of the beach, there is also a mini-zoo or mini-aviary where you can find different species of birds found on the island. If you have extra time and money, try doing the water activities they offer like banana boats and jet ski. We enjoyed our seaside lunch here with the live acoustic music playing in the background. At 4 PM, (boat’s last trip) we went back to the Casa Leticia Hotel to rest and to prepare for the tomorrow’s itinerary.

Day 4 – Bantawan Tribal Village & Sayaw Kadayawan

Just 10 mins taxi drive from Casa Leticia Hotel, we went to Magsaysay Park. The Kadayawan Festival highlights the diverse and rich culture of Davao City’s 11 different tribes through Bantawan Tribal Village. Ata, Bagobo K’lata, Bagobo Tagabawa, Matigsalug, Obu Manuvu, Iranun, Kagan, Maguindanaun, Maranao, Sama, and Tausug tribal houses were opened to the public. I even got to meet one of the Tribe’s Princess and her maidens! Their houses (nipa house) felt very nostalgic as myself who once lived in the mountains had the same style of abode I grew up in. Just the sad part is that my tribe, which is the Mandaya, did not participate for this year’s festival. Hopefully I get to witness ours in the coming years!

In the Amphitheater inside Magsaysay Park, Sayaw Kadayawan commenced on the same day (Aug 18). The competition was divided in two categories – Children’s Category (6 groups) and Open Category (14 groups). Sayaw Kadayawan is an annual cultural dance theater competition that is part of the Kadayawan Festival. Each groups represented their chosen Tribes through a cultural dance showing their way of life. The Lapu-Lapu Elementary School (representing Bagobo Tribe) won the Children’s Category while the Mandaya Cultural Ensemble (representing Sama Tribe) won the Open Category.

Day 5 – Dula sa Kadayawan & Luz Kinilaw

Dula Kadayawan is more than just a gathering of Davao’s 11 tribes. It’s a showcase of Lumad and Moro games, with the purpose of raising awareness and educating the new generation, as well as the rest of us Dabawenyos, about traditional Lumad and Moro games and how they are played. They started the program with the tribes’ parade in which all of them wore their native clothes. There were 8 games the tribes competed in, including Usuroy (tug of war), Kakasing (Wooden Spinning Tops), and Bibinayo (Rice pounding). There were a lot of locals and foreigners who showed support and watched under the heat of the sun. It was such a really fun day to be in!

Even though we had to cover the whole day, we needed to replenish and regain energy. The Dula sa Kadayawan gave a 2-hour noon break for the visitors and the participants. This restaurant serves authentic Davao cuisine serving its customers the best-selling inihaw na panga and kinilaw na tuna (which we all enjoyed). My family, co-workers, and I had another seafood feast here. I wouldn’t say that the prices are cheap, but the generous servings and the taste serve just right.

Day 6 – Indak-indak sa Kadalanan/Indak-indak sa Kadayawan

The Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan, or street dancing, is one of the highlights of the Kadayawan Festival. This is a showcase of the region’s diverse indigenous cultures. The festivities feature various Mindanao communities dancing in vibrant costumes that highlight their indigenous heritage. There have been a lot of locals and tourists already in San Pedro Square at 6 AM. We had a hard time going near the stage with the barricades set and people waiting for one of the festival’s main events. Additionally, roads and intersections were closed to traffic during the street dance competition. The competition was also divided in two categories – Open Category and Davao-based Category.

Day 7 – Pamulak & Pitik sa Kadayawan, Matina Time Square

The Pitik Kadayawan is a drumming competition, while the Pamulak sa Kadayawan is a floral float parade with three competitive categories: Dako for large floats, Gamay for small floats, and Lahi for alternative floats. The event was star-studded with local artists such as Alden Richards, Ruru Madrid, Rochelle Pangilinan, and Rabiya Mateo. In the same venue as the Indak-indak, it was hard to get a good spot near the stage and some streets were still closed. Grateful that we were still able to witness the colorful and beautiful floral floats during the parade. The talented Drumbeaters’ added hype and music to the festival. This was also the last program and the last day of the Festival so we made sure to enjoy and seize our experience in the midst of heat and humidity.

Since the last day of the festival ended early, we were able to go back to Casa Leticia and get some rest in the afternoon. In the evening, we went to Matina Time Square to have our last dinner here in Davao City. I liked Balai Torrentira’s ambiance so I chose to have a dinner there with my kids and co-workers. The foods were very affordable and the staffs were very friendly. Around the area, there are also spots where you can drink and chill. You can dine in or enjoy the breeze in the al fresco dining. There are a lot of restaurants in Matina Time Square you can choose from if you decided to visit Davao City. I definitely recommend checking this place out.

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