8 Kadayawan Festival Experiences You’ll Regret Missing

happy street dancers during the kadayawan festival

Once a small gathering, Kadayawan Festival in Davao is now one of the highly-anticipated festivals in the Philippines. From the dynamic street dancing to the vibrant giant floral parade, Kadayawan has something for everyone!

Held every third week of August, Dabaweños celebrate Kadayawan Festival as a thanksgiving event and a tribute to the lumad, a collective group of indigenous people living in the city. This is what makes Kadayawan a unique festival.

Read on to learn more about the Kadayawan Festival history, how this tradition came about, and the exciting activities you can take part to.

Kadayawan Festival History

a group of street dancers

Kadayawan is a native expression in the Dabawnon tongue. It’s derived from the word “madayaw” which means good, valuable, and superior. Hence, Kadayawan Festival Tagalog means pasasalamat at pagpapahalaga. It is the celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, and bounties of harvest and serenity of living.

While it’s celebrated without the religious factor, the origin of Kadayawan Festival is the pagan belief of the ethnic tribes of Davao. Back in the day, the ethnic tribes would come together at the foot of Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest mountain, to celebrate abundant crops, performing rituals that paid tribute to the nature gods Manama and Bulan.

As a sign of respect for the great year they’ve had, they displayed fruits, vegetables, flowers, rice, and corn grains on their mats and at the front of their houses. They also used to sing and dance as well, much like what they do today.

In the 1970s, then-Mayor Elias B. Lopez, encouraged the Davao ethnic tribes to showcase their thanksgiving rituals. In 1986, the Davao City government launched a project that aimed to unite the people during the turbulent times of the Martial Law.

That time, the festival was called Apo Duwaling, named after three natural wonders you can find the region: Mt. Apo, Durian, and Waling-waling. It was officially renamed as the Kadayawan Festival in 1988 by then-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Kadayawan Festival Activities You Must Not Miss

Each year, Kadayawan Festival becomes bigger and grander! So you can’t blame us for looking forward to Kadayawan Festival 2020 happenings! Here are some activities you shouldn’t miss in the festival.

1. Indak Indak sa Kadalanan (Street Dancing)

a smiling girl performing in the street dance competition

The Kadayawan Festival dance on the streets is the most-awaited and main highlight of the event. Contingents from various parts of Mindanao display their award-winning choreography while showcasing their creativity through their colorful and extravagant Kadayawan Festival dance costumes! 

2. Pamulak Kadayawan (Kadayawan Floral Parade)


Kadayawan Floral Parade davao

Another thing to look forward to Kadayawan Festival 2020 is the Pamulak Kadayawan. It is like the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio and the Pasadena Parade of Roses in the United States where flowers and fruits are set in colorful floats by business establishments, community assemblies, and peoples’ organizations as they parade on the streets symbolizing all the bounty sustainably enjoyed by the city’s residents.

3. Hiyas ng Kadayawan


women at kadayawan festival

A festival will not be complete without a beauty pageant. In Davao, they have the Hiyas ng Kadayawan, one of the most-awaited events in the festival. What makes this pageant different from others is its aim to promote and make people embrace their culture. This is a quest for a young woman who understands her culture and traditions.

4. Shopping in the Kadayawan Agri-Trade Fair


native children selling their products during the kadayawan festival


Since you’re already in Davao to discover more of their culture, you might as well make the most out of it by checking out the Kadayawan Agri-Trade Fair where various fruits and crops, plants, and furniture are set up in commercial stalls for visitors to purchase. There are also handicrafts, accessories, and colorful malong (traditional clothing) that are up for grabs in the local market.

5. Trying Davao’s famous Durian

many durians sold in davao

Dubbed as the “Durian Capital of the Philippines,” you can taste the most delicious durian only in Davao! Some tourists don’t like it because of its bad smell but don’t let it fool you. While it does not smell that good, it tastes great! But if you can’t still stand its smell, you can just try the durian candies that won’t fail you. Among the famous fruits you can try, too, in Davao are the mangosteen, lanzones, and rambutan that are sold cheap by the way! Perfect for pasalubong.

6. Dula and Sayaw Kadayawan

street dancers in kadayawan festival

Prepare to experience a fascinating activity by engaging with the local tribes through their unique games. Afterward, witness a program highlighting the traditions and folklore of the 11 tribes through creative dances.

7. Take a side trip to the best attractions in Davao

If you still have time to spare, you can visit popular attractions in Davao such as People’s Park and Eden Nature Park for a calming nature break; Davao Crocodile Park and Philippine Eagles at the Philippine Eagle Center for a wildlife experience.

8. Immersing on Davao’s ethnic origin at Kadayawan Village

Because Kadayawan Festival Tagalog celebrates the ethnic groups, life, culture, and traditions, your trip will be more meaningful if you learn more about those things. You can visit the Kadayawan village that gives the visitor a glimpse of the thriving culture of the 11 tribes of Davao. 

Tips for attending Kadayawan Festival 2020

colorful masks at kadayawan festival

For a fun-filled and safe Kadayawan Festival experience, take note of these helpful reminders:

Make an itinerary

If you have parades or weekend markets that you want to catch, make sure you research about it like what time will it start, where they’ll be held, and what days you can catch them so you won’t miss any fun activity you fancy. Start choosing the activities early to avoid feeling overwhelmed during the festival proper. 

Wear comfortable clothes

Wearing comfortable clothes is always on our list of tips in attending a festival so you can fully enjoy the experience! Kadayawan Festival is held in a lot of locations in Davao. This means, there’s a lot of walking. Don’t wear heels unless you want your feet to hurt. Kadayawan Festival date is in August where rainy season has already started. Make sure to bring extra clothes appropriate for all weather conditions.

Be mindful of your belongings

Since this is a highly anticipated festival, expect that there will be thousands of people from across the world attending the event. As with any crowded party, pay attention to where you keep your cameras, wallets, mobile phones, and more.

Have fun!

Got stressed due to an unforeseen circumstance? Let go of it and enjoy your time! There are so many Kadayawan Festival tagalog activities you can watch and participate in! Don’t let negative things ruin your festival experience!

Where to stay in Davao

Whether you are on a budget or willing to spend thousands of bucks for a hotel, ZEN Rooms got you covered! ZEN Rooms offer the best quality accommodations with great amenities at an affordable price. The rates of the hotels in Davao start at P900 per night.

Kadayawan is not just an ordinary festival. It is Davao’s way of celebrating the bountiful harvest each year highlighting the ethnic tribes and their cultures. The celebration is not just intended for the ordinary folks to see the multitude of cultures that Davao has to offer but more than that, it serves an invitation to the world to discover what life really means in Davao.

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