Maguindanao readies grand welcome for victorious Sagayan Festival contingent

BULUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/25 April) — A grand welcome awaits Maguindanao’s pride, the Sagayan Festival contingent which bagged the first place of the Tugtog ng Aliwan Festival Music Competition, a feat that carried with it a cash prize of P100,000.

The Sagayan Festival team bested 16 other contingents from other regions in Pasay City on Thursday evening.

Governor Esmael Mangudadatu announced the province was preparing a grand welcome for the team in recognition of their victory in a national musical-cultural showdown, a first for Maguindanao.

Sagayan Festival takes place every Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Mangudadatu said the date was chosen to emphasize that activities like this can only be held in times of peace.

Sagayan, a graceful and colorful warrior dance, is usually performed during weddings and thanksgiving (Kanduli) among Maguindanaons.

“It really shows we have rich cultural practices. These practices were overshadowed by conflicts for many years and we want this victory now to bring a strong message that music of Sagayan is also a story of success, peace and hope for Maguindanao”, Mangudadatu said.

Mayor Genuine Kamaong of Datu Piang town, whose wife Jen was overseeing the Sagayan team, said the victory has given them not just pride and honor but also bigger opportunities for the people.

“The people here are celebrating. Sagayan team prepared much for a good fight, but we didn’t really expect to win it,” he said in jubilation.

Kamaong thanked Mangudadatu for allocating P1-million peso allowance for the contingent.

Datu Piang town in Maguindanao has been tainted by reports of war, kidnapping, rido (vengeance killings), illegal drug trade, and displacements. It became a major evacuation site at the height of the 2008 war and during the recent skirmishes.

Armed groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and even private armed groups are known to exist in the town.

Meanwhile, The Kalivungan Festival contingent of Midsayap, North Cotabato bagged the Best in Costume award in the same competition.

The Festival Music Competition is the new category of the annual Aliwan Festival Competition, which gathers grand winners of street dancing competitions from different festivals in the country.

The Tribu Sakuting, Sakuting Festival of Dolores, Abra got the second place followed by Tribu Katbalaugan Manaragat Festival from Catbalogan Samar.

The most awaited category is the street dancing competition Saturday which dangles a P1-million grand prize for the champion.

Last year, Meguyaya Festival of Upi, Maguindanao won the second place and also joined this year’s contest.

“We just hope and pray for the best of our Sagayan and Meguyaya teams to win it, Mangudadatu said.

Last year, the Lumad Basakanon of Cebu Sinulog Festival was crowned the champion while Tnalak Festival represented by Sto. Niño, South Cotabato won third place. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)