Kalimudan Festival is the biggest yearly cultural festival and founding anniversary of the province of Sultan Kudarat, Philippines every November 22. A week-long event or longer, it is a festival that witnesses the gathering of people from different places in the province into Isulan, its capital.
History of Kalimudan Festival
Kalimudan Festival comes from the kalimudan, a word in Maguindanaoan language that means coming together or gathering. It is an expression of thanksgiving as well as to showcase the vibrant culture of its people. The first Kalimudan Festival was launched in 1999 within the term of governor Omar Pax Mangudadatu during the province’s 26th founding anniversary.
History of Sultan Kudarat
In the past, it was part of the sultanate of Maguindanao that resisted foreign rule throughout much of the Spanish colonial period. On June 1, 1903, it was part of the Moro Province created by virtue of Act No. 787. The Moro Province however was abolished through Act No. 2408 of July 23, 1914, and Department of Mindano and Sulu was created.
In September of the same year, North Cotabato was founded. It was the largest province at that time. Then on November 22, 1973, it was split to give way to the establishments of two other provinces, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat, through the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 341. This is the date that Kalimudan Festival commemorates.
Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat
Kalimudan Festival also remembers Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, one of the powerful Muslim leaders in Mindanao during Spanish colonial period and after whom the province was named. Born in 1581, his rule began after the death of his father in 1619 and he became the seventh head of the sultanate of Maguindanao, a vast territory that included the present-day provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Sur.
Starting in 1570s, the Spaniards waged battles against Muslim chieftains in Mindanao to expand the colony. While they could claim victory time and time again, their hold in the island of Mindanao was tenuous as they could not put up an extension of the growing Philippine colony in that part of the archipelago. In turn, Muslims launched destructive campaigns in what was called Moro raids. Their fast-sailing ships attacked settlements particularly those that converted to Christianity, plundering and burning villages and capturing people to become slaves.
Throughout the life of Sultan Kudarat, his relationship with Spanish authorities was fraught. He engaged with them through the pursuit of truces, and then at times he opposed their rule. In the 1630s, the Spaniards erected forts in a few parts in Mindanao to fend off the escalating Moro raids. In 1637, Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera defeated Sultan Kudarat. The sultan survived as he and his retinue retreated to the interiors. Later, he returned to Maguindanao and reclaimed his rule.
In 1653, the sultan sent an envoy to the newly installed governor general Sabiano Manrique de Lara to negotiate the return of weaponry that were confiscated and his people who were captured in 1637. His demands were not granted. Instead, the Spanish governor sent Alejandro Lopez to demand that the sultan fulfill the treaty he entered previously in 1645 that would allow the colonizers to build a church in his territory.
The Spaniards attacked the sultan in 1656. Among the reasons were the killing of Lopez (although reportedly not upon the orders of Sultan Kudarat), the Moro raids organized by Muslims in Jolo, and the intercepted messages from the sultan to other Muslim leaders encouraging them to join his cause against the Spaniards. He was defeated but escaped to the inland. The Spanish forces had to withdraw back to Luzon upon the threat of invasion of Manila by Chinese Zheng Chenggong, and Sultan Kudarat lived to the ripe age of 90 years old and died in 1671.
Kalimudan Festival Activities
Several activities of Kalimudan Festival may start as early as the first week of November like opening ceremonies, art exhibits, games, and others. Some of them may last until the end of the month too such as the agri-trade fair, daily entertainment and variety shows, and sports. Important events fall on the 22nd of the month, the day which is dedicated to remembering the beginning of Sultan Kudarat as an independent province. On that day, many grand events are conducted such as street dancing called Sayawan sa Kalye, anniversary ceremony, grand battle of festival called kambeli which is a showdown of the cultural festival dances of contingents coming from the different localities of the province, etc.
The calendar of the fest includes musical shows, concerts, multi-faith/ecumenical religious services, motorcade, and sports events such as basketball, shooting fest, tennis, talent contests, traditional music, and days dedicated to sectors of society such as senior citizen, children, women, and teachers. And one of its glitzy activities is the Mutya ng Sultan Kudarat, a prestigious beauty pageant that celebrate the intelligence, magnetic presence, and grace of the women in the province.
How to reach Sultan Kudarat
One take a bus from major city centers in Mindanao like Cotabato City, Davao City, and General Santos City. If you are flying in, book a flight bound for Cotabato Airport.
- Llabore, Dann Lawrence. Get to know SOCCSKSARGEN: The Kalimudan Festival. International Year of Indigenous Languages. October 22, 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- This week’s festivals: Nov. 17 to Nov. 23. Philippine Daily Inquirer. November 17, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Kalimudan Festival 2017 Schedule of Activities | Sultan Kudarat. SOXPH.COM. October 2017. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Hawkley, Ethan. Revisiting the Reconquista in Southeast Asia: Moros and the Making of the Philippines, 1565-1662. Journal of World History , June/September 2014, Vol. 25, No. 2/3 (June/September 2014), pp. 285-310. University of Hawai’i Press on behalf of World History Association. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Saber, Mamitua. Maranao Resistance to Foreign Invasions. Philippine Sociological Review , October 1979, Vol. 27, No. 4 (October 1979), pp. 273-282. Philippine Sociological Society. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Limos, Mario Alvaro. Sultan Kudarat: The Philippines’ Most Powerful Sultan. Esquire. July 3, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Act No. 787, June 01, 1903. Supreme Court E-Library. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Act No. 2408, July 23, 1914. Supreme Court E-Library. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Presidential Decree No. 341, s. 1973. Official Gazette. Retrieved October 8, 2022
- Hornales, Andrew. Sultan Kudarat pinaghahandaan ang dalawang malalaking pagdiriwang. Philippine Information Agency. November 6, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2022