“Wear a native hat and be in the groove!” I was told. “Wear it not only to shield you from the burning heat of the sun or the unexpected drizzles, wear it to blend in with our people as we celebrate and honor the symbol of our City’s culture.” Without hesitation, I obeyed. And when I looked around, I saw a great multitude wearing the same native hat each with different designs. I was on the street now readying my gears as the sea of performers dressed in multicolored costumes dancing their way towards us – all armed with native hats called kudong. “So this how to Tacurongons celebrate Talakudong Festival!” I concluded. With the kudong on my head, I started nodding and wobbling like a guy with a cool bobblehead, I blended in.
Talakudong Festival is the most celebrated event in this City of Goodwill. It is a neo-ethnic festival honoring the most prized symbol of the City’s history – the kudong, a head covering worn by early settlers of this city. Talakudong which comes from the word kudong refers to something that covers the head against the sun and rain. It is said that the early people of Tacurong gave the Sultan of Buluan, now Buluan town in Maguindanao, a golden kudong as a special gift for his enduring efforts in instituting peace and progress in the area. Thus kudong becomes symbolic to the city and its people. In fact, the name Tacurong is derived from this emblematic Talakudong.
Gaining a good reputation as the festival of hats, Talakudong Festival has become a historical and cultural spectacle in South Central Mindanao. It is highlighted by street-dancing and field demonstrations with lavishly decorated talakudong as the main feature accompanied by the sprightly sound of bamboos and drums. The dances and performances showcase the history of Tacurong from being a barrio of Buluan into a multi-cultural town of Sultan Kudarat and eventually into a bustling city.
The annual celebration of Talakudong FesItval is done alongside the commemoration of the founding anniversary of Tacurong City which falls every 18th of September. This year marks the 14th year of Tacurong as a city and this year’s celebration was anchored with the theme “Talakudong: Ipasundayag ang Imo Katahum” (Talakudong: Show Your Beauty).
Like the previous staging of this Festival of Hats, participating contingents from the different districts of the city spent months rehearsing for the most coveted prize and honor as the grand champion of the Talakudong Festival Street Dancing Competition. Hence, Tacurongnons and even local tourists coming the different parts of SoCCSKSSarGen Region always look forward to this event. Every year, these contingents who are grouped into different tribes never fail to surprise and amuse spectators with their well-choreographed performances and exhibitions highlighting talakudong as the festival icon.
Five groups competed in this year’s Talakudong Street Dancing Competition. Contingents competed at both street dance called “Lumbayag sa Dalanon” and the field demonstration called “Kiay-Kiay sa Talakudong”. Out of the five competing groups, Tribung Manubiaw was proclaimed the Grand Champion with Tribung Kudong and Tribung Kadsayap as second and third. Consolation prizes went to Tribung Salakot and Tribung Naragsak. Tribung Manubiaw, the grand campion, was my personal choice and I was as euphoric as them when they were proclaimed winners!
ONE HUNDRED CAPTURED MOMENTS.
ONE TALAKUDONG VIBE.
Indeed, Tacurong City has gone far from being a barrio to a multi-cultural town and eventually into a bustling city. But it is so remarkable to know how the Tacurongnons place a great value of this innate culture and the preservation of it as one of their principal goals. Undeniably, this colorful Talakudong Festival is a great reminder of the city’s rich past and a promise of a brighter future.
My deepest appreciation to Tacurong City Mayor Lina O. Montilla and City Tourism Officer Emelie Jamorabon for giving me this opportunity to experience the vibe of Talakudong festival for the first time. The same goes out to all the staffs of the City Government for making our stay very remarkable. My special thank you shout-out to my Choose Philippines family most especially to my Lalabs Ida Nanette Damo as my travel partner documenting this festival now I considered as one of the best in South Central Mindanao.