Saturday, September 13, 2008

kagay-an and kadayawan: a perspective

To juxtapose two festivities in the Philippines in an effort to provide an apparent comparison may well end up with bringing out not only the best attributes of each but also appreciating the essence of what celebrations truly are. In this literary endeavor where the focus is on two feasts in the southern part of the country, particularly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao, it is hard to figure that this essay is representational in scale since all year round a barrio, municipality or a city has its celebration of sorts backed up by a religious-historical foundation and sustained by obvious commercialism and tourism.

From Kalambagohan to Kagay-haan to the present Kagay-an as a festival title, this is an indicator of the constant change in direction and objectives of the government’s initiative to promote the city fiesta of Cagayan de Oro City. Presently, with the assistance of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Promote CDO Foundation, Inc., a more streamlined and educated promotion of the festivities is hoped to be achieved by once and for all nailing the appropriate title for a city fiesta that was erroneously once thought of the be a place of shame. On the other hand, Kadayawan as a term is derived from “dayaw” which basically means what is good. Similarly, the title also was a change from “Apo Duwaling” - a mix of the three best features of the city; the magnificent Mt. Apo, the intoxicatingly delightful durian fruit and the exotic waling-waling orchid. With a transformation of its name, Kadayawan has evolved as a festival title, true to its aim of showcasing everything excellent the city of Davao has to offer to its people and guests.

Both the Kagay-an and the Kadayawan owe their core to religious-spiritual and historical grounds. Although both are celebrated annually during the month of August, it is good to note that Kagay-an as a festivity is anchored on the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo of whom is the patron saint of the City of Cagayan de Oro. A religious fiesta starts with a nine day novena ending on the feast day itself. Kagay-an can then be equated with that of the Sinulog of Cebu, which is different from Bacolod’s Masskara Festival as the latter is more similar to Kadayawan. Institutionalized after the Martial Law era as a response to a challenge to unify Davao, Kadayawan has acknowledge the diverse cultures and heritage of Davao as a melting pot in southern Mindanao and provides the venue for the promotion and appreciation evident in their Indigenous Peoples Festival (Lumadnong Kasaulogan).

For anyone to say that the Filipino is for the flamboyant and the exaggerated is indeed an understatement. Both Kagay-an and Kadayawan have the streets filled with hip-gyrating beat and vibrant color. Whether you are in the People’s Park watching the different tribes in Davao meet and showcase their dance and rituals or you are in Kiosko Kagawasan along Velez Street in Cagayan de Oro as you are awed by the Golden Float Parade and the Higaonon Dance Festival, one can’t simply let one’s eyes off the pretty sight of performers dancing their way to appeal the audience and to grab the coveted prize.

Amidst all the merriment and vibe festivities like what Kagay-an and Kadyawan have to offer, the incongruity lies in the idea that a lot of these bank much on commercialism. Bringing a native dance or festivities from its source to the city streets are two very different environs that do not share the same weight in the cultural dimension. There are very minute nuances that are lost when cultural dances, for example are performed in the concrete streets. The great proliferation of commercialism also poses a threat to the essence of these celebrations wherein the objectives are gradually blurred from the people as merchandises of all sorts spring prominent all around the city. It has become a sad plight of any city where commerce dictates how a celebration like a city fiesta should run. It is very important to note that we should be able to make up for what we have as a community to make sure that the preservation of culture should be maintained rather than that of gaining monetary merit from all of these festivities. In the attempt to make a community thrive, the education of both the young and the old and exposing them to our heritage comes primary in the quest to cultural identity and that of national survival in this fast changing world. Culture is something that is lived, not something that is just watched from afar, as seen with colorful buntings high above the azure sky, scattered food peelings and scraps in lane corners and a fetid air of urine-laced city walls.

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