Kaamulan Festival is a founding anniversary celebration and a festival of indigenous people in the province of Bukidnon, Philippines held every 10th of March. A province-wide observance, it is a month-long celebration of history and culture.
History of Kaamulan Festival
Kaamulan Festival comes from the world amul, which means to gather. It celebrates the cultures and diversity of seven indigenous groups: Bukidnon, Higaonon, Manobo, Matigsalug, Talaandig, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. These ethnic groups once made settlements about the plains of the province. However, they were displaced by migration of people from other islands and areas in the Philippines. The conquest of the Spaniards also started in earnest in the early half of the 19th century. So indigenous people who were early inhabitants of the lands moved to the interior and upland territories and they were henceforth referred to as bukidnon, the people of the mountains.
First Kaamulan Festival
The first Kaamulan Festival was conducted on May 5, 1974. It was a religious fiesta in Malaybalay, the capital of the province, in honor of the patronage of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Worker). Then vice mayor Edilberto Mamawag introduced to the fiesta the showcasing of indigenous people and their ethnic cultures. A national coverage of the event inspired its expansion to a regional festivity in northern Mindanao on September 16, 1977. For years it had been held in September but it was moved earlier in the calendar, in the month of March, to coincide with the founding of Bukidnon.
Founding anniversary of Bukidnon
The beginnings of Bukidnon before the coming of the Spaniards are scant in historical records, but the native population had rich customs, tradition, oral history, and rituals. Starting in 1860, it was part of the province of Misamis. With the passage of Act. No. 1693 in 1907, Bukidnon and Butuan became sub-provinces of Agusan.
Kaamulan Festival chooses to remember the founding of the province every March. The anniversary coincides with the passage of Act No. 2711 on March 10, 1917 that reorganizes what was then the Department of Mindanao and Sulu that consisted of seven provinces of Agusan, Bukidnon, Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, Sulu, and Zamboanga. However, experts pointed out that Act. No. 2711 fixed the borders of Bukidnon. It became an independent province three years earlier on September 1, 1914 with the enactment of Act No. 2408.
Kaamulan Festival was cancelled because of the COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021. It was revived in 2022.
Kaamulan Festival Schedule of Activities
Kaamulan Festival schedule of activities is carefully curated to reflect the ethnic heritage, legacy, and traditions. Thus, it has given rise to a reputation of authenticity, where diverse cultures expressed through dance, songs, legends, rites, and rituals of indigenous people who reside in the province take center stage and are passed on to the next generation. It includes a space for depiction of ethnic rituals, ethnic sports, tribal wedding, art exhibits, and cultural presentations. Other activities may include competitions (chess, fun run, motocross, rodeo, dart), forums, food festival, fireworks display, and agri fairs.
Here are some of the mainstays.
One of the highlights of the festival, the parade proudly showcases contingents from different localities that participate in street dancing and float competitions. They depict specific cultural aspects of indigenous people, heritage, and history through their performances, costumes, and embellished floats.
Laga Ta Bukidnon
Laga Ta Bukidnon, also called Miss Bukidnon, is a beauty pageant. Each of the candidates is a representative of the localities. The winner is selected as the best candidate who espouses the values of being a woman of Bukidnon and a role model in preserving its indigenous cultures.
Piniliyapan Hu Bukidnon
Piniliyapan Hu Bukidnon translates Glimpse of Bukidnon. It is a cultural presentation that features the different groups of indigenous people and their way of life. It is usually held in Kaamulan Folkarts Theater in the city of Malaybalay that celebrates diverse heritage in dance, music, and other cultural expressions.
How to reach Bukidnon
Bukidnon is an interior territory without any coastlines. It can be reached through sea ports in Mindanao such as in Cagayan de Oro. Air travel requires arrival in one of the Mindanao airports such as Misamis Oriental, Davao City, or Cotabato City, and that would remain until the opening of Bukidnon airport in the years to come. And then bus trips are available to take you to the city of Malaybalay.
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- Cantal-Albasin, Grace. P2-billion Bukidnon Airport to be operational in 2023. Rappler. November 25, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2022
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- Kaamulan Festival 2021 is officially cancelled. Bukidnon News. March 5, 2021.