Why Kadayawan is the Most Celebrated Festival in the Philippines

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated in Davao City, Philippines every year. Filipinos love bright colors so generally, festivals are celebrated with an array of different colors. What I appreciate about the Kadayawan festival is that it’s celebrated by different ethnic tribes. This gives one the chance to see different cultures in one festivity.

The History of Kadayawan

Long ago, it is said that the people living on the foot of Mt. Apo (the Philippines’ highest peak) give thanks to their god for a bountiful harvest every year. Remember that Christianity was not practiced in the Philippines until a few decades ago, and so these people give thanks to their god “Manama”, who is a god of nature.

Different fruits, flowers and grains are displayed on mats as offering to Manama. The people prayed, sing and dance during the thanksgiving as well.

Although times have changed, the people of Davao still perform the celebration every year. While the way of celebrating have changed, it has just become grander and a lot more fun than before. When only the people living in the foot of Mt. Apo used to perform thanksgiving for a great harvest, now the entire city celebrates thanksgiving for a peaceful and more prosperous year.

kadayawan davao

Festival Highlights

As someone who has been living in Davao City for 25 years, I encourage you to come and visit my city during the Kadayawan Festival. Even though I grew up here, I still look forward to the celebration every year. The festivities just never ceased to amaze me.

One of the things that I look forward to every Kadayawan is the “Indak-indak sa Kadalanan”. This simply translates to “dancing in the streets”. On this event, children and adults from different sectors dance in the streets and showcase different tribes in Mindanao (our island). Their costumes are just amazing! I also love how this event shows the younger children what our culture really is, which is a great way to pass it to the next generation.

The streets during indak-indak are full-packed. The entire downtown area is also closed to expect a lot of walking. It’s also hot so don’t forget to always bring a bottle of water, sunglasses and a cap.

Tip: People will watch the dancing from the side of the streets so get to downtown early to get a good spot.

Because the indak-indak is the kind of event you want to tell your grandchildren about, I suggest bringing a camera and taking lots of pictures. Filipinos are very friendly and the dancers will be more than willing to have a picture taken.

Another highlight is the “piging” on the streets. A “piging” is a big tent with booths selling food and beer. These open at night, around 6 in the evening. Local bands often provide entertainment. Having a round of beer or two at a piging is a great way to learn how the people of Davao interact with each other. Just note that there is an alcohol ban in the city, which was recently moved to 1 in the morning. This means that no store can sell any alcoholic beverages in the city after 1 a.m without violating the law. The local government is quite strict about this so don’t expect anybody selling you beer after this hour.

The local government also organizes different activities per year. Last year for instance, we had a tattoo expo and a road bike challenge. For the latest information, please visit this site. 

indak-indak sa kadalanan davao

The Icons of Kadayawan

During the Kadayawan Festival, you’d hear the word “Madayaw” a lot. The name of the festival is in fact derived from “Madayaw”, which means “good” or “valuable”. Below are some of the things you’d also see a lot during Kadayawan.

The Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle, also called the Monkey-Eating Eagle, is the country’s national eagle and is endemic to the forests of Mindanao. It’s the world’s largest eagle in terms of length, which is why the city has been using it as an icon for many years.

Davao City is also where the Philippines Eagle Center is located, which aims at rehabilitating and helping eagles breed. Although the Philippine Eagle is a very strong bird, they have become endangered due to hunting, and the center hopes to turn this situation around.

For more information about the center, please go here. 

Philippine eagle

Ylang-Ylang

Another popular icon during the Kadayawan is the Ylang-Ylang flower. The Ylang-Ylang, although found all over Asia, is primarily found in Davao City within the Philippines. It has become popular because of it’s sweet cent, which is also used in many perfumes.

ylang-ylang

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

For some reasons only a Dabawenyo (person from Davao) will know, I’d like to tell you about our mayor – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Simply called “Digong” by the locals, he’s been the mayor of Davao for more than twenty years. While some politicians in the country are against what they call “political dynasty”, I wouldn’t have any other mayor than Mayor Duterte.

