Maguindanao del Norte

Meguyaya Festival

Meguyaya Festival is a cultural festival in the town of Upi in the province of Maguindanao del Norte, Philippines every December 22. It is a celebration of harmony and unity, and it is also a convergence of the different local cultures particularly of the indigenous people called Teduray.

History of Meguyaya Festival

Meguyaya Festival was launched by the municipality of Upi in 2003. Its name comes from the word meguyaya, a word in Teduray language that means thanksgiving for a good harvest. It was organized to showcase cultural diversity and gathering of three groups of people namely the Christians, Muslims, and Tedurays who are categorized as lumad (native or indigenous). In addition, it was also created to raise the profile of the town as a tourist destination.

Contingent of the Meguyaya Festival has been participating in Aliwan Festival. It had won several plum prizes including second place in 2014, fifth place in 2015, third place in 2016, and fourth place in 2018.

The Teduray of Upi

Teduray comes from the words tedu, which translates to hometown (where one originates from, is born, or lives), and ray, which is derived from the word daya which means upper part of a river. They live in the southern Philippines and constitute one of the major indigenous groups there.

Their livelihood is primarily agricultural, hunting, and fishing. They are also known for their handicrafts such as hand-woven baskets. Their population retains ethnic culture and beliefs, though some of them have converted to Christianity and Islam.

Other provinces where they can be found are Agusan, Bukidnon, Davao, Cotabato, Lanao, and Sultan Kudarat. In Maguindanao, their communities are in Ampatuan, Dinaig, South Upi, and Upi.

Upi is characterized with upland areas. Formerly, it used to be part of Dinaig of the historical, large province of Cotabato. During the American colonial period, it was marked for agriculture due to its vast fertile lands. Irving Bryant Edwards, an American captain, put up the Upi Agricultural School on August 19, 1919.

After the war, it was separated from Dinaig. On June 10, 1955 it was established as a separate municipality through Republic Act No. 1248 that was signed into law by President Ramon Magsaysay. Maria Badoy was installed as an appointed leader of the new town, and in 1956 the Teduray leader Tenorio Labina became Upi’s first elected mayor.

Meguyaya Festival Activities

Meguyaya Festival is participated not only by townsfolk but also contingents coming from nearby towns. Highlight of the fest is the street dancing. It features performers wearing the proud attire of their people, wearing native accessories such as bilao and biton, and dancing to the beat of traditional music instruments such as agong and kulintang.

In 2019, it also had ‘eat-all-you-can’ corn called Maisan Na! The event was symbolic of the corn production in the town. Participants brought corncobs to grilling station, and they consumed them on site.

One other highlight is the Search for Meguyaya Futli, the prestigious beauty pageant of the town.

How to reach Upi, Maguindanao del Norte

Book a flight to Cotabato Airport and then take a bus to Maguindanao.


Meguyaya Festival Summary

NameMeguyaya Festival
CelebrationCulture, Indigenous people
DateDecember 22
Duration1 week
Indigenous peopleTeduray
LocationUpi, Maguindanao del Norte
OrganizerMunicipal Government of Upi