Inaul Festival is the biggest cultural festival in the province of Maguindanao del Sur, Philippines. It is held every February 14. It has a week-long calendar with opening activities occurring on the 9th and on some years even earlier. Activities take place in Buluan, the capital of the province. The festival celebrates the fabric-making inaul tradition of the people of Maguindanao.
History of Inaul Festival
Inaul Festival comes from the word inaul which translates to woven in the English language.
What is inaul?
It refers to the age-old practice of hand-weaving colorful inaul fabric which is a tradition in Maguindanao and has become a cultural symbol of its people. The act of weaving is considered “highest form of artistic expression”, and the skill is taught and passed from one generation to the next.
Yards of the textile are created using backstrap wooden loom (such as the one used by weavers in the past) and hand loom. A thread called sutra derived from spider web was originally used for the making of the tapestry, raw materials for production of the fabric include cotton, rayon, and silk. In addition, the dyeing process is what brings out the colors. It is accomplished by coloring the threads by the use of assorted dyes, wrapping them with leaves of banana plant, and letting them sun-dry. It would take days for the weaving to be done and would take even longer in producing pieces with more intricate patterns.
The fabric is regarded as one of royalty and a status symbol. Its colors represent a universe of meanings: nobility is black, peace is green, purity is white, and royalty is yellow and orange. It is characterized by elaborate designs, some of which can only be worn by a person of noble lineage, and contains motifs that are derived from inspiration of stories and feelings. One particular design called lumbayan na ta’dman portrays yearning in the form of a woman awaiting for the coming of her lover.
Traditionally, it is made into a malong, the name that is used to refer to wrap-around dresses. Its use has expanded into tapestry, gowns, wedding dresses, and trousers. It has also been utilized in the making of tubao (kerchief), bags, purse, shawls, and scarf. Other accessories are as bed sheets, pillowcases, and table runners.
First Inaul Festival
The first ever Inaul Festival was launched within the term of Esmael Mangudadatu from February 9 to 14, 2017. Inaul Festival replaced the Sagayan Festival, which had been conducted in the province since 2012. The provincial government renamed the celebration to what it is presently known because sagayan was registered by Lanao del Norte at the Department of Tourism. See Araw ng Lanao del Norte.
The festival was conceptualized as a celebration of its culture and tradition; to give the limelight to inaul weaving; to foster peaceful co-existence of Christian, Muslim, and native populations in the province; and to promote the local tourism industry. Interest in inaul fabric had risen particularly among foreign textile markets such as China, Germany, and South Korea. In the Philippines, it was worn by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and introduced in fashion shows, beauty pageants, and glamorous events.
The launching of Inaul Festival increased the popularity of this ancient textile-making tradition, its promotion sparking an increase in its demand and price, and paved the means in connecting suppliers with traders from various parts of the country. Through it, programs were spearheaded to ensure the preservation of the inaul tradition such as conducting workshops for aspiring, young weavers and establishing the annual Kapag Inaul competition.
Inaul Festival Activities
Inaul Festival’s activities include religious affairs such as the exhibition of Qu’ran reading. It also has sporting events (such as mountain bike challenge), workshops (in photography, event organizing), forums, grand parade, talent contests, rodeo, entertainment shows, cultural shows particularly showcasing traditional musical instruments such as kulintang, and parties.
Dindang sa Lalan
Dindang sa Lalan is the name for street dance. It is an annual competition participated by contingents sent by the different localities of the province.
Inaul Expo is the yearly trade fair. Each of the local government units would decorate the booth assigned to them and display their locally made products.
Kapag Inaul is weaving competition of the inaul fabric. Aside from the prizes that the winners get, it is also an opportunity to display the creativity, techniques, and talent of the people of Maguindanao.
Palamata nu Maguindanao
Palamata nu Maguindanao is a beauty pageant. Each of the constituent localities send a candidate to the search. They also wear fabulous gowns made of inaul cloth.
Sagayan Dance Competition
Sagayan Dance Competition is one of the highlights of the entire fest. It comes from the word sagayan, which refers to war dance practiced among people inhabiting Lake Lanao. It is associated with the Meranao royalty. It tells the adventures, war, and triumphs of legendary hero, Datu Bantugan. The story is based on Darangen, an epic tale as well as an oral tradition. People perform sagayan in occasions such as weddings.
The dance features a man and a woman. The man, depicting the hero Datu Bantugan, wields a sword called kampilan, a shield, and pieces of shells and beads that create interesting sounds when the dancer moves. He is paired with a graceful female dancer who performs a dance called kasiduratan. They perform to the tune of kulintang (a traditional musical instrument) and percussion.
Sipa sa Manggis
Sipa sa Manggis (sipa means kick, manggis means sweet victory) is a traditional game in Maguindanao. Competing teams are made of eight players, two of whom are substitute players. Players wear dalapi in their right ankle and with which they kick a rattan ball to hit one of the boxes that are hung in various heights along a 10-meter platform. Boxes have corresponding points and those that fall to the ground are counted for the team that hit them.
How to reach Maguindanao del Sur
The fastest route is through a flight to Cotabato Airport, also called Awang Airport, and take a bus or van to take you to the province. Ferries are also scheduled from various ports in the island of Mindanao, and once docked you can take a bus.
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