KINABAYO FESTIVAL: Dapitanon’s Way of Honoring St. James the Greater

When I hear the word Dapitan, the first thing that comes to my mind is the National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. In fact, Rizal has become synonymous to Dapitan as this city became his home when he was exiled in Mindanao. But there’s more to Dapitan than just Pepe.

While the City is best known for its rich history, it is also home to some grand celebrations and festivals the city hosts every year. One of these is the Kinabayo Festival, a colourful celebration staged every year in honor of the city’s patron saint, Saint James the Greater, who is also the patron saint of the entire Spain.

Dapitan City is among the first territories in Mindanao colonized by Spaniards. Aside from the deep Catholic faith, the colonizers left the Dapitanons with a very extraordinary and unique legacy – the tradition and pageantry of Kinabayo Festival which was celebrated even back in the olden days. Kinabayo is a unique festival re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars particularly the Battle of Covadonga.

During the early years of the Spanish rule, Dapitan was still flooded by Moro pirates. To protect the Dapitanons from an attack of Moro invaders, the Jesuit priests made St. James the Greater as their patron saint with a strong faith that the Patron Saint will protect the town and the people from the invaders. Back in the fifth century in Spain, it was believed that there was an apparition of St. James the Greater riding a horse carrying a sword guiding the Spanish Christians to win the battle against the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga. After three centuries, St. James the Greater played the same part this time in the lives of the Dapitanons.

For quite some time now, Kinabayo Festival of Dapitan has become one of the most celebrated festivals in the whole Zamboanga Del Norte. Dapitanons have remained faithful to their devotion to their patron Saint and Kinabayo Festival is their great way of honouring him.

Celebrated on the feast day, July 25, a magnificent re-enactment of the Battle of Covadonga is staged before the city folk and a sea of tourists. Thousands of residents would gather at the city center not just to be entertained by the number of events lined up for the festival but also to show their devotion to their patron saint.

Kinabayo Festival has also become the most visited season in Dapiatn City. The celebration attracts tourists – both local and foreign – to come to the southern region to experience culture and tradition embedded in Kinabayo Festival. And those who come here, they don’t only enjoy the festivities but also got to enjoy the many amazing destinations Dapitan City has to offer.

Apart from Kinabayo Festival, Dapitan City is renowned being the home of Dakak Beach Resort, the most famous beach resort in Zamboanga Peninsula. Aside from Dakak, the city also hosts the Rizal Shrine and Park, a 16-hectare property where national hero Jose Rizal was exiled from 1892 to 1896. This has garnered the city as the Shrine City of Mindanao. Dapitan also houses the only Disney-themed family and recreational park in Mindanao, the Gloria’s Fantasyland de Dapitan.

Shout out of gratitude to the LGU of Dapitan City for the invitation for the Kinabayo Festival most especially to Ms. Apple Marie Agolong, the City Tourism Officer. Same goes my to travel buddy Ida Nanette Damo of ChoosePhilippines for her letting me use of her photos in the post. Daghang salamat! Viva Senior Santiago!


For another year, I am invited by the LGU of Caraga, Davao Oriental to be one of their guests for the annual celebration of the town’s Founding Anniversary and its Parochial Town Fiesta celebrated every 16th day of July. Caraga is the oldest town in the Province of Davao Oriental.

Situated in the eastcoast of the province, CARAGA is a laid-back town teeming with natural attractions, colorful culture and rich history. Being the easternmost town in the country, it is famous as the Sunrise Capital of the Philippines as the sun shines here first particularly in Pusan Point. The town also takes pride as home of the Mandaya Indigenous People, one of the most interesting and fascinating IP groups of Mindanao where culture and traditions are still intact even to this day.

Another fascinating thing CARAGA is so proud of is the SAN SALVADOR DEL MUNDO CHURCH, the Parish Church of the town, as it is known as the oldest Church in the whole Davao Region. Long before the arrivals of the Spaniards in the Davao Gulf to conquer what is now Davao City in 1848, Caraga is already established as a town and was part of Caraga Province (referring to CARAGA Region). The town served as a mission station of Spanish Missionaries in propagating Christianity in eastern Mindanao. San Salvador Del Mundo Church is the legacy and heritage they left to Caragenos.

Built on the promontory that overlooks a spectacular view of the great Pacific Ocean, San Salvador Del Mundo Church is mainly made of rubble – irregular pieces of rocks and corals – but the upper portion is built with hardwood. The aged door in the opening bears insignias that symbolize of the Holy Name of Jesus. The construction of this church began in 1877 led by Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ and Fr. Juan Terricabras, SJ and was completed in 1884.

In 2012 during the town’s Parochial Fiesta, the San Salvador Del Mundo Church was declared a National Historic Site, a distinction given by no less than the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The declaration was made 128 years after it was built in 1884 – something that every Carageños should be proud of, including me who hails from the same province.

San Salvador Del Mundo Church has survived the tests of changing times and has remained a beacon of Catholic faith in this side of the country.

CATEEL FROM ABOVE: It’s Incredibly Charming

When I got my DJI Spark a month ago, I told myself that the very first place that I should feature using this aircraft will be my hometown of Cateel. When our town celebrated its 114th Founding Anniversary, I was invited to go home to sit as judge in one of its event. And so I took this great opportunity to fly my drone camera and take incredible photos and videos of my hometown which I have never seen before. I have so much fun documenting my hometown from above. Here are some of these stunning photos that truly made me feel prouder of where I come from.