Digong is not only popular within Davao, but in the whole Philippines as well (and that doesn’t usually happen). This is because he is known for having an iron fist, especially when it comes to implementing laws in the city. He is the first mayor to ban smoking in public areas, and while many people were against it, they can’t do anything when the mayor reasoned that this is for the common good. He’s also known for not being afraid of anybody, even to the point of swearing in local (sometimes national) television when he knows he’s right.

A few years back, there was this controversy about the DDS or the Davao Death Squad (as they were named by the public). These “vigilantes” killed criminals in Davao, and the Commission on Human Rights suspected that this group were acting under Mayor Duterte’s orders. He actually challenged the commission to prove this, but the controversy died a natural death and the CHR wasn’t able to do anything about it although the killings did stop.

Because of the way Digong is handling the city, we have the lowest crime rate in the whole Philippines. People are free to walk the streets even at 3 in the morning, without a worry in the world. So, even if you’re a tourist, you’ll be safe in Davao City.

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated every August. I’ll see you around!

What to Wear During Kadayawan:

Here’s a Short Video I Created About the Kadayawan Festival in Davao

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

The Complete Guide to Going Around Davao City, Philippines (Written by a True Davaoeña)

I couldn’t be more proud to be from Davao City, Philippines. My city is called the “Land of Promise” and no name could be more perfect. I’ve been to several cities in the country, and none could compare to Davao. If you’ve ever been to Manila – the capital of the Philippines, it’s a far-cry from Davao. In my city:

  • We drink water straight from the faucet because it’s clean. In fact, it has been tested for cleanliness, safety and taste and even bagged an award for being one of the most potable water in the world!

  • We have one of the lowest crime rate in the country, thanks to our mayor who’s very hands-on in managing the city. In fact, I walk around town even at 2 or 3am and I’m not scared at all. Surveys even show that nobody here is afraid of being attacked due to color of skin or religion. If you want to see the numbers, go here.

  • We have a very clean city. The air is cleaner compared to Manila, and no garbage is left on the streets.

  • We are ready for emergencies. Davao City is the only city in the Philippines to have a 911 service, same to that of the United States and Canada.

Getting to and Going Around Davao

Davao City has an international airport, though I think more airlines fly to Manila. If it’s affordable tropical vacation you want though, Davao is definitely the place to be. From the airport, you can conveniently take a cab to any point in the city. Please note that the cabs have a fare meter to show how much you have to pay. Drivers shouldn’t asked you to pay a fixed rate (they should always follow the fare shown by the meter). If they do, or if they behave badly, all taxis within the city are required to display the driver’s (large) I.D inside so you can get their name and the company they’re working for. You can also take a taxi from any point within Davao.

Just like all other cities in the Philippines, we have jeepneys all over the city. Because jeeps have fixed routes, it’s quite confusing for tourists on which jeep they should take when going to a specific place. In cases like these, don’t be afraid to ask around. The people of Davao are very friendly and are more than willing to help out.

Where to Stay

There are a couple of hotels and guest houses within Davao City. We receive a large number of tourists every year – one reason why there are plenty of places to stay within the city.

Marco Polo

The Marco Polo Hotel is one of the most upscale hotels in Davao. It’s located in the heart of the city, and it’s near hospitals, malls, restaurants and convenience stores.

Aside from restaurants, this hotel has a gym, a pool, a bar and one of the most relaxing spas you can find. Being a local though, I find The Marco Polo a bit overrated. I had the chance of staying at one of its rooms and there’s really nothing special about it. I also find it quite expensive compared to the other hotels here, although I should say they have a very helpful staff. Room starts at around U.S $84 per night. For more information, visit their site here.

marco polo

photo credits: davaocitybybattad.blogspot.com

The Apo View

If it’s location you’re after, I highly suggest The Apo View Hotel. It’s actually one of the oldest hotels in Davao, but they regularly renovate so it’s still like a new hotel. Their building used to be the highest building in Davao City, and it was so-named because they used to have the best view of Mt. Apo – the highest mountain in the Philippines.

