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Malaybalay celebrates richness of land, tradition and spirit
Source: Inquirer
Author: By Mozart A.T. Pastrano
Date: 2001-03-26
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

the gorge.

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

and traditions.

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

Telecom, Inc.

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

that followed.

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,

bravado—and bounty.

[ Mindanao State University Wiki ]

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