Davao Oriental

Sambuokan Festival

Sambuokan Festival is a founding anniversary celebration in the city of Mati, Davao Oriental, Philippines held every 29th of October. It is also a celebration of the ethnic customs and traditions of indigenous people who are residents of the city. It is a week-long celebration.

History of Sambuokan Festival

Sambuokan Festival comes from the word buok, which is a word in Mandaya language that means one or unity. Sambuokan Festival began in 2001. It was an initiative of Edith Nakpil-Rabat, beauty queen and assemblywoman. The festival was conceptualized as the city’s symbol of unity and to honor the city’s indigenous people.

History of Mati City

Sambuokan Festival commemorates the founding of the municipality of Mati, which took place during the American colonial era on October 29, 1903. It was established alongside the towns of Baganga, Caraga, Cateel, and Davao. Historically, however, Mati dates back to the Spanish conquest. It was a location that was explored by a man known as Nazareno who hailed from the neighboring place called Baganga, and its discovery occurred either in 1864 or earlier in 1861.

Mati later was converted into a component city of the province of Davao Oriental by virtue of Republic Act No. 9408 that became a law on March 24, 2007. From then on, it was called Mati City. Its name comes from maati, a Mandaya word that translates to “one that dries up quickly”. It was a description apt for the creek of Mati, whose water flow could disappear suddenly.

Sambuokan Festival Schedule of Activities

Sambuokan Festival activities include photo exhibit (called Dagway sa Sambuokan), trade fair, food-fest, entertainment, competitions, sporting events, musical shows, concerts, job fair, a day for indigenous people, talent shows and contests, parades, film fest, etc.

Here are some of the highlights.

Abunda Festival

Abunda Festival is a festival within the festival. Its name comes from abunda, which means in abundance or plenitude. It honors the fisher folks, livestock raisers, and workers in agriculture. Established through City Ordinance No. 500 series of 2021, it showcases the bountiful harvests of the city.

Indak-Indak sa Sambuokan

Indak-Indak sa Sambuokan is also known as Indak Sayaw sa Sambuokan. It is the street dancing competition of the festival, one of the pinnacles of the festivities and one of the culminating activities. It takes place on the day of the founding, which is the 29th of October. Participants include students of various schools of the city.


Pagkila is one of the highlights of the festival. Established through an initiative of then vice mayor Glenda Rabat-Gayta and launched in 2016, it gives recognition to past and present leaders who have given immense contribution to the progress and development of the city. The program as known in the festival schedule is dubbed as Pasidungog (translates to honors or recognition). Thus, the first recognition was known as First Pasidungog, which was also named simultaneously as Pag’kila 2016. In the process, it has become an opportunity to remember the colorful history of the city.

Pamukaw sa Sambuokan

Pamukaw sa Sambuokan, also called Diana, is an early morning wake-up call that usually occurs on the founding day. It is an activity that greets festival-goers on the culminating activities of the last day of the festival. Taking place 4:00 at dawn, it is characterized by the beating of drums around the premises of the city.

How to reach Mati City

One can book a flight from Manila or Cebu to Davao International Airport. From there, one can take land transport to Mati City. Buses ply the routes from different originating points in the island of Mindanao.


Sambuokan Festival Summary

NameSambuokan Festival
CelebrationFounding Anniversary
Contact(087) 388 3978
DateOctober 29
Duration1 week
LocationMati City, Davao Oriental
OrganizerCity Government of Mati