They have adequate rooms, and they’re not as expensive as the Marco Polo. They also have a pool, a restaurant and a gym.

I suggest this hotel location-wise because they’re a walk away from a mall, restaurants, a hospital and bars. For more information, you can find their website here. 

Apo View Hotel

photo credits: www.byaherosnapshots.com

Microtel Inn

The Microtel Inn is located in one of the fastest-growing areas in Davao which is Damosa. This inn is surrounded by a couple of restaurants and is a walking distance from SM (one of the biggest malls in the city). Amenities include a laundry service, safety deposit box at the front desk, cable TV and currency exchange. They also have a friendly staff who can arrange tours and events for you. The rooms are also equipped with internet connection for a small additional fee.

Rooms start at around U.S $95 per night, good for 2 adults and 2 kids age 0-11 years old. For more information, go to their site here. 

Where to Go

Beach

If the beach is what you’re after, I highly recommend the beaches at Samal Island. Officially the Island Garden City of Samal, the island is about ten minutes boat-ride away from Davao.

Pearl Farm

Pearl Farm is one of the most luxurious beach resorts in Samal. It’s huts, fashioned after the houses used by the Badjao Tribe, which stands on stilts, has become an icon all over the country. What people adore most about the resort is its white sand and blue waters, although many find the infinity pool, good food and friendly staff a very good surprise.

Amenities in the resort include the aqua sports center, spa, game room, bar and outdoor massage.

They also offer several rooms, which starts at U.S $177 per night. This rate, considering that Pearl Farm is an outstanding resort, shows how an affordable tropical vacation Davao City is. For more information, please visit their site here.

pearl farm

photo credits: www.davaoportal.com

Leticia by the Sea

Leticia by the Sea is located further away, on a different island called Talicud. The boat ride to the island takes about a 45 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Leticia by the Sea, as far as I know, is the only first-class resort in Talicud Island. While there’s no doubt that Samal Island has some beautiful beaches, they tend to get overcrowded especially during holidays. For a quiet getaway, I highly suggest going to Leticia by the Sea instead. You can either get the whole resort exclusively for you (for about U.S $770, inclusive of boat transfer, use of kayaks, etc.) or rent a room and share the resort with the other guests. Most of the time though, there are no other guests in the resort so it still feels exclusive.

For more info, go here. 

leticia-by-the-sea-resort

photo credits: davaoadventure.com

Shopping

For souvenirs and gifts to give your love ones back home, most tourists head to Aldevinco. The Aldevinco Shopping Center has been around for a long time. Establishments mainly sell “Davao” t-shirts, malong (a kind of garment that can be used as a wrap-around or blanket), ethnic dresses and bags. Many establishments also do currency exchange, with rates higher than the bank. To go Aldevinco, just take a cab. If you’re staying at Marco Polo Hotel, it’s right across the street. Tip: Don’t be afraid to haggle, especially when you’re buying a lot of stuff.

aldevinco

photo credits: outoftownblog.com

Dine

You definitely have to try eating at different restaurants/ diners around the city! I’m a foodie myself, and below is a list of places I highly suggest.

Gerry’s Grill

Nothing beats my grandma’s cooking but Gerry’s Grill is a good second. If I’m craving for Filipino dishes and she’s not around, I go to Gerry’s Grill. They have branches in major malls like Abreeza, SM and Gaisano Mall, so it won’t be difficult to find them.

