SAMBUOKAN FESTIVAL 2013: “Know the Tribes, Experience the Vibe”

From Dahican Beach, the colors and sounds of Sambuokan Festival came to life as eight contingents from different schools in Mati City converged at the city’s main street for the Indak Sayaw Sa Sambuokan street dancing competition. Despite the ravenous heat of the mid-afternoon sun, people from all walks of life came out to witness this most vibrant festival of the city. As it was my first Sambuokan experience, I was overwhelmed with so much excitement.

Indak Sayaw Sa SambuokanWith the theme “Know the Tribes, Experience the Vibe”, this year’s Sambuokan Festival pays tribute to the different indigenous tribes in the city that contributed to the diversity of the city’s rich culture and colorful past.

_DSC0467Being Davao Oriental’s capital town, the City of Mati is a melting pot of different indigenous tribes. Some of these tribes are among the first settlers of the city. Although Mandaya Tribe is the most dominant indigenous tribe dwelling in the city, Muslim tribes like Kaagan, Maranao, Tausog and Maguindanao are also part of these indigenous groups.

_DSC0502But despite the city’s diverse culture, ethnic traditions, economic status and lifestyle, these natives along with immigrants from other provinces who chose to settle in Mati embrace to live in unity and peace – in ONENESS. Thus, Sambuokan Festival which is derived from a Mandaya word “sambuok” which means “one” is a celebration for oneness and unity of all Matinians to build a united and progressive society.

_DSC0464 _DSC0477 _DSC0484 _DSC0487 _DSC0515Sambuokan Festival before it becomes what it is today used to be an affair participated by the people in the government. But through the years, the festivity morphed into a festival of people, of culture, and of Mati’s own evolution – it becomes a festival that binds the people of Mati from all walks of life, regardless of economic status, educational attainment and religious preferences.

_DSC0539_DSC0533 _DSC0534 _DSC0540 While this year’s festival theme focused on honoring the importance of these tribes in Mati, Indak Sayaw sa Sambuokan showcased an amazing display of distinctive colors, cultures, and traditional dances of these said tribes. Performances of different contingents showcased the rich culture and tradition of the natives. The choreographed dances displayed stories that often centered on the lives of their tribe, their people and their beliefs.

_DSC0803Dressed in their ethnic attires, the performers filled the street with vibrant colors and danced in harmony with the bouncy indigenous rhythm that put the crowd and the entire area in a festive and jovial spirit.

Baywalk, Poblacion, Mati City

_DSC0629 _DSC0641 _DSC0651 _DSC0657 _DSC0678 _DSC0680 _DSC0684 _DSC0688 _DSC0692 _DSC0696 _DSC0709 _DSC0718 _DSC0723 _DSC0726 _DSC0730 _DSC0739 _DSC0748 _DSC0757 _DSC0764 _DSC0769 _DSC0772 _DSC0778 _DSC0853This year’s Sambuokan Festival was said to be bigger and grander compared from the previous years. The newly installed mayor of the city, Mayor Carlo Rabat, regarded this celebration as the city’s trademark of oneness. Thus, along with the people of Mati, this year’s Sambuokan Festival was made more colorful and vibrant reflecting the real essence of Sambuokan – Matianian’s unity.

covering Sambuokan Festival with my Ate Idol - the JOJIE ALCANTARA
Covering Sambuokan Festival with my Ate Idol – the JOJIE ALCANTARA
Blending with the COLORS of Sambuokan
Blending with the COLORS of Sambuokan
The Travel Teller ♥ Sambuopkan Festival
The Travel Teller ♥ Sambuokan Festival

*** thanks for these photos, Eden Jhan Licayan ***

Experiencing Sambuokan Festival for the first time was a great privilege for me to see and appreciate more the other side of Mati. Before, everytime I think of Mati, the very first thing that comes to mind is Dahican Beach. Now I got all the reasons to say there’s more to Mati than Dahican Beach – there is Sambuokan Festival that one must look forward to every year. Honestly, I’m becoming a fan and I look forward to come back and be part of the celebration again.


Congratulations to the people of Mati for the success of the Sambuokan Festival 2013. My heartfelt gratitude to Mayor Carlo Rabat for inviting me to witness this very colorful event. See you next year.


The City of Mati is among the newly established cities in our Island Mindanao that I’ve always frequented.  In fact, I can no longer count how many times I’ve visited this once a quaint town since my first visit many years back. I’ve seen already a lot of wonderful and amazing things in her but it seems there is an enthralling charm in her that makes come back more often.

