Friday, August 28, 2009

Kadayawan 2009: Other Events

Alright. After the grand opening, I returned to the hotel and found that my buddies all have freshened up and ready to roll! Whoa! Everyone fished out their copies of the festival activity schedules given by the tourism counter at the airport. (BTW, as I write this, a similar schedule in calendar format may still be seen at the Kadayawan website). It took us a few minutes (and some snacks) discussing/deciding where to go and what to watch for the rest of the day. Ah! Some events go off simultaneously at venues far from each other. aRgh!

Mindanao Travel & Tourism Expo
Anyway, we settled to go checkout the 4th Mindanao Travel & Tourism Expo held at the Davao Convention & Trade Center (referred to by locals as just “convention”). It’s the usual travel and tourism exposition that you see anywhere – booths promoting various localities, cultural performances, products, travel agencies and so on. However, we did not expect the participating exhibitors to be such a mix. We thought that the showcase would be just about around the Davao Region. Whoa, almost the whole of Mindanao was represented PLUS other places from Visayas and Mindanao were there too! Palawan, Iloilo, Guimaras, Negros, Camarines Norte even Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley! Wow!

Needless to say, as I busied myself asking around on what attractions can be seen at localities highlighted, my buddies busied themselves hoarding this and that! Oh hey, I liked talking to the men and women who manned the booths of MTIS (Mindanao Tourism Investment Summit). They’re very inviting! Am now considering a prospect that I saw in that booth!

The centerpiece of the convention center was a big relief map of Mindanao made from various materials where the towns and cities were represented by little red lights. Nice map! And of course, it became the “kodakan center” of the expo where virtually everyone had to have their pictures taken with that big big map as background! Also educational probably, since I saw kids closely examining the map with ohs and ahs as they discover relative distances between towns, cities, provinces, regions, mountains, lakes, etc.

I liked tinkering just about everything inside the ARMM’s Department of Tourism booth. The products and destinations of the whole region were widely represented. But something caught my curiosity… I saw sheets of legal-size paper printed with a colored schedule of what seemed to be days, dates and times titled “1430”. Hmm, I asked the lady manning the booth on what it was, if it was for sale, and how much. She readily told me that indeed those were schedules but being given free – prayer schedules for “Ramadhan 1430” from 22AUG to 20SEP09. Wow, since I did not know how the schedules are used, I asked her to explain them to me. As she did so, I realized that there were three different sets – reason why there were three piles! One was for Metro Manila, another was for Marawi and Lakeshore Towns and yet another for Cotabato City and Suburbs. I was amazed at such specificity of the times they pray. See, I learned something new by just popping in to an expo! And I like the quote at the bottom of each sheet, it says “The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace upon him, said: for one who fasts, there are two occasions for joy – Joy when he breaks the fast, and joy when he meets his Lord”. Interesting! Especially for the first occasion, all I could say was “oo nga naman”, if you did not fast, there was nothing to celebrate as it would have been a monotonous day-in and day-out, right?! But I know there is a deeper reason to fasting than just that quotation. I will learn more about that later! Oh hey, the lady patiently telling me all about it was… a DOT officer of ARMM! Thank you ma’am… Shukran!

Outside of the convention center were replica houses of some Mindanao tribes. Those too were a photo-op thingy where at times people had to wait in an “informal line” just to be able to shoot their pics! Hah! Probably because the floor was high up atop stilts, the police officers operating the area sought refuge in one of those houses – probably to catch the cooler breeze and for a good vantage at people below! Wise! But they did encourage folks to go climb up at where they were!

Also by the grassy lawns outside of the center, a Mandaya native garbed in that beautiful but expensive T’nalak cloth, spread trinkets and other wares for sale. People had fun learning that little musical instrument made of bamboo strip (sorry again, I forgot its name… “kubing”?). Even a local tourism officer of an LGU from somewhere in northern Mindanao joined in to learn how it is played!

Lunch, Sayaw Mindanaw, Dinner
Now now… our foray at the convention center took us more than the morning we almost forgot about lunch. So we hurried to nearby restaurants (this area is a restaurant row too btw) as it was already 2PM. All were still full. There was an available table at Harana but it was already outside in the open and under the sun. Whoa! People really went out to feast!

