All is set for Cotabato City’s Shariff Kabunsuan Festival on December 15 to 19, 2016.
In a press conference for Bangala Fashion Fair, a BIMP-EAGA event in line with the festival, yesterday in Davao City, Cotabato City tourism officer Ms. Norianne Lou “Gurlie” Frondoza underscored that the festival is distinct from other festivals because its opening program will involve the three royal houses (Shariff Kabunsuan, and brothers Rajah Tabunaway and Rajah Mamalu) who played important roles in the history of Cotabato City and Region XII as a whole.
Frondoza traced back the history of Cotabato City from the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan at the Rio de Grande de Mindanao, the welcoming of Rajah Tabunaway to his conversion to Islam, Rajah Mamalu’s resistance to Islam and becoming the forefather of Lumads (indigenous people), the separation of the two brothers, until the establishment of four provinces namely: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
“The royal descendants of Rajah Mamalu and Rajah Tabunaway, they will all come garb in their royal attires, and with a royal entourage,” she added.
The tourism officer added that the opening program will give people a glimpse of how royal families live and how they were treated during ancient times.
Frondoza also said that this year’s celebration will be different from the previous years because it will feature the culture ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Region through an exhibit and fashion fair.
In a press statement, City Mayor Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi pointed out the timeliness of the theme of the festival that has expanded to the culture and tradition of other ASEAN countries because these nations are being considered by Cotabato City as its brothers in development.
“The BIMP-EAGA is very important for Cotabato City because we have already established a relationship with these countries back in the ancient times. Remember that our forefathers are of Malay blood and Shariff Kabunsuan himself is also a native of Malaysia”, Mayor Guiani-Sayadi said.
Other highlights of the festival are the Mini-Guinakit Competition, a competition on making a miniature version of the boat that led Shariff Kabunsuan to the shores of Mindanao, to be held at People’s Palace grounds; culinary competition featuring BIMP flavors; tourism and trade forum; Kuyog Streetdancing Competition in which Cotabato City will invite participants to highlight their municipality or city’s festival through streetdancing; Colors of Cotabato, a tri-people cultural exchange night; the Cultural Parade leading to the Guinakit Fluvial Parade; and the grand Pagara or Kanduli.
Cotabato’s tourist zone
This year’s celebration will also feature a Business Forum that will not only concentrate on the actually products and industries that Cotabato city has to offer but will also emphasize the great potential of the city to become Mindanao’s next tourist destination.
Frondoza also said that the Department of Tourism Region XII has shown an overwhelming support to the tourism programs and projects of the city government such as the declaration of the Timaco Hill as an Eco-Tourism Destination where visitors and tourists can trek and explore the wildlife in this untouched forest by the bay.
The festival is to honor Shariff Kabunsuan, the son of the Sultan of Johore in Malaysia and one of the Arab missionaries who brought Islam to Mindanao.