South Cotabato

Kalilangan Festival

Kalilangan Festival is the cultural festival and founding anniversary in General Santos City, Philippines every February 27. The city also celebrates the Tuna Festival every September.

History of Kalilangan Festival

Kalilang Festival was first held in 1989 within the term of Mayor Rosalita T. Nuñez and its first festival director was Bai Janena J.A. Tito. The successful organization of the festival paved the way to the creation of the City Tourism Division. Its name is derived from kalilang, a word in Maguindanaoan language that means to celebrate or commemorate. Kalilangan thus refers to a gathering, celebration, merry-making, or revelry.

Through the years, Kalilang Festival has become one of the largest events in the city. Organized by the local government and Mindanao State University, this yearly fest gives recognition to the cultural diversity and heritage of the city, highlighted by the harmony and solidarity of Christian, Muslim, and indigenous peoples (who are called the lumad).

It is also multi-awarded, garnering the Best Culture and Arts Tourism Event in Pearl Awards for three straight years in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Because of such achievement, it is recognized as Hall of Famer of the award-giving body. The Pearl Awards is given by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) and the Department of Tourism.

The city government put the fest on hold in 2021 and 2022 due to coronavius pandemic. Revival of this annual observance pushed through in 2023.

History of General Santos City

Furthermore, Kalilang Festival is the founding anniversary of General Santos City. The city is part of Region 12 which is also composed of Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat. This coastal area is located in the southern portion of Mindanao facing the Sarangani Bay.

In the past, it was called Buayan and it was one of the territories of then municipality of Glan. Long before the coming of the Spaniards, it was inhabited by the lumad called B’laan people, also known as Dadiangas.

The then town of Buayan was a site that the government through the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA) defined for the relocation of Christian Filipinos. President Manuel L. Quezon issued Proclamation No. 383 on February 11, 1939 that allowed the migration in the village of Lagao.

So on February 27, 1939, the first sixty-two Christian settlers on board the ship of Compania Maritima called Basilan disembarked in the shores of Sarangani and occupied the settlement area. They were led by General Paulino Santos. In the following decades, they would be followed by more migrants. And this is the date that Kalilangan Festival remembers as the founding date of the city.

Buayan became an independent municipal district on October 11, 1940 and the first mayor was Datu Sharif Zainal Abedin. After the war, it annexed the municipality of Glan through Executive Order 82 signed by President Manuel Roxas on August 18, 1947.

On June 15, 1954, Buayan was renamed General Santos after General Paulino Santos who was responsible in facilitating the migration of Christians from other places in the Philippines to Koronadal Valley. It was made possible by virtue of Republic Act No. 1107, authored by Representative Luminog Mangelen and otherwise known as “An Act Changing the Name of the Municipality of Buayan, in the Province of Cotabato, to General Santos.”

It became a city through Republic Act No. 5412 that was approved on June 15, 1968, and the inauguration took place in September 5 of the same year.

Kalilangan Festival Activities

The highlights of the Kalilangan Festival are the parade (Parada ng Lahi), street dancing competition (Kadsagayan) and the anniversary program that take place on February 27. Its weeks-long calendar also includes dance competitions of lowland and Muslims and indigenous people, traditional games (Larong Pinoy), agri fair, concerts, music events, sports, cultural and arts events, etc.

How to reach General Santos City

General Santos City can be accessed via air, land, and water. The most convenient is through General Santos International Airport.


Kalilangan Festival Summary

NameKalilangan Festival
Contact(083) 552 6791
DateFebruary 27
Historical eventArrival of the pioneering settlers in 1939
Indigenous peopleB'laan people
LocationGeneral Santos City, South Cotabato
OrganizerCity Government of General Santos, Mindanao State University