The Kadayawan Festival 2013

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Colorfully clad street dancers entertain the crowds along the major streets of Davao City with their synchronized dances and breath-taking acrobatics

Davao City, 17 August 2013: I jumped out of bed as soon as the alarm of my mobile phone rang, put on some comfortable street clothes as I sipped my morning brew, grabbed my photography  gear, then drove off to the downtown area of Davao City.   It was only 7:00 am but, already, there were road blocks as traffic have been rerouted from major streets where the street dancing competition called “Indak-indak sa Kadalanan” was to be held.  I managed to get through some road blocks and park my car in front of Marco Polo Hotel where a stage has been set up for the preliminary street dancing performances before the competitors will dance their way to Rizal Park where final judging was to happen.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Under the watchful eye of security personnel, three costumed kids make their way to the assembly area

I was fortunate to be in town during this year’s  Kadayawan Festival which is celebrated on the second week of August each year.  Dubbed “the festival of festivals”, the Kadayawan includes festivities featuring the ten tribes that compose the indigenous peoples in and around the city.  The main activities include beauty pageants amongst these tribes; street dancing competitions; folk dances and cultural shows; a week-long “party on the streets”; a fluvial parade; an agro fair; and a floral float parade, among others.    The biggest activity is the street dancing competition which is also participated in by representatives from other provinces and street dancing champions from other regions.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

A mother prepares her young daughter for the competition

 As I walked into the competition area, I decided not to be a mere spectator of the final show.  There was so much story to capture among the participants as they assembled, prepared their costumes, waited  for their turn to perform on the streets, did their show in front of the judges, and then rested and waited for the results of the competition.  And so I constantly moved around, watching performers and spectators alike, mingling with the crowd, and chatting with interesting individuals whenever I can.  I tried to share the experience through the 26 photos I’m sharing in this post, but I know it will only show half the fun that I experienced.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Most of the street dancing contingents were organized and trained in schools and thus are mainly composed of school kids. This group sat patiently on the street as they waited for their turn.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

It was a sunny day and this group’s hat costume became useful as a shield against the heat

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Dressed in a Muslim attire, these kids manage the heat by moving into a face-down position the way Muslims do their prayers in mosques

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

As a group’s name is called, their drums start beating into a loud and lively beat

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Drums that get accompanied by gongs, cymbals, lyres and various other instruments

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

And then the dancers start pounding the streets to the beat of the instruments

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Group after group, they displayed their colors, dance moves and acrobatics

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Through their dance, costumes, music, chants and yells, they tell their story

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Stories about warriors and maidens…

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… about fairies that roamed their ancient kingdoms…

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… of lovely queens…

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

.. enchanting princesses …

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… and powerful sun gods.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

The peasant gatherer – farmer is a frequent character of the dances.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

And so are pretty young warriors …

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… flower fairies and jolly elves.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Into the arena, they dance-marched with confidence and grace.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… and then pulled out their long-rehearsed sequences.,

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

To the beat of loud drums, they danced to a frenzy of colors and moves.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

… and cap the dance with elegant acrobatics that leave the judges and photographers in awe.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

And then they retire back into a holding area where they wait for the result.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

As they waited, the effects of long rehearsals and many sleepless nights start to sink in.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

But many choose to stay awake to face judgement, ready to face battle again on the streets next year.

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