It’s Incredibly Charming



As a travel destination, the Philippines are best known for beachside retreats and natural attractions. This is a visually stunning country full of fascinating things to see and places to relax. As is somewhat inevitable with popular tourist destinations, however, a resort culture has sprung up as well – primarily in Manila. Visiting the world-famous resorts of Manila is a little bit different than your average trip to the Philippines, so we wanted to provide a few general tips for exploring and enjoying this area.

Know The Top Resorts

Manila is right up there with other Southeast Asian destinations like Singapore and Macau when it comes to major resorts. But it still pays to know the specifics before you’re traveling there (rather than just having a vague understanding that there are some huge hotels there). Generally speaking, there are some excellent luxury hotels in the area, including places like The Peninsula, Amanpulo, and the Pangulasian Island Resort, all of which offer terrific comforts and scenery. However, the main draws are the casino resorts: City Of Dreams, Resorts World, and Okada. These are some of the names that should be in your searches as you set out to plan a trip.

Plan Your Casino Visits

You certainly don’t have to visit the casinos at these resorts, as there are plenty of other things to do. However, the casinos are arguably the main attractions, and if you decide you want to check them out, a little bit of preparation is in order. You’ll want to research which games are offered at which venues, and then make sure you understand those games. You may also want to look into how people present themselves so you can dress accordingly, though as casino gaming has become more casual over the years, people now have the freedom to wear almost anything they like in these types of venues. Overall, you just want to have a solid idea of what you’re walking into.

Plan A Few Meals

In more remote Philippines destinations, you’ll be treated to flavorful local cuisine and generally unique dining experiences. In a resort area, it’s more about fine dining – but that’s not a bad thing at all. Some of the restaurants can definitely be pricey, but often the menus are worth it. A few names to keep in mind are Passion (a Chinese restaurant at Resorts World), La Piazza (a surprisingly lovely Italian place at Okada), and Goryeo (an elegant Korean establishment, also at Okada). At City Of Dreams there’s also a Nobu – part of the empire of restaurants Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa built with Robet De Niro. This will be a lot of travelers’ first choice.

Look Beyond The Hotels

This is definitely a resort destination, and as mentioned there are other places all over the Philippines for natural beauty and cultural experience. However, even if you’re looking for a luxury hotel to stay at, you should keep in mind that Manila is far more than its cluster of casinos and resorts. Rizal Park, for instance, is a beautiful outdoor attractions and one of the biggest urban parks in all of Asia. Taal Volcano attracts a lot of sightseers as well. And those are just two of many places to see as you wander the area during the day.

Once you’ve chosen a resort and arrived in Manila, most of your hour-to-hour enjoyment will come easily. You’ll find things to do in and around the hotel, and you’ll be able to relax however you see fit. However, it’s still a good idea to have some of these experiences picked out and considered in advance.

CATEEL’S KUTOO FESTIVAL: A True Heritage Worthy To Be Proud Of

It was in 2011 that I was given the chance to sit as the Chairman of the Board of Judges for the Kutoo Festival, one of the highlights of the Araw ng Cateel celebration. It was a great opportunity for me not only to witness this colorful event and choose the best performing group but also to learn more about my hometown’s rich culture and tradition through this much-awaited event. Kutoo is one of the many old traditions in my hometown widely practiced even today.

Kutoo is a form of ritual or prayer done during a pre-harvesting process of agricultural crops, particularly palay (rice plants) which is considered the main agriculture produce of the town. Cateel is considered as the rice granary of the Eastcoast of Davao Oriental and this practice of Kutoo traces back even the olden times.

The celebration of KUTOO FESTIVAL has become our town’s tribute to the honor this tradition and has become a festival of thanksgiving for the abundance of agricultural products of our hometown. When Typhoon Pablo hit Cateel in 2012, the celebration was put on halt. But this year the Local Government Unit of Cateel initiated the “comeback” of this festival with the participation of the private sectors, public and private schools of all levels. This year, I was again given the opportunity to sit as the Chairman of the Board of Judges.

In the olden days, Kutoo is said to be typically performed by an old woman by way of harvesting a few stalks of palay while saying a prayer during the ritual. The pre-harvesting process involves showing respect and submission to the gods or anitos, specifically Tagamaling and Dagaw, the stewards of crops. This is intended so that the landowner/farmer will be blessed with a bountiful harvest. In the recent days, Kutoo is still practiced by some farmers but the offerings and prayers for the anitos and gods of the crops are no longer performed.

Today, the celebration of Kutoo Festival features a Street Dancing Competition participated by different schools in Cateel. Participating groups are dressed up wearing Mandaya attire and accessories mostly made of cloth known as dagmay dancing along the major streets to the beat of our Mandaya culture. Cateel is home to Mandaya and Mandaya culture and traditions are still practiced to this day – that includes Kutoo. The choreographed performances of the street-dancing and street showdown are patterned after the rituals of Kutoo. Adding to the colors of the festival, palay takes centerstage as the main props.

Kutoo Festival showcases not only our customary harvest ritual but it displays Cateel’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage. Being a festival fanatic who’s been around the country covering different festivals, witnessing our own festival is heartwarming. It is heartwarming because it is my own heritage and it speaks our own culture – the culture and tradition of my people. As I say it before and I say it again, Kutoo Festival is an eye opener for me to know that there is more to discover and more to be proud of of our town – something that the new generation can learn from.

Together with my fellow Cateeleños, I pray that this festival will flourish and this culture will be preserved. For it is a true heritage worthy to be proud of!