Friday, August 28, 2009

Kadayawan 2009: INDAK-INDAK SA KADALANAN

This is the much-awaited street dancing parade and competition. And we were more than ready for it. As early as 7AM we were at the lobby (cum cafe) of the hotel, settled at tables nearest the glass wall so we could see the goings on out in the street. It was already closed to traffic with only parade officials allowed to drive around.

Preparations were in progress as we enjoyed our breakfast at the café. Some eager spectators took their positions at the sidewalk just outside our hotel. But it was far from a thick crowd as you would see anywhere during Sinulog. There were men in motorcycles patrolling the area and checking readiness of the street. Volunteer students from the Red Cross scattered in the entire length of the parade route, a team stationed at a table just outside our hotel.

Then it came… first indicator was the ear piercing noise of sirens and horns blaring from police cars and motorcycles which we all know is always front of a parade. It got nearer and nearer our hotel. Suddenly… swoosh! Without saying a word to each other, we all disappeared unto the street to take our various vantages, leaving our dear delectable breakfasts and hot chocolate cups in solitary wait at our tables!
Here is another reason why The Royale House was a good choice for us. The Kadayawan parade (like most festival parades) does not come in a neat flowing succession. There would usually be gaps, many times big, from one team to the next. This is caused by the nature of the street dance sequences where many times they are relatively stationary – either by way of the choreography or because there is a judging station. Thus, while waiting for the next team to pass by, we would find ourselves trickling back into our tables to continue the abruptly abandoned breakfast hehe!

Our out-and-in runs to the street and the hotel’s lobby halted at lunchtime. Why? Uniquely, festival organizers literally halt the parade at 12NN. The groups then get their chance to take lunch – usually packed meals in styropacks. Some contingents would flock to a designated lunch area while most will do it right where 12NN caught up with them. At least many of them would sit by the sides of the street to stay away from the scorching heat of the sun.

Thus, with the “pause” in the parade, lunch for us was a merry boisterous event at the lobby of our hotel, which was overcrowded hehe! The crews had to put out more tables and chairs to accommodate people who suddenly appeared for lunch! Hey, some of our lunch plates and drinks overlapped with what remained of our unfinished breakfasts and morning snacks! That meant, our breakfast table remained to be ours until the parade was over in the afternoon!

How hot was the Davao streets during Kadayawan 2009? Probably in the 30s, but hear this… as we were having lunch (and the performing teams too), fire trucks suddenly appeared hosing water to the now empty streets! People even cheered them! Some of us went to check it out. I approached one fireman and asked what was the hosing for. He said it was to cool the street down, as it was too hot a day. And they did that for the entire parade route. Whoa, the pavement easily dried out, so they even repeated the procedure! Nice act! I wish they’d do the same during Sinulog. Then again, the parade does not pause for lunch over at Cebu hehe!


What about the street dance and the street dancers? Well, fairly regular like in other festivals. The movements in their dances are not as complex or jaw-dropping as one would see at the Dinagyang. Yep, there were a lot of big and small props but they’d appear to be newbies if compared to Sinulog or Dinagyang. In this Kadayawan, there were less of the climbing and jumping and running acrobatics. Fluidity and synchrony of group movements are generally far from how it is over at Sinulog or Dinagyang. The Kadayawan is more like (but a little more fantastic than) the Kalilangan. This is not to say though, that it lacks luster. I found many curious things in this festival. Like? Well...

Parents, sometimes entire families of a single performer have this habit of going with them the entire parade route. No problem with that, except that they block your view – especially if you’re sitting on the sidewalks! Hard to take pictures, so the tourist has no choice but walk to the center of the street for this – to the dismay of organizers hehe. So parents, leave your children alone… or walk not with the performing group or where your child is. The sidewalks would be fine, or if there’s no space for walking (as at times it can really be crowded), position yourselves at the back or end of the group. That is not very far for you to run to your child should he or she faint. Then again, why not ensure that your children are healthy and strong for the Kadayawan. That way you can sit and watch on a sidewalk confident that your child will live through this “ordeal”!

Sit on a sidewalk?! Well thankfully yes. At the Kadayawan, you can still find sidewalks that are not too crowded where you can sit on the pavement to watch the parade. These are most especially on open sunny hot spaces of the parade route hehe. At least there still is something like that. At the Sinulog, none, everywhere is a crowd hehe!

My favorite and that of many tourists too, was Group No. 17. Am not sure if they were in competition. If they were, I was already sure they won’t have won. But, I did not care about choreography or dance routines… these are true natives of a still existing tribe on the outskirts of the city. Their “music” captivated everyone! See the video below for more!


