|Malaybalay celebrates richness
of land, tradition and spirit
|Author: By Mozart A.T. Pastrano
AFTER the deadly spiral twist down and up the
Mangima Canyons, the vista widens and the
heartbeat quickens. Frontier-like towns lie
languorous in the dusty daze. Cornfields sparkle
in the late afternoon sun, rippling toward
mountain peaks seemingly a stone’s throw away.
A lone, long bridge renders you breathless as
you espy the chasm of so many hundred feet and
the rocks and bubbly springwater at the foot of
This is the way to Malaybalay, the capital city of the agricultural haven that is
Bukidnon province in Northern Mindanao—bewitching Malaybalay that
beguiles you with its brew of beauty and bravado.
And such a brew is celebrated with much fervor during the annual Kaamulan
Festival. Originally held in September, the festival is now scheduled in
March—purportedly because of the heavy rains in the "ber" months but actually
to coincide with the charter day of Malaybalay as a city. The festival showcases
the color and cacophony as well as the vigor and vitality of indigenous customs
The Kaamulan pays homage to the seven hill tribes in the area: the Talaandig,
Higaonon, Umayamnon, Manobo, Tigwahanon, Matigsalug and Bukidnon.
"The word ‘Kaamulan’ means gathering, and this festival is a gathering of our
indigenous peoples as they share with us their rituals and lifeways," Northern
Mindanao tourism director Dorothy Jean B. Pabayo told the press people who
attended this year’s festivities under the auspices of industry leader Globe
The rituals range from courtship to wedding ceremonies to thanksgiving feasts.
There were also dramatic presentations of tribal oral traditions, an evening of
indigenous songs and dances, a picturesque parade and a trade fair.
At daybreak during the festival proper, tribal datus performed the pamalas. A
rite to ward off evil, it was just the perfect preface to the orgy of street dancing
Barefoot tribal folk in warrior getup trooped to the streets to the tune of the
agong and bantula. Tiny bells woven into their bracelets and beaded anklet
tinkleas they moved.
At the Kaamulan Park, representatives of the seven tribes and Bukidnon
municipalities performed tribal dances such as the Bangkakaw, Dugso,
Tinaklaran, Binaylan and Nilibong. There was also mimetic like the Binakbak,
Binanog and Bubudsil.
In between the tribal dances, the datus also performed the pangampo, a rite of
worship before, in between and after offerings to the gods. (Dances are
considered such offerings.)
As it happened, the contingent from San Fernando town won first place, while
Maramag town placed second. Incidentally, both winners shared a
choreographer: veteran dance teacher Edsel Quemado.
Although the judges found the music and dance steps of the other groups "not
authentic", they still gave away consolation prizes to Pangantucan and Kibawe
towns. Central Mindanao University received the prize for most symbolic
presentation; Bukidnon National High School, most relevant; Bukidnon State
College, most interpretative; Valencia National High School, most
But the Hall of Fame award went to the City of Malaybalay.
"What’s exciting about the Kaamulan is that it’s a festival celebrating living
traditions, and the dancers are given the chance to showcase their own
cultures," enthused Malaybalay’s tourism officer Ella B. Barroso.
Another highlight of the festival was the inauguration of the Bukidnon Folk Arts
Theater, an open-dome structure that can accommodate 2,000 people. It is a
project of Bukidnon tourism board chair Amor Fortich, who declared, amid the
whirl of dances and songs and laser show that opened the theater: "Here we
will showcase the rich talents of the Bukidnon people."
Rich is the word. Bukidnon, the agricultural food basket of Mindanao (it can
feed even the entire country) nurtures both body and spirit with its beauty,
[ Mindanao State University Wiki ]