BIMP-EAGA artists to gather in GenSan for festival

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Aug) – Hundreds of artists and cultural performers from the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) will gather here next month for the sub-region’s first-ever grand “festival of festivals.”

A stage performer in General Santos City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Dubbed “Budayaw: The BIMP-EAGA Festival of Culture and the Arts,” the event will mainly showcase the rich culture, heritage and artistry of peoples within the sub-regional grouping in a pioneering festivity slated from Sept. 20-24.

Adelina Suemith, acting executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), said the upcoming festivity is a unique event that is aimed to celebrate the diverse culture and at the same time the oneness of the people of BIMP-EAGA.

“We want to rekindle the traditional exchanges among our peoples as well as foster a sense of connectivity and belongingness to the EAGA,” she said during the festival’s formal launching at the SM Mall Atrium here in Wednesday afternoon.

Spearheaded by the NCCA, she said the festival was an offshoot of the decision of the sub-region’s ministers in 2015 to include socio-cultural and education as its fifth strategic pillar of cooperation.

Last year, Suemith said the committee in-charge for the socio-cultural and education pillar decided to launch a signature culture and arts event for the sub-region.

She said the festivity was eventually called “Budayaw,” which is a combination of Bahasa term “budaya” for culture and Filipino term “dayaw” that means “something beautiful or something good.”

Nestor Horfilla, NCCA’s head of festival organizing team, said Budayaw Festival is a banner project of the BIMP-EAGA cooperating countries to advance culture and development in the sub-regional grouping.

He said it was designed to showcase the diverse creative expressions of the people in the EAGA; advance opportunities for cultural exchanges among peoples, communities, artists and cultural workers; and forge collaboration between public and private sector in support for the festival.

“We are also aiming to raise public awareness and appreciation on the BIMP-EAGA cultures and history,” he said.

As of Wednesday, he said Malaysia has confirmed to send a contingent of 50 artists and cultural performers while the Indonesian delegation will be led by 16 cultural dancers.

Horfilla said a core group of performers commissioned by the Indonesian consulate in Davao City will also join the festivity.

Brunei Darussalam will be sending 30 cultural performers but such number could still increase based on an ongoing review by its Ministry in-charge, he said.

He said more than 200 artists and cultural performers from parts of Mindanao and Palawan will also participate in the lined up events.

Horfilla said these include cultural performances, visual arts exhibitions, young chorale concerts, “Ikat” weaving showcases, indigenous traditional music exchanges, culture and history colloquium, and tourism exhibition.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera reiterated the city government’s full support to the hosting of the festival, which will be held every two years.

“We take pride and deeply honored to be chosen as venue for this international event,” he said.

Malaysian Vice Consul Saifulnizam Wahid, who joined the launching, said the event is an important step towards the building of more cooperation and exchanges within the BIMP-EAGA.

“We are very excited with the event. We hope that our participation will become a bridge that will connect the people of Malaysia and the Philippines, not only this generation but in the years to come,” he said.

The first Budayaw Festival is supported by the city government of General Santos, Mindanao State University-General Santos, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Department of Tourism, Sarangani provincial government and the Mindanao Development Authority.

NCCA has allotted P10 million for the holding of the festivity and raised another P10 million from various partners. (MindaNews)