A First Timer's Guide to Davao's Kadayawan Festival

22 August 2017 Davao City, Davao del Sur, Philippines

Davao City is known for a lot of things: the country's highest peak in Mt. Apo, the land of majestic eagles, the home of the first Mindanaoan president of the country, the mouth-watering durian, it's transformation from a troubled city to a rapidly developing urban metropolis, and a lot more.

It's been only less than 24 hours since I was gallivanting around Davao and it was my first time to be there. The pleasure of getting the chance to celebrate the vibrant beauty of Kadayawan Festival, and taking in the Mindanaoan culture, was really a blast and an experience that I will never forget.

Why Kadayawan Festival?

The Philippines is rich with excellent celebrations of our nation's rich culture and religious tradition. In fact, the Philippines is a country of fiestas. There is the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio, the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, Iloilo's Dinagyang Festival, Ati-atihan in Kalibo, and countless others. While every festival has its own style and unique charm, Davao City's Kadayawan Festival sets itself apart.

Davao's Kadayawan Festival is "the celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, and bounties of harvest and serenity of living." The festivity is a week-long festival which is celebrated every 3rd week of August. Arturo Boncato Jr., the former assistant secretary of the Department of Tourism sums up Kadayawan in 8 words: "Kadayawan shows a city with a great soul," and it was indeed.

Fun Fact #1: Kadayawan is derived from the Mandaya word “madayaw,” which means “good, valuable, superior, or beautiful.”

Fun Fact #2: Kadayawan Festival was previously titled as "Apo Duwaling" which comes from three things which Davao is known for: Mt. Apo, Durian, and waling-waling

Fun Fact #3: Kadayawan is the one of the few festivities in the Philippines that is not a Catholic Celebration.

Fun Fact #4: It showcases the diverse vibrant color, culture, and the unification of the ethnic tribes that lived together harmoniously. The 11 tribes living in the city were: Ata, Bagobo-Klata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Iranun, Kagan, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Matigsalog, Ovu Manubo, Sama, and Tausug.

Indak-Indak Sa Kadalanan & Pamulak Sa Kadayawan

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan (Street Dancing Parade) and the Pamulak sa Kadayawan (Floral Float Parade) are the main highlights of the Kadayawan Festival where the downtown streets of Davao City suddenly pulsate with vivid hues and tones, pounding of the drums, and the gentle yet lively kulintang and agung music.

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan is the showcasing of dance contingents from the different regions of Mindanao. It's the people's celebration and merriment trough choreographed and theatrical street-dancing completion anchored on indigenous garbs, cultural performances, and wit.

Pamulak sa Kadayawan boasts the blooming and lush flora in a float parade competition teeming with artistry as the floats impress the festival's theme and blessings of bounty.

There's a lot more to Kadayawan than the parade.

There's a lot of food, music, and a lot more. Certainly, the Kadayawan Festival does not disappoint. You are in for an eargasmic and gastronomic treat at the same time! Feast your eyes on the local art and beauty. Appreciate the richness of local music and talent. Trust me, you're most likely want to dance along as the music plays on.

Top Tips for A Great Kadayawan Festival

  • Pick your procession - The street dancing parade and the float parade (Pamulak sa Kadayawan) usually starts in front of Marco Polo Davao and Ateneo de Davao at around 8am. All the activities are fun, but check times and locations so that you don’t miss the ones likeliest to strike your fancy.
  • Consider your view - What is most important to you during a parade? Proximity to a bathroom? Somewhere to sit? A prime spot for your kid on the sidewalk? Do a little research to avoid disappointment. The best and most secure view of the parade is from the stage reserved for Marco Polo in-house guests. The parade scene gets rowdier and more crowded as the parade approaches.
  • Wear a comfortable attire - There's nothing more arduous than picking the wrong outfit and shoes when you're out there baked under the sun. Bring a hat or umbrella too.
  • Keep an eye on your valuables. It's a festival so expect a lot of people to be there. You don't want your phone getting stolen don't you?
  • Embrace the chaos - Don’t stress too much about parade schedules or things going wrong. Kadayawan Festival is one long party. Surprises and goofs add to the fun and the memories.

Wrapping it up...

Kadayawan sa Dabaw is not just an ordinary festival. It's a one of a kind celebration that I have seen. It's heart-pounding, spine-chilling, vibrant, and beautiful. Kadayawan Festival is where everyone is at their happiest, most revelrous demeanor. And everyone is there for one reason: lasseiz les bon temps rouler, to let the good times roll.

What did you think of Davao's Kadayawan Festival? Have you attended the Kadayawan Festival before or do you feel inspired to visit? If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment in the box below.

Want to read more about my time in Davao? Check out

Disclaimer: My media trip to Davao has been sponsored by AirAsia with the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines and Department of Tourism. All photos, recommendations and views are my own.


  1. Wow, nice post here, Charlotte. As a Davaoeño, thank you for this very nice post. God Bless

  2. Just seeing your comment now Marion. Even though this happened 4 years ago, I will never forget the vibrant culture of Davao. It was indeed a blast to get to experience Kadayawan. Hoping to return soon when Pandemic is over.


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