While checking out the restaurants walking under the hot noon sun, we also talked about where to go next. Obviously the “Kaan Mindanaw” at the museo was out due to time constraints. We were unanimous in omitting the “Fashion Extravaganza” about to stage at NCCC Mall 3PM. If we peeked at the “PANAGTAGBO”, we thought it would have been too short a time already. So, we took a cab and headed for SM Davao – for lunch and to await the Sayaw Mindanaw Finals.

At mid-afternoon with grumbling stomachs, our unwritten rule on meals still had to prevail… argh! That is “target the local restaurants where locals dine… if none can be found or is accessible, only then could we hit the fastfoods or those restaurants with branches in metro manila”. Therefore, we roamed SM for a “local” place to eat. But all were still full with diners. Fortunately, we stumbled upon Turquoise, a Turkish restaurant and we were almost sure it has no branch in manila yet since it was the first time we saw it. And it was not full to the brim!

So we went for Turquoise and immediately asked for the menu! OMG what a lucky chance! We were longing for this kind of food as it has been a long time since we all went for that Persian restaurant at the Valero Parking in Makati. Am not good at describing food BUT all I can say is we enjoyed everything we could get our hands (oops mouths) on! The hummus is good, the pita is good (called lawash?) and the dessert that one buddy ordered are to die for – even if am not a die-hard fan of desserts of any kind/type! Turquoise was a fantastic find! We were grateful that the restaurants near the convention center were bustling full cuz we wouldn’t have found Turquoise if they had space! Whoa!

We became hogs! Bingeing on food and even after the meal, we stayed where we were just to savor the interiors of this fine Turkish restaurant. The place is peppered with authentic Turkish pieces like lamps figurines etc! And the crews are very friendly. They allowed us to wallow in their restaurant since we said we would immediately leave if other patrons come in and there are no more available tables!

Well, we did not camp at Turquoise until the Sayaw Mindanaw happened. We took time to tirelessly roam the entirety of SM Davao (last time we were here, I was the only one who got off the van to visit an ATM machine hehe).

Then came the Sayaw Mindanaw. This contest must have been one of the most awaited events by the school kids – since whole battalions of them were there to watch. It is a contest amongst schools in the first place. It comes in two categories – elementary and high school. So, the throngs of youngsters naturally flocked to the venue to support their classmates and schoolmates. Plus, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and friends of friends also went there to watch. Thus, it became a big event. Big meaning there was a big big crowd of spectators that the activity center of SM was full to the rafters.

If I may suggest, next year they should hold it at a bigger venue – even bigger than the convention center. Preferably, it should be at some kind of grandstand where bleachers are like stairs for a better vantage amongst all who go to watch. Aha, when I mentioned that suggestion to a Davao-based friend, the reply was an astonishing “a basta I won’t let my kids join if its not an air-conditioned venue”. All I could say was “ang sosyal mo naman”!

At SM, it was rather a bit unpleasant for us mere tourists. The scheduled start of the event was 6PM. We were there at exactly 5:30PM and every inch of the place was already occupied by children and their families. Even the aisles were full with people. The guards were busy driving folks away from the passage/entrance way as even there, students started crowding. Those guards kept explaining that the area was to be used only as entrance and exit of the participating teams. Hmm, and, Filipino time, it started past or around 7PM hehe!

Good that there was an exhibit of some tribal costumes to the left of the activity center’s entrance. And it was cordoned off with those red velvet ropes. That, was the only place that remained empty! Well, the very entrance to the center (by the mall’s hallway) was not that crowded as it did not have a good vantage to the stage c/o the lighting and sound platform. So, we stood there to get snippets of the performing groups. As the contest progressed, children up front started standing – some even standing on their seats. That was it… we started to ‘not enjoy’ the event and many of us sporadically came and went to the department store across. I believe it would have been a good show to watch. From the few moves and effects I have seen, the storylines were good. Those kids did their best and I can say they must have practiced well. Some of the acrobatics were fantastic too!

Oh well, that event was not for us. We decided to leave after the first two contingents of the high school category was done. The standing, tiptoeing, and craning of our necks was too much. We were unanimous that we should have chosen the Panagtagbo. We must be growing old hehehe!

Dinner was at Bigby’s and we opted to drink our beers at the hotel so we could sleep early for tomorrow’s parade / street dance contest!


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