Dishes that I suggest include Sisig (minced pork in a sizzling plate and topped with egg), Lechon Kawali (crispy pork belly) and Pork Binagoongan (pork sauteed in shrimp paste). Prices are average and serving for each dish is good for two to three people.

gerrys grill

photo credits: enterdavao.blogspot.com

Karlyn’s

The major problem that I have with most establishments is that they tend to overprice their food. I don’t mean the price per se, but most of the times, they charge more for what their food is worth. I often go to Karlyn’s because their food is really good and fairly-priced. This place is an open-air restaurant, so I suggest going at night. Most people like their steak, but it may not be the steak you’re used to. Karlyn’s serves Filipino steak, which is also good but tastes slightly different. I highly recommend their Lenggua though, which is cow’s tongue in white sauce. I understand this is insane for many cultures, but beef lenggua is a special delicacy in the Philippines. It’s very tender and the skin is scraped before cooking so it’s clean. BTW, unlike most restaurants, Karlyn’s doesn’t have a menu. What you do is go to the counter and then pick the dish you like.

karlyns

photo credits: www.davaobase.com

Cecil’s

Filipinos love to eat. In fact, we eat up to five times a day, with snacks in between meals. For Filipino snacks, I suggest Cecil’s. They have different types of pastries, but what made them really famous in Davao is their Lug-lug (dry noodles with shrimp-based sauce) and Batchoy (noodle soup with pork slices and crispy pork skin). You should also try their pan de ciosa, which goes best with both Lug-lug and Batchoy.

cecils

photo credits: www.foodandculture.info

Prawn House

If seafood is what you’re after, then you definitely have to try Prawn House. It has recently open in the city, but I still don’t understand why not a lot of people eat there. Tiger prawns are extremely cheap, about U.S $8 per serving – good for 2 people (or 1, if you think seafoods are gift from the heavens – like me) and they’re super good too! I guess it has something to do with how the place looks. It’s posh and since most seafood restaurants in the city are quite expensive, most people don’t bother going there. To be honest, me and my sister were a bit apprehensive the first time we tried the place because it looks expensive but when we saw the menu, we ordered a plate of prawns each. They also serve other dishes like chop suey (vegetable with sticky sauce) and pork riblets and they’re good as well. On weekends, they have an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for only U.S $13 per person.

prawn house davao

Eat Durian!

Are you kidding me? Don’t ever leave Davao without trying out Durian – it’s what we’re best known for. Durian is a fruit with thorny skin and you (well, the vendor) have to cut it open with a big knife to get into the fruit. Most tourists are appalled by the Durian’s smell. I have to admit that it’s quite strong, but they wouldn’t say that Durian “tastes like heaven, smells like hell” for nothing. It’s a really good fruit. If I were to describe it, I’d say that it taste like milk from heaven. Even if you don’t like how it smells, just pinch your nose and try one bite. I’m telling you, don’t leave Davao without trying the king of fruits.

durian

Have a Bottle of Beer

First and foremost, the city government’s main concern is peace and order. Because we chose to have a low crime rate, the city has to make small sacrifices. Among these is the controlled nightlife. Bars in the city are mandated by law to stop serving alcoholic drinks by 2am, so most establishments only serve drinks up to 1:30am. Although, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a bottle of beer or two in the Land of Promise.

The Business Class

What I appreciate most about The Business Class is their ice-cold beer. It’s actually a posh bar, and most patrons are business owners, although young professionals get mixed in the crowd too. They serve mixed drinks as well. They also serve great finger foods to go with drinks, and I appreciate how friendly their staff is.

The only problem I have is that it can get too crowded during Fridays and Saturdays, so we go early to secure a good spot. By the way, there’s this girl about 14 or 15 years old who goes around offering peanuts, and I’d really appreciate if you’d buy from her. She used to sell her peanuts in the streets, but the owners are so kind to allow her to sell inside the bar even though vendors aren’t supposed to.

Legaspi Suites

I understand that some people prefer having their beer in a quiet place. If chilling out is what you’re looking for, I highly suggest the Legaspi Suites. This is actually a hotel with a couple of bars downstairs, and I like it because the ambience is good and it’s not crowded even during weekends. There’s also a pizza parlor right in the area – perfect with an ice-cold beer.

legaspi suites

Things to Remember

  • The city has a strict smoking ban law. Nobody is allowed to smoke in the streets or inside any establishments.

  • Again, liquor ban is at 2am.

