Kalivungan Festival

Kalivungan Festival is a cultural and harvest festival, a celebration of indigenous people, and a founding anniversary celebration in the province of Cotabato, Philippines. A week-long celebration, it is observed every 1st of September, which is declared as a nonworking holiday in the province.

History of Kalivungan Festival

Kalivungan Festival comes from the word kalivungan, which in the language of the Manobos means gathering or get-together. It previously had a different name in the past. It had been called Hinugyaw until 2010, a word in Hiligaynon that means loud, rapturous merrymaking.

It was in Kidapawan City, the capital of Cotabato, that the first Kalivungan Festival was held on May 8, 1974. However, financial resources for its activities dried up. Hence, it was not conducted starting in the year of 1984 and its revival was made possible only in 1996. Such a pause is said to have motivated some of its participant-leaders of ethnic groups to introduce similar festivity elsewhere through the Mindanao Highlanders Associations Inc. According to Jeffrey Tupas of Philippine Daily Inquirer, the group may have brought the template of the festival to Davao City, known for its annual Kadapawan Festival.

Kalivungan Festival was cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic in 2020. In 2021, it was revived and activities were made virtual for online viewing.

Ethnic groups in Cotabato

The festival is a celebration of diverse ethnic groups found in the province called lumad, a Bisaya word that means native or indigenous folks according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Lumad of the province include the groups of Aromanen, B’laan, Bagobo, Igorot, Ilianen, Kirintiken, Manobo, Matigsalog, Tagabawa, Teduray, and Tinananon. Major ethnic groups also include Muslim, Christians (mostly migrants from Visayas and Luzon), and Chinese.

History of Cotabato

Moreover, the festival is a celebration of the founding of Cotabato. In the past, it was a thriving settlement of various groups of indigenous populations and Muslims. Historically, it had resisted the Spanish colonization, giving rise to the name “Kuta Wato” (Stone Fort) from which its current name originated. It became part of Moro Province by virtue of Act No. 787 passed on June 1, 1903. It was during the American colonial era when Christian migration began in earnest by the prodding of the government. The Moro Province was dissolved when the Department of Mindano and Sulu was established through Act No. 2408 of July 23, 1914.

By September 1, 1914, the province of North Cotabato was created. It was the largest province at that time. In the next few decades, it was partitioned that gave rise to several provinces including South Cotabato (1966), Maguindanao (1973, divided into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur), and Sultan Kudarat (1973). And by virtue of Batasang Pambansa No. 660, it became known as Cotabato, with the “North” removed. Republic Act No. 10777 was promulgated on May 3, 2016 that declared every 1st of September as nonworking special holiday in the province.

Kalivungan Festival Schedule of Activities

Kalivungan Festival is a celebration of cultural heritage, diversity, unity, and the natural resources of Cotabato. It features art exhibit, trade fair, tourism expo, sporting events, job fair, cook fest, and street dancing showdown. Here are some of the highlights.

Himig, Sayaw at Kultura

Himig, Sayaw at Kultura translates to Music, Dance, and Culture. It is a cultural presentation by different schools from different localities of the province. Participants are students who are invited to perform traditional dance movements and other cultural shows.

Kavurunan Festival

Kavurunan Festival comes from the kavurunan, a word in Aromen-Menuvu language that means gathering. As the name suggests, it is a gathering of indigenous people who will showcase their culture, tradition, customs, and heritage through various cultural presentations. It is one of the highlights of the festival. Part of the event is Mutya ng Kavurunan, which showcase the beauty of indigenous people.

Kapagana Festival

Kapagana Festival comes from kapagana, a word in Maguindanoan that means to welcome. It is a showcase of the rich cultural heritage of Filipino Muslims in Cotabato and Maguindanao through music and dance. It is characterized with the use of traditional musical instrument called kulintang. It also includes the traditional game called Sipa sa Manggis.

Kumbira sa Kapitolyo

Kumbira sa Kapitolyo translates to Banquet at the Capitol. Festival-goers are invited as the government distributes meals as part of the festivities. It occurs on the last day on the schedule of activities.

Mutya ng Cotabato

Mutya ng Cotabato translates to Miss Cotabato. It is a beauty pageant for females. Candidates compete in different events to showcase the best of their abilities to win the prestigious title.

Parade and Showdown

Parade and Showdown is one of the culminating activities. It is characterized with street dancing, performances, and competition of contingents from various localities. Winners are declared and receive cash prizes.

How to reach Cotabato

Plane tickets are available for flights going to Cotabato City Airport. Bus trips are also available from various points of Mindanao.


Kalivungan Festival Summary

NameKalivungan Festival
CelebrationCulture, Indigenous People, Founding
Contact(064) 521 8080
DateSeptember 1
Duration1 week
OrganizerProvincial Government of Cotabato