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.