  • Being in a tropical country, it’s quite hot so always bring a bottle of water whenever you go out during the day.

  • Try Durian before leaving!

Why Talicud Island at Davao City is Worth a Trip

If you ever find yourself in Davao City, Philippines, come and visit Talicud Island. Officially a part of IGACOS (Island Garden City of Samal), Talicud Island is a humble, beautiful island a boat ride away from Davao City.

Last weekend, me and a couple of my friends decided to spend the day at Isla Reta Beach Resort, which is in Talicud Island. I’ve been to Talicud 12 years ago – back when it was untouched by resort developers. It was very beautiful, but the lack of amenities was quite a problem back then. Now, it’s officially one of the best islands for vacation on Philippines.

Boarding a Boat to Talicud Island

From Davao City, we boarded a boat in Sta. Ana Wharf. The earliest trip is at 8 a.m, but we didn’t make it so we had to take the 10 a.m. trip instead.

Here’s the thing with the boats. It’s the same transportation residents of the island use, so don’t expect anything luxurious. It’s hot, and the passengers have to wait for the boat to get filled with people. The residents of the island, being far from the city,  buy most of their supplies from Davao so the boat is also filled with cargoes and you literally have to step over them in order to board.

We arrived at around 9:30 and were already boarded by 9:45. Since we didn’t know that the boat has to wait for other people to show up before leaving, we ended up leaving for Talicud Island at around 11:45 a.m. Boat fare, by the way, is around U.S $2 per head. It will take you right to Isla Reta, just make sure to ask which one’s bound for the resort when you arrive at the wharf.

Talicud boat ride

The boat heading to Talicud Island

Isla Reta Resort

Isla Resta is a nice resort – again, nothing luxurious but it did get certified by Trip Advisor UK. Because we went there on a Saturday, plus the fact that the summer season is nearing its end, there were a lot of people. I wouldn’t say that it was packed, but I was expecting a really silent and relaxing atmosphere, courtesy of when I visited the island 12 years back. Let me mention though, that what the resort lacked in terms of luxury, it made up for its beauty. Armed with its powder-white beach and blue-green waters, it will surely captivate one’s heart.

Me and my friends went swimming right away, and it was the perfect way to cap our summer. The boys got busy with grilling pork for our lunch, and we just ordered rice from the restaurant.

Day tour at the resort costs around U.S $2 per head, while overnight stay costs around U.S $2.50 per person. For people who want to stay the night, they can either rent a tent, around US $4 or they can rent a room for $18 a night. Considering that the boat ride alone takes around an hour, I highly suggest staying the night to make the trip worth it. The resort has a restaurant, so you don’t have to worry about where to eat.

I must say that Talicud Island is indeed very blessed. It’s not only surrounded by beaches, but really beautiful ones, at that. The water was very cool, the sand was powdery-white plus your view is the panoramic mountains of Samal Island right across. It was perfect, and I wouldn’t trade that trip for any other places.

isla reta

Leticia by the Sea

If you’re up for a luxurious resort though, I would suggest Leticia by the Sea. Also in Talicud Island, it’s definitely one of the resort I would visit if I can afford it. It’s quite expensive (without converting Philippine Peso to Dollars) but I’d say that it’s definitely worth it. We actually passed by Leticia by the Sea on our way to Isla Reta, and I drooled at how beautiful the resort is.

Leticia by the Sea has a couple of villas where guests can stay, plus of course, swimming at the beach whenever you please. The use of kayaks and pedal boats are included with the entrance fees, so you can go ahead and explore the sea in a different way.

For the adventurous. Leticia by the Sea offers island hopping for a reasonable price. They offer different island hopping packages, and it’s up to you which one you think’s the best. For room and island hopping rate, go here.

leticia by the sea

I’d Definitely Go Back

I wouldn’t argue if somebody would say that the island is far away – because it really is. The trip is quite inconvenient, but the beauty of the place really makes it worth it. If you want a quiet escapade while in Davao City, you should definitely visit Talicud Island.

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