Out of Cebu: Davao City and the Kadayawan – Day 2

After a fun and very educational first day, we were ready for day number 2 in Davao City. Call time was 7 am but most of us were already up by 5 am. We were instructed the night before to get up early because we had to grab some breakfast before checking out of the hotel. We learned that we will be moving to a much bigger hotel which is so much closer to all the action. So, after stuffing our tummies silly and placing our bags in the van, we were on our way to our first stop.

Davao City – DAY 2

Our first stop was a huge open space called Tionko Field. It’s very similar to the open sports spaces at the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City. But this one is sitting right next to a big body of river (which I later learned was the Davao River.) We arrived a bit early so we had plenty of time to roam around and meet people.

This make-shift docking station along the riverbank is where the boats drop off the Hiyas sa Kadayawan candidates. They will be arriving in their own boats after being parading along the river.

I saw these two lovely ladies in the shade. Like us, they were also waiting for the program to start. So I asked them if it would be okay to take their photo. They said, ‘sure!’

I also found this young girl waiting at the river bank. Her grandmother told us that she’s a grand-daughter of one of the deputy mayors. Deputy Mayors are the mayors that lead each tribe in Davao City. Her grandpa is on a boat together with their tribe’s hiyas.

Walking away from the bank, I saw people wearing different colorful costumes. I later found out that the clothes they are wearing are not costumes, but are in fact their traditional garb.

This group was practicing their blocking on the stage in the middle of the field. Luckily, they stopped what they were doing and automatically arranged themselves as soon as I asked to take their shot.

A few minutes later, I noticed that people started moving towards the river bank. The boats carrying the hiyas or jewel of each tribe have finally arrived. The Hiyas are pageant candidates that represent the 11 ethnic tribes of Davao City.

The Bagobo Tribe of Davao City

Each boat carries the hiyas, a couple of dancers, and some of the tribe’s leaders. Each boat is also adorned with the local/traditional colors of the tribe.

The Ovu-Manobo Tribe of Davao City

Each boat also carries musical instruments which are used to play the tribe’s traditional beats.

The Matigsalo Tribe of Davao City

You’ve probably seen a couple of Badjaos in Cebu. You can usually see them in the streets with their musical instruments. In Davao City, however, especially during the Kadayawan season, you will see them in their finest robes and traditional outfits.

While waiting for all the boats to arrive (and for the program to start,) I got a chance to approach some of the hiyas of each tribe for a photo.

Hiyas sa Bagobo

Hiyas sa Ovu-Manobo

Hiyas sa Matigsalog

Hiyas sa Kagan

Hiyas sa Maranao

Hiyas sa Maguindanaon

These men from the Maranao tribe are probably the most photographed during the event. Well, who wouldn’t want to take their photo? They are very easy to approach and they look really amazing in their traditional wear, too!

These men from the Maguindanaon Tribe are also very photo-worthy. Their traditional costumes are very colorful and interesting. And check out those head-gears. They are amazing! I probably took dozens of photos of these guys.

I walked around and I came upon the food kiosks at the edge of the field. The kiosks feature local delicacies and treats from each tribe. I never got a chance to taste any of the treats on display. But I learned later on that these goodies were handed out  for free! Nooo!

Several minutes later, the program officially began. The event was called Panagtagbo or convergence. Panagtagbo is basically the coming together of Davao City’s 11 moro and lumad tribes. Each year, they gather to celebrate their differences and the things that keep them all together. This, basically, is the very essence of the Kadayawan celebrations.

During the program, the Hiyas candidates from each tribe were presented. They were accompanied by their leaders (headed by the deputy mayor,) as well as some members of the tribe.

Sama Tribe of Davao City

Matigsalog Tribe of Davao City

Kagan Tribe of Davao City

Obu-Monovo Tribe of Davao City

Maguindanaon Tribe Tribe of Davao City

Bagobo-Klata Tribe of Davao City

Iranon Tribe of Davao City

Ata Tribe of Davao City

Here’s a video of Panagtagbo 2017.

We were not able to finish the event because of our tight schedule. So, with a heavy heart, we left the field and moved on to our next stop.

From the Tionko Field, we went straight to one of the city’s go-to places for pasalubong. Apo ni Lola is a pretty popular pasalubong shop that sells Davao’s best-selling delicacies and favorites. Of course, there’s the durian – available in yema, shake, and candy versions – which comes in all shapes and sizes.

Then, we were off to a wonderful local restaurant called Balik Bukid which is famous for using nothing but organic ingredients in their dishes.

Check out the pretty creative use of the local bakat! How cool!

And I guess you know what happened next. We were able to taste some of the restaurant’s best-tasting and best-selling dishes. We had garden-fresh salad, soups, pork belly, humba, and many more!



Pork belly, eggplant salad, and a nice serving of blue rice.

We even had farm-fresh sorbet!

After our hearty lunch, we were given at least an hour to just sit around and relax. Our guide said that our next stop was this beautiful old white house where we were set to meet someone really important.

An hour later, we reached our next stop. We found out that the big white house was actually a well-known restaurant in Davao City called, wait for it, White House! 🙂

It’s not your usual, average restaurant, though. The interiors are very classy and the service is just impeccable.

After several minutes, we were told that the Secretary of Tourism has finally arrived. She cleared her very hectic schedule just to meet the members of the Cebu media. How awesome!

Department of Tourism Secretary – Wanda Corazon Teo meeting members of the Cebu media.

It’s only 5 pm and we’re all about to have dinner! Here’s Team Cebu with the official DOT photographers.

Dinner was, as expected, splendid!



We had to have dinner at around 5 pm because we had to be at our next location early. We were watching the live coronation of Hiyas sa Kadayawan and we’re getting VIP tickets!

The Hiyas sa Kadayawan coronation was held at the Almendras Gym. The gym was already filled to the rafters even before we could find our seats. And there were very long queues outside even after the program had started.

Hiyas contestants smiling for their ever-supportive fans. The tribes came in droves to support their representatives. The cheers were so loud and so fun to hear!

Now, Hiyas sa Kadayawan is unlike any other pageant. The contestants are not judged based on beauty and poise alone. Instead, they are  also judged based on their talent as well as how well they understand and know their traditions, cultures, and history.

Spectators outside Almedras Gym watching the event live on a huge screen.

In the end, this lass from the Bagobo-Klata Tribe was named 2017 Hiyas sa Kadayawan.

After the event, it was time to head to our new hotel to finally call it a day.

Watch out for my remaining blogs about my 4-day stay in Davao City for the 2016 Kadayawan sa Davao celebrations. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to share it with all of you! Stay tuned!