The City of Mati is the provincial capital of my home Province of Davao Oriental. It is 4 hours away from my hometown of Cateel and 3 hours away from my home city of Davao. This proximity makes it easier for me to visit the City of Mati whenever I have the itch for beach adventure, nature tripping and funfilled road trip. More than its proximity to where I live, there are many reasons why I kept on coming back to the City of Mati.

I have been to other places that I also find worth visiting and some even mystical but a single visit to those places is already enough of not coming back. In the case of my ample visits to the City of Mati, it is entirely different. All those destinations I see and I experience there have enchanting magic that lured me to see and experience them again. Even how many times I savored its beauty, experienced its thrill and romanced its splendor, yet I still find those places enticing and worth a visit. Others may disagree, but I will never get tired going there again and again.

To name a few, here are some of the places that really fascinate me about the City. These are awesome places and things I consider reasons why I love the City of Mati.

The Sleeping Dinosaur is one of the key attractions of the City. It an island nestled along Pujada Bay that resembles like a submerged sleeping dinosaur. Its grandeur is visibly seen upon passing the 8 kilometer Badas Zigzag Road. It is greatly admired especially by those first timers. There are view decks made for tourists and travelers wanting to capture the gorgeousness of this Sleeping Beauty. In fact, it is the first welcoming attraction one will see upon entering the soil of the City.


Once a quaint beach famous for its long stretch of pristine white sand and clean crystal clear azure waters facing the mighty Pacific Ocean, Dahican Beach is the City’s most famous tourist attraction. My first white sand long beach escapade happened here during my high school days. I remember how I was blown away when I first saw its tropical charm that until now enchants me. Today, Dahican Beach is widely known as the Skimboarding and Surfing Capital of the Davao Region. It has captivated a lot of beach lovers and has created an unfailing trademark as one of the beach destinations in the South. 

Dahican Beach is the home of the now renowned Amihan Boys, a team of local skimboarders and surfers founded by Kuya Jun Plaza, a native of Dahican. Amihan Boys has gained wide reputation as the best Skimboarders and Surfers in the region and has gone too far joining competitions local and abroad. Kuya Jun, who acts as a father and mentor to the team does not only teaches the boys to become better at their chosen sports but he also teaches them how live and survive a good life away from vices and the likes. Kuya Jun and the Amihan Boys are perfect examples of becoming role models to the youth of the City. They give free skimboarding and surfing clinics, spearhead surfing tournaments and promote good sportsmanship. Whenever I am in Mati, I never fail to visit them at Dahican. I consider them as my good friends.

Situated in Sitio Guang Guang in Barangay Dahican, Guang Guang Mangrove Park is a 21,000 hectare of protected mangrove forest where 18 of the rarest and endangered mangrove species in the Philippines are found. This vast mangrove forest provides good spawning grounds and habitat for marine lives. This is a joint project of Guang-Guang Community and the DENR. Whenever I am in the City, I never fail to visit this place. Swimming here is fun.

Called as the White House, the Provincial Capitol Building of Davao Oriental is said to be one of most beautiful capitol buildings in Mindanao. The construction of the Capitol Building started during the term of former Governor Ma. Elena Palma Gil. It was beautifully completed during the term of the current Governor Corazon Malanyaon. Both dynamic governors hail from my hometown of Cateel. The Provincial Capitol Building is truly the province’s landmark to behold. It is in itself a tourist attraction one should never miss when visiting the City of Mati. Whenever I see this grand white building, I feel so proud knowing that two powerful women who spearheaded its construction and completion come from my quaint hometown.

Aside from the famed Dahican Beach, another well known beach destination in the City of Mati is Masao Beach situated along the shoreline of the Pujada Bay. Most of beach resorts with stilt cottages can be found here. Unlike Dahican Beach, the waters of Masao are calm and tranquil. There plenty of beach resorts that I have stayed here in the past. My favorite is the Cinco Masao Beach Resort.

These among others are the best things I love about the City of Mati. Whenever I have the itch for beach combing and nature tripping, or simply want a perfect weekend away from bustle and hustle of the concrete jungle, the City of Mati and its irresistible allures immediately come to mind. And for the nth time, I will never get tired going back there, again and again!

CITY OF MATI, The Travel Teller ❤ you!