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!

CONGRATULATIONS dearest CATEEL!

CHARMING CATEEL: Davao Oriental’s Water Wonder

The charming town of CATEEL in Davao Oriental is considered as the WATER WONDER of the Province because of its majestic cascading waterfalls, long unspoiled coastlines, pristine beaches and clean rivers. More than a water wonder, CATEEL is blessed with other natural wonders that truly made it a perfect destination to discover and explore.

VISIT CATEEL. VISIT OUR HOME. VISIT OUR CATEEL.

#CharmingCateel #DavaoOriental #ExperienceCateel #MindaNOW

TAWI-TAWI’S AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL | The Philippines’ Only Seaweed Festival

The Province of Tawi-Tawi is considered as the biggest producer of Seaweed Powder in the country. Because of its significance to the livelihood of the people and the economy of the Province, one grand celebration is made every year as tribute to its great value. This is the Agal-agal Festival which is said to be the only Seaweed Festival in the country. It is derived from the word Agal-Agal which is the local term for seaweed in the Sulu Archipelago.

The staging of AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL coincides with the Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi or the Founding Anniversary of the Province which happens every 25th of September. This year, the celebration was held in the town of Languyan, one of the 11 towns of Tawi-Tawi.Agal-Agal Festival shows how the community value the importance of the seaweed industry which has been part of their living. Being a Province composed of island towns surrounded by vast seas, Tawi-Tawi is endowed with rich marine and aquatic resources. The celebration also reflects these rich bounties of the sea that Tawi-Tawi takes so much pride of.

The festival features the rich culture and traditions of the Sama, Badjau, Jama Mapun and Tausug who peacefully and harmoniously live in the Province – colourful cultures and admirable traditions that are still lived and practiced to this day.

In this year’s edition of Agal-Agal Festival, 9 out of the 11 municipalities of the province participated in the street dancing competition and showdown. Each contingent showcased their well-rehearsed and choreographed dances and performances in their most elegant traditional costumes, colourful props, and upbeat traditional music that reflect the rich culture of their town. Pangalay which is a traditional dance of the Sulu Archipelago is greatly incorporated in their graceful performances.

I have been to a number of festivals in the Philippines. In Mindanao, I have covered some of the most significant festivals that the Island boasts. And just when I thought I have seen enough, Agal-Agal Festival offered me a different festival experience – a different vibe incomparable to the other festivals I have witnessed in the country.

To be here in this southernmost part of the Philippines witnessing such spectacular festival is truly an honor. Given a chance, I shall come back and again relish another Agal-Agal Festival experience!

Shout out of thanks to the Department of Tourism – ARMM headed by Regional Secretary Ayesha M. Dilangalen for inviting The Travel Teller to witness this amusing festival of the country’s southernmost Province.

Wacth THE TRAVEL TELLER’s Video Blog of the Agal-Agal Festival HERE.

AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL | Seaweed Festival of Tawi-Tawi Province (VIDEO BLOG)

The southernmost frontier of the Philippines, the Province of Tawi-Tawi just recently celebrated its 44th Founding Anniversary. The celebration is called Kamardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi. One of the major highlights of the celebrated is the Agal-Agal Festival which is said to be the only seaweed festival in Mindanao and perhaps the entire country.

Tawi-Tawi is the country’s major producer of Agal-Agal, local term for seaweed, and this festival honors the significance of the seaweed industry in the Province. The festival also features the rich and colorful culture of the Sama, Badjao, Jama Mapun and Tausug, the people of Tawi-Tawi.

Journey to Tawi-Tawi, the Southernmost Jewel of the Philippines (Video Blog)

I have so many beautiful stories to tell you about my travels to the southernmost province of the Philippines, the fascinating island province of Tawi-Tawi. Stories that have occupied a special place in my heart. Stories that have concreted how beautiful and amazing this part of Mindanao really is. Beautiful stories that reflect not only beauty of Tawi-Tawi but the goodness of its people and the richness and colorful their culture is.  Along with those thousands of people who were once lured to come to Tawi-Tawi, I will share my exciting stories about my wonderful experience romancing the pristine and natural magnificence of this province I consider as “the southernmost jewel of the country”.

From the charming islands and islets dotting the seas of Tawi-Tawi to the breathtaking peak of its tallest mountain, from the flavorful traditional cuisines of its people to their colorful dances and lively music, from the busy pier of Bongao to the bustling barter trade of Panglima Sugala, from the stilt houses of Badjao to the peace loving town of Simunul, from the sand bars of Panampangan to the awe-inspiring Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area – amazing things that are truly and uniquely Tawi-Tawi’s.