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Two festivals showcase central Mindanao ethnic groups

TOURISM • 18:07 PM Mon Dec 17, 2018
John Unson
Ethnic Tedurays in their colorful traditional dresses. (Facebook photo)

COTABATO CITY - Central Mindanao residents shall witness this week cultural activities related to two festivals keeping alive the ethnicity and rosy history of the local communities.Led by local officials, Cotabato City residents launched on Sunday the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival, a yearly event highlighting how Shariff Mohammad Kabunsuan, a Malay-Arab Islamic theologian from Johore in what is now Malaysia, arrived here in the 14thcentury to spread Islam.The event was capped off with a parade by students in ethnic attires from different schools in the city and from Maguindanao province.Besides introducing Islam to pagans in Kuta Wato, now Cotabato City, and in nearby enclaves that were to become parts of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces, Kabunsuan also established communities governed by Islamic principles on religious tolerance, fraternalism and equality of people regardless of religions and races.Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, who led the kickoff rite for the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival, also formally opened on Sunday a brassware exhibit at the old city hall.The launching of the festival began with a parade of colorful guinakit boats at the downstream channel here of the Rio Grande de Mindanao that connects the city to the Moro Gulf.History says Kabunsuan arrived here from Johore on board a colorful guinakit that docked at the bank of the river where Cotabato City’s old riverside wharf is located.Sunday’s event here was preceded by the start last Saturday of the Meguyaya Festival in the hinterland Upi town in Maguindanao, bastion of the non-Muslim indigenous Teduray community.The upland Upi town in Maguindanao is 34 kilometers southwest of Cotabato City.The Meguyaya Festival showcases the ethnicity of the Tedurays and how the Maguindanaon, the Christian Ilocano, Ilonggo and Cebuano residents in Upi have peacefully been co-existing long before the municipality was created on June 10, 1955 via Republic Act 1248.Upi is now a first class municipality and boasts of having won in recent years national awards recognizing the efficiency of its local government unit.Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, a former principal of a Catholic school in the municipality, and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu jointly led the launching of the Meguyaya Festival last Saturday.The festival, to last until December 22, is also partly a thanksgiving feast for the yearly bumper harvest of corn in Upi, located in the first district of Maguindanao.Upi is the top producer of corn from among all of Maguindanao’s 36 towns.Mangudadatu told reporters on Saturday that what is fascinating with the municipality is its having won twice in the past two years the annual Seal of Good Local Governance awards from the central office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.The yearly citation from DILG is only for municipal and provincial governments that have efficient programs addressing poverty, underdevelopment and domestic security issues.

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