Maguindanao‘Sagayan Fest’ starts Feb. 10 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 February 2013 10:39

Maguindanao will embark on its second Sagayan Festival next week, featuring ethnic dances and Moro sports to showcase the cultures of people in its 36 towns, now moving on from the impact of the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 election-related massacre of 58 people in the province.

The Sagayan is a centuries-old Moro dance depicting the resilience of Maguindanaons to challenges and hardships in life, from threats to the safety of their homeland, and how they have fought foreign invasions in defense of their land, race and religion.

The geographical identity “Maguindanao” means people of the flooded plains, or the communities that dwell in the vast delta and perennially-inundated areas of Central Mindanao, spreading through what are now chartered Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces.

Juliet Masukat, provincial tourism chief, said the festival will start February 10 with opening ceremonies at the town proper of Buluan, in the second district of the province.

Masukat said Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu will lead all the February 10-14 Sagayan activities.

“On February 11, we shall have the much awaited `Sagayan’ dance competition and other cultural presentations by representatives from different ethnic Moro and indigenous groups in Maguindanao,” Masukat said.

Masukat said they have also organized a street dancing parade and traditional Moro games such as the sipa-sa-manggis, where players use a kick ball made of rattan strips to hit and untie a pack of goods and cash dangling from the tip of a bamboo pole.

The week-long event is also to be capped with a ‘palamata sa Maguindanao’ pageant, whose initial selection process for 12 participating women from different towns began on Wednesday at the Grotto Park of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.

“The search proper shall be held on February 13,” Masukat said.

Masukat said Mangudadatu already asked the Army’s 601st Brigade and the provincial police to establish a tight security cordon sealing the surroundings of Buluan from February 10-14, to ward off saboteurs.

Sagayan is a “war dance” where dancers, clad in colorful native attires and armed with replicas of traditional bladed weapons, perform choreographed fighting steps to the beat of drums made of indigenous materials and animal skin.

The Sagayan dance show how warriors are to protect their religion, land, women and children from any aggression, while depicting that warfare should only be purely for defense purposes.

The Sagayan Festival is to culminate on February 14, the birthday of Mangudadatu’s spouse, Genalyn, who was among the 58 people brutally killed by armed partisans while on their way to file on his behalf his certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao during the 2010 local elections. The governor was still vice-mayor of his hometown, Buluan, then.

More than half of the massacre fatalities were print and broadcast journalists who were to cover the filing of Mangudadatu’s COC by Mrs. Mangudadatu at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak, a political stronghold of the once feared Ampatuan clan.

Mangudadatu was to contest then the bid for Maguindanao’s gubernatorial post of Andal Ampatuan, Jr., whose clan galvanized its hold to  power in those days with an absolute “zero tolerance” for political opposition and with the help of family-controlled, private militias which the police and military condoned owing to their usefulness in fighting local Moro secessionist groups.

Mangudadatu is now seeking a second term as candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party.

Masukat said the governor has invited national dignitaries to their Sagayan Festival, which is also meant to show support to the on-going peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Masukat said the governor is expected to renew, during the February 10-14 Sagayan Festival, his administration’s earlier pledge of all out support to the Framework
Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), crafted on October 15, 2012 by the government and MILF panels and aims to establish a new autonomous political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.