Oh, Group No. 12 was quite a learning for me. This is a group of high school students, teachers and town officials from Malabang, Lanao Del Sur. While not very much fantastic on movements and choreography, their street dance evoked a story that you did not have to decipher. Fortunately for me, this group was right in front of me when a pause/gap happened in the parade. They could not move on as the group ahead was performing in stationary mode. So it was time for them to rest, drink and do some retouches – which was also time for me to move-in and get to know them better. I approached and asked a healthy-looking lady wearing a similar attire and busy helping some girls with the costumes and make-up.

“I know that Muslim women do that semi-pout and raise their chins high up when they dance, but what does that really mean?” so I asked. The enthusiastic reply was “oh we Muslim women are beautiful, we are confident about it, we are strong-willed and proud of who we are… that is why we let it be known to other people especially the menfolk… we never have to flirt because we know who we are and men out there will surely like us”! Hmm, I loved that explanation, and in straight English! Wow! Moreover, I learned from this kind lady that in the past, Muslim women (of Mindanao at least) actually went around town in that kind of stance or posture. Now, she says, it is only highlighted in dances or performances.

After checking a girl’s malong, I exclaimed to the lady half-realizing half-asking, “these are authentic malongs, they are woven, not printed”. She beamed with pride telling me, “yes, they are… most of these are very valuable heirlooms cared and kept by their mothers and only used during very special occasions and festivals like this”! She continued to tell me that even those used as sash by the male performers are as valuable and rarely commercially available nowadays. She said that was one reason why the malongs are not very “uniform” as it is and should never be in real life. Whoa! I did not realize that until I looked closely! From afar, some pieces would look similar but on closer look, the designs vary or the colors slightly differ. The unique thing about their malongs (those that I got to tinker with anyway) is that the more expensive handwoven fabric are stitched into some kind of silk or a similar cloth that I only see in wedding gowns!


Then I said, they must be expensive… she lightly smiled as did some girls near us and said “yes they are… but none of them, even their parents will easily sell any of these… they’re like jewelry handed down from generation to generation”. She told me though that there are malongs of similar kind that can be bought all over Mindanao. I posed a hypothetical question that if and when one of these malongs were to be sold how much would it be. Still beaming with pride she pointed to a green colored malong on one girl and said “the likes of those can be around 45 to 50 thousand pesos”. I almost choked on my saliva! And she continued with “but there are cheaper ones, (and pointing to a gold colored malong she says…) like that one, that should only be about 9 thousand pesos”! Smiling at the realization, all I could think of was “Oh My Allah” hehe!

Since the kind lady got busy with other girls and it would have been awkward for me tailing her, I asked another lady if each girl owned her malong. She smiled and the look in her face seemed to be saying “are you crazy?” but she willingly told me “no, most of these are owned by affluent or royal families in Lanao”! I further learned that the similar-colored pieces would usually belong to a number of women in one clan! Wow!



Then Bong Revilla (yes, the senator) came by… and I don’t know why hehe! It was not clear to us if he was part of the parade or just passing by on the way to the final performance area. Of course he still is an actor with a good following of women, girls, gays and even hunks that a commotion would ensue as he passes. Everyone wanted to touch him or have a picture of him, with him whatever! Few people recognized that his son (also an actor now) was walking just behind him – not even I hehe! Only realized that when one of my buddies looked at the pictures I took!


Oh, lest I forget, Group No. 27 was a hit to the crowds and I really liked them. This is a jolly group of elementary school kids from Suralla in South Cotabato. Even when no particular person seemed to be looking at them directly in the eye, their level of performance and facial expressions remained the same – a smiling jolly pack of kids dancing in unison. They seemed to be authentically enjoying their dance/performance. And theirs was not pure dance. It included a lot of cheering and shouting as they danced. Told myself these kids were one of the best and should garner at least an award. Only to find out later, that in fact, they emerged as grand champions! I was not surprised!


Good parade, Kadayawan 2009!


Now here's a scattering of some more pics:
During the break, these cute little dogies paraded too hehe!



Owner, watching the parade, says he spray-painted it.
Whatever for?! Hindi nakakatuwa, not funny at all.















Hey finally, you ought to know this… if part of a street is not crowded, don’t be too sure you want to stay there. Chances are the groups would pass that area just walking and not performing! Yeah, sometimes you really have to gruel it out in the crowds hehe!

Alright, here's a concoction of my clips:

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