travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


My First Kadayawan Festival Experience in Davao

August 22, 2023

The Philippines has such rich and diverse culture, and it was just recently that I had the opportunity to travel and explore Filipino festivities.

Cebu Pacific Air and the Department of Tourism Davao flew us to Davao City to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Kadayawan Festival. Kadayawan Festival is a vibrant celebration held every 3rd weekend of August to express gratitude for the bountiful harvest and gifts of nature. It was an enriching experience for me as I learned more about Davao’s history and icons.

The flight only took us 2 hours from Manila to Davao via Cebu Pacific. It is the fastest flight at an affordable price that starts at Php 3,087.

We were in luck as we flew in via Cebu Pacific Airbus A330neo (the same aircraft used for Dubai Flights). It is an eco-friendly aircraft consuming 25% less fuel than previous generation aircraft and a similar reduction in CO2 emissions.

The airbus A330neo is a huge aircraft and has good legroom (for tall people like me). 🤭

Team Kadayawan: Alex, Nicole, Jacque, Ruth, RA, Erwin, Jeman, and Anton.

History of Kadayawan Festival

Kadayawan Festival is a relatively modern cultural celebration in the Philippines, which started in 1986 during the term of former Mayor Elias B. Lopez. It was initially called “Apo Duwaling,” combining the words “Apo,” which refers to Mount Apo (the highest peak in the Philippines and a prominent feature of the Davao region), and “Waling,” which is a reference to the Waling-waling orchid, a rare and beautiful flower endemic to the area.

It was later renamed under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership, to “Kadayawan sa Dabaw”, derived from the local Dabawenyo word “madayaw,” which means “good” or “beautiful.

It has then grown to become a celebration of Davao’s diverse culture including the indigenous and Muslim groups.

When we arrived, we already felt the festive atmosphere. The first time I covered a Philippine Festival was in 2022 for Baragatan in Palawan. I was excited about what Davao has to offer. 😍

Kadayawan Festival Activities

In contrast to many other festivals in the Philippines, which often have deep religious connections, Kadayawan is a celebration that highlights the rich cultural heritage, unity, and abundant natural resources of the Davao Region.

During our visit, we had an incredible opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in festivities like street dancing, floral float parades, and tribal village visit.

A visit to the Kadayawan Tribal Village

The Kadayawan Tribal Village located in the Magsaysay Park is a cultural attraction in Davao City that feels like a living museum. The experience is really unique as it offers guests an opportunity to learn about and interact with 11 indigenous and Muslim tribes in Davao Region.

When we arrived, I already felt the festive vibe as the place was crowded with families and friends. Guests can interact with local tribes (just leave a donation to show appreciation), and even try on costumes or play musical instruments.

From tribal huts, traditional cuisines, cultural performances, and craft demonstrations, we had a blast exploring the village.

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan

Indak Indak sa Kadalanan is said to be the most anticipated activity in the Kadayawan Festival. It is a street dance competition that showcases the talent and creativity of Davawenyos. The performances which incorporate traditional themes and theatrical routines tell stories of the region’s history and culture.

The rhythmic drum beats and the festive atmosphere made me want to dance, but we decided to just stay in our seats because of the afternoon heat. The performances came alive with their vibrant, colorful costumes and props. My favorite was the one featuring mostly young performers, and I couldn’t help but admire the immense time and dedication they must have invested in their acts.

During this year’s 38th Kadayawan Festival, we also got to see the rich culture of Ilocos, as the Tan-ok ni Ilokano performed on stage. Senator Imee Marcos attended the event to represent President Bongbong Marcos and brought the Northern group with her.

Pamulak Kadayawan and Floral Float Parade

The main event of the Kadayawan Festival is the Pamulak Kadayawan and Floral Float Parade which showcases the creativity and artistry of local communities, organizations, and businesses. The term “Pamulak” is derived from the local Dabawenyo word meaning “to offer flowers”.

Most of the floats feature and highlight Davao’s 4 Icons: the Philippine Eagle (largest eagle native to the Philippines), Waling-Waling (a type of orchid endemic in Davao), Durian (unique and pungent-smelling tropical), and Mt Apo (the highest peak in the Philippines).

The Philippine Eagle’s wonder lies in its monogamous nature and dedicated familial care. It is now my favorite animal. So much respect for this endangered specie. 🙌

Jacque and I walked down the parade route and saw a lot of interesting designs and elaborate patterns. The themes mainly reflect Davao’s culture, history, and icons. There are a few who incorporated modern and trending themes like that of Barbie’s. We also spotted floats from our favorite brands.

We walked two blocks and were just right on schedule to hop on the Cebu Pacific Air’s float. It was fun to experience and see the view of the parade from this side. Truly a unique experience for my first Kadayawan Festival. 💮

Manila to Davao

You can also experience and enjoy the Kadayawan Festival as Manila is just a two-hour flight to Davao.

You can book the fastest and most affordable flight via Cebu Pacific for as low as Php 3,087.

Where to Stay in Davao City

We stayed in The Royal Mandaya Hotel which is located near the parade route. We had a comfortable and secure stay in the hotel, and the staff is really nice and accommodating to our simple requests.

The hotel has function halls, a business center, and an outdoor pool. I was telling my roomie, Jacque that I rarely get to experience hotels that still do “turn down service“, and the Royal Mandaya Hotel is consistent every night. Housekeeping also makes sure that we have fresh new towels and toiletries every day.

The Royal Manadya Hotel is also near my church (which is just a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute ride). I was able to attend the worship services and got back to our hotel in time for our schedule.

Interestingly, one of the hotel staff is a viewer of my Shopee Livestream (during the Pandemic era 😀). I was surprised when she asked if I did Shopee Live before, and she recognized “Teacher Ruth”. Haha. (Hello Ms. Aiza!)

During our visit, we got the chance to try the new drinks that they would soon launch. Watch out for coffee mixed with Durian.

Travel Tips and What to Wear at the Kadayawan Festival

Here are some travel tips that I hope you will find helpful for a more comfortable and safe Kadayawan Festival experience:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You will do a lot of walking so make sure that you wear comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers to protect your feet, too.
  2. Wear and re-apply sunblock. Don’t forget to bring caps or a scarf.
  3. No backpacks. It is a rule as part of the security plan in Davao. I put my bag in an eco-bag/tote bag to secure my belongings.
  4. Don’t forget your power bank. You will surely take loads of photos and videos, so make sure you have extra battery juice.
  5. Hydrate. There are convenience stores around where you can buy a bottle of water. The city is quite strict with tumblers and canisters.
  6. If you are exploring around the area of the parade, better to just walk vs take a cab/taxi. Most of the roads are closed and it would save you time to just walk.

My Kadayawan Outfit Diary 💃

It was indeed a colorful weekend at the Kadayawan Festival. In the true essence of the festival, I witnessed the Davao Region’s creativity, unity, and pride as they contribute their time, effort, and resources making the Kadayawan Festival a memorable experience for both locals and tourists.

Davao embraced modernity while remaining rooted to its history and culture.

In my next posts, I will share about my adventures in Davao.

Thank you so much Cebu Pacific Air and Department of Tourism Davao for having me 😊

Follow along:

#LetsFlyEveryJuan #CEBTravels #CEBFiestaFunFest #FlyTaBaisaKadayawan #ExperienceKadayawan #38thKadayawanFestival #FestivalofFestivals

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