At eight o’clock in the morning, the sun was up scorching at 32 degrees already. Despite the agonizing heat, people started occupying the sidewalk of the city’s main thoroughfare where performers of the Street Dancing Competition will pass by. The mood was extra festive. Colorful buntings were all over dominating the major streets. Everyone was in high spirit. The reverberating drumbeats were getting even louder. Beautiful smiles were everywhere and the whole sight was getting so picture perfect. And there I was along with hundreds of men and women geared with heavy cameras and long lenses – the media and the hobbyists – waiting for the perfect timing and perfect frame to freeze and capture candid moments that will silently speak how colorful and vivid the celebration of Kadayawan sa Dabaw is through Indak-indak sa Kadalanan, the most watched event of the festival.
Indak-indak sa Kadalanan has been my personal favorite even before I wasn’t travel blogging. It is this Mardi Gras of Indigenous Music and Dances that can prove Kadayawan sa Dabaw is indeed the Festival of Festivals as it gathers different festival winners from different towns and provinces in Mindanao to compete and be hailed the grand champion among other festival winners. Thus, the moniker Mother of Festivals in Mindanao.
For many years now, I’ve been covering Indak-indak sa Kadalanan as main feature of my blog for the month the August. In fact, I would not plan any trip or accept any out-of-town projects during this season just to be here in my city and cover this event that has become very significant to me as a Dabawenyo. For me, Kadayawan Festival is not just a merriment of bountiful harvest but also a cheerful celebration of the rich heritage and diverse culture not only of this city but Mindanao as a whole. All of these can be witnessed and experienced at Indak-indak sa Kadalanan. Thus, even the burning heat of the mighty sun can’t stop me from going out into the streets to capture the joyous and candid moments of the celebration. And I guess, every travel writer, blogger, photographer and hobbyist share the same feeling of passion and love covering this colorful experience.
Like the previous years, this year’s Kadayawan Festival gathered foreign and local spectators, local and national media, professional photographers and hobbyists for another vibrant and rhythmic staging of Indak indak Sa Kadalanan with 17 contingents coming from and outside of Davao City.
But talking about covering this year’s Indak-indak Sa Kadalanan, it was a different story. It is way too different compared from the previous years that I was on the streets covering this event with fellow festival fanatics. Just like the old days, tourist police and marshals were spread everywhere just as the media and photographers were scattered hoping to capture photographs we can publish on mainstream and social media. But this year’s festival marshals seemed too hard, too strict restricting photographers, professionals and hobbyists alike, from going closer to the performing contingents to get good photos and best angles of their choice. Even the media and photographers sticker passes were of no use as these tourist police and festival marshals would yell out shooing us away from areas where we could capture good shots. In fact, even at San Pedro Street where the main performances were done, we were limited to one specific area. Move away from there, you’ll be shouted at and reprimanded.
Stories from fellow photographers, bloggers and friends in the media circulated on the net narrating their horrendous experience with these marshals while covering the event. I had my share of unpleasant experience. In fact, I thought my camera was broken after one tourist police grabbed the rope that served as the cordon hitting our cameras badly. I felt so dismayed I wanted to leave the place right away but then I realized I owed it to these tireless performers to capture their performances rehearsed for so many days not only for us to see and experience but for the world to appreciate through our humble efforts of showing it to social media. And I embraced that promise to my readers and followers to bring the highlights of Kadayawan Festival to where they are in the planet. And so, despite that very disappointing incident, I went on struggling to capture and freeze expressions and special moments of Indak-indak sa Kadalanan.
The vibrant colors, heart pounding drum beats and awe inspiring dances of the different contingents from Davao and other provinces of Mindanao enthused me to continue shooting despite being contained in a limited space. There were instances that my view was blocked but I had to find ways to take good shots. The groovy rhythm of the smashing drums somehow helped lessened the dismay I felt. And I reminded myself, “this is a festival, I must be on a festive mood.”
At the end, Indak-indak Sa Kadalanan was still a great showcase of different culture reflected on the well-rehearsed performances of the 17 contingents vying for the grand prize. The choreographed dances showcasing tribal rituals and the way of life of the different tribes truly showed the rich and diverse culture each contingent portrayed enthusiastically during the performances.
ONE HUNDRED CAPTURED MOMENTS. ONE VIBE
I may have experienced the hardest way of covering this year’s Indak-indak Sa Kadalanan, still the photos I brought home that day bring smile to my face. I may have struggled hard to capture these moments but looking at these photos tickled once again that feeling of great pride knowing I live in this vibrant city that value our great heritage and cultural diversity. And just like these multicultural differences showcased during this spectacular street dancing festivity, there is unity in diversity. After all, LIFE IS HERE in DAVAO CITY!
Nevertheless, I hope and pray that what we, photographers and media, horribly experience this year’s coverage of Indak-indak Sa Kadalanan won’t happen again next year.