Kadayawan Festival
Fpj455, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kadayawan Festival: Davao’s Spectacular Celebration You Shouldn’t Miss

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  • Post last modified:January 11, 2023
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When you hear the word festival, you instantly think about celebration, fun, and excitement. Davao’s Kadayawan Festival gives you all of those and more.

The said festival is the most anticipated festival in Davao, with thousands of people attending it. 

From the energetic street dances to the beautiful giant floral parade, the Kadayawan Festival has a lot in store for you.

But what exactly happens during the Kadayawan Festival? Where’s the Kadayawan Festival place of origin? What makes this festival so special?

In this article, we will talk about the festival and the Kadayawan Festival place of origin. We will also talk about what makes this event special.

What Is Kadayawan Festival?

Source: Rappler

Kadayawan was derived from the word madayaw which means valuable, good, and superior. The festival is generally held to celebrate life. According to Rappler, the said festival also serves as thanksgiving for “nature’s gift, a wealth of culture, and bounties of harvest and serenity of living.” 

Done annually during the third week of August, people from Davao hold the festival to thank and pay tribute to the Lumad, a collective term describing the indigenous people in the city.

In particular, the Kadayawan Festival honors the 11 tribes living in the city: Ata, Iranun, Bagobo-Klata, Kagan, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Maguindanaon, Matigsalog, Maranao, Tausug, Ovu Manubo, and Sama.

Moreover, the said festival involves four aspects of celebration: tribal, industrial, arts, and entertainment. 

One of the highlights of the festival is the quest for Hiyas ng Kadayawan. Unlike other beauty competitions, the contest looks for a young woman who fully understands her culture. 

Other events people look forward to during the Festival include Tribuhanong Dula (indigenous people and Muslim games), Tribuhaning Pasundayag (tribal cultural show), and Subang Sinugdanan (fluvial parade).

However, the most anticipated event― Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan― is held during the weekend. During this event, people from different parts of Mindanao showcase their amazing dance moves. They match it with spectacular sounds and colorful costumes. 

Kadayawan Festival Place of Origin

Kadayawan Festival place of origin
Source: Pinterest

The famous Kadayawan Festival originated from Davao. 

Interestingly, the festival’s concept came from the pagan beliefs of Davao’s ethnic tribes. Back then, ethnic tribes would gather at the foot of Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest mountain. They would perform rituals to thank the nature gods Manama and Bulan. The tribes also did this to celebrate the abundance of crops. 

In particular, tribes displayed vegetables, fruits, flowers, rice, and other crops in front of their homes. They would place them on top of mats. In addition, they sang and danced. 

In the 1970s, former Mayor Elias Lopez encouraged Davaos’ ethnic tribes to perform their thanksgiving rituals in front of the public. Years later, in 1986, the local government launched a project with a goal to unite the people during Martial Law.

The said project gave birth to Apo Duwaling. Named after the three wonders in the region― Mt. Apo, waling-waling, and durian― the festival became a hit among the public. 

Two years later, in 1988, former Mayor Rodrigo Duterte officially renamed the celebration Kadayawan Festival. 

For the safety of the people during the pandemic, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte led the celebration of the Festival virtually for the years 2020 and 2021.

Kadayawan Festival Food

Aside from the Kadayawan’s events, local and international tourists alike anticipate the festival food as well. 

Given Kadayawan’s popularity, we should not wonder why people serve many food varieties during the festival.

Here are the top four Kadayawan Festival inspired dishes that you can replicate at home:

Tuna Empanada

tuna empanada recipe

A mouth-watering twist to the regular chicken empanadatuna empanada makes use of Davao’s most popular fish. 

Also a crowd favorite, tuna includes a lot of nutrients that the body needs. Plus, people find the fish delicious and versatile. 

Given these, we created a Kadayawan recipe that you can make from the comfort of your own home. As an alternative, you can make and sell this delicious dish. It will be a hit!

Black Rice Energy Bar

Recipe For Energy Bar Using Organic Black Rice

During ancient Chinese times, people considered black rice as extremely nutritious and unique that only royalty could have it. 

Despite its Chinese origin, black rice is paired with delicious dishes during the Kadayawan Festival. The unique rice effortlessly made its way into Filipino culture. 

Thanks to its mild nutty flavor, many nutrients, and chewy texture, black rice can be paired or made into various dishes.

This fragrant, special black rice energy bar recipe lets you enjoy one of Kadayawan’s best flavors without flying to Davao.

Mangosteen Pie

mangosteen pie

While mangosteen is notoriously known for staining clothes, no one can deny its delicious flavor and health benefits. 

Not only will mangosteen delight your taste buds, but it contains dietary fiber, vitamin C, and minerals (e.g. magnesium, manganese). Plus, mangosteen has low calories. It does not contain cholesterol and saturated fats as well― great news for weight archers out there. 

Since mangosteen is delicious and nutritious, we cannot help but make a Kadayawan-inspired mangosteen pie recipe

By making this pie, you bring the Kadayawan festival to your family and friends.

Durian Butter Cake

durian butter cake recipe

Last but not least on this list is the most famous fruit of Davao― durian. 

While we notoriously know Durian for its pungent smell, we can agree that its flavor and health benefits outweigh its smell. After all, we need to sacrifice to get great things, right?

So, if you are ready to taste one of the most delicious fruits in the world, try this delectable durian butter cake recipe now.

Trust us, trying this Kadayawan-inspired recipe is totally worth the smell. 

Pro Tip: Using fresh local ingredients to make the dishes above sets the tone for perfection. Plus, using local ingredients lets you appreciate the flavors of Kadayawan more.

Read Philippine Festival Guides by HICAPS


The Kadayawan celebration is an enjoyable, memorable, and Instagrammable festival that you should not miss.

However, as of writing, the pandemic prevents people from traveling and joining festivals. Mayor Inday Sara and her team celebrated the event virtually for 2 years now. While we want things to go back to normal soon, we might have to wait longer. 

Don’t be discouraged though. Take heart because you can still celebrate Kadayawan and relive its special events without flying to Davao. 

Try the recipes we prepared for you and let your loved ones experience the Kadayawan Festival at the comfort of your own home. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your kitchen tools and equipment and start cooking now!

Next, have you discovered the beauty of MassKara Festival in Bacolod City? Read our ultimate guide about this colorful festival here: MassKara Festival: The Ultimate Guide. How about the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon? Find out more about this festival here: Pahiyas Festival: Everything You Need to Know.

Here are a few more of the most popular festivals in Philippines. Check out “Famous Philippine Festivals: Highlights and Pasalubong” for all you need to know about them!


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