A four-day festival that highlights Islamic heritage caps a productive year for Cotabato City.
The annual Shariff Kabunsuan Festival, which will open tomorrow, Dec. 15 and runs until Dec. 19, features parades, dancing, business fora, exhibits, and feasts, in commemoration of the arrival of Shariff Muhammad Kabunsuan, an Arab missionary from Malaysia, who introduced Islam in Mindanao in the 13th century, way before the Spaniards brought Christianity in the Visayas.
The festival kicks-off with the Guinakit Fluvial Parade, which features a re-enactment of Shariff Kabunsuan’s arrival at Rio Grande de Mindanao, the island’s second-largest river located in Cotabato City.
It was said that the Arab missionary rode on a colorful boat called the guinakit. Through the years, it has been the sailing vessel of Muslim royalty. For the parade, the guinakit is decked with flaglets and vibrant-colored fabrics.
Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi graces the festival opening ceremonies at the City Plaza. The Old City Hall currently exhibits artworks by local artists.
On Dec. 16, the Mini-Guinakit Opening will exhibit guinakit models at the People’s Palace Grounds.
The Crab Festival at the City Plaza, meanwhile, will showcase the city’s iconic mud crab through a crab race and culinary demo. Patronized for its sweet and rich meat, the mud crab is one of the city’s economic generators.
Patterned after the reality TV show, Iron Chef, the Flavors of the ASEAN Culinary Competition challenges contestants’ creativity in using local ingredients such as native chicken, goat’s meat, shrimp, and fish.
The Qur’an Reading at the People’s Palace will present readers and reciters who have won in national and international competitions.
The morning of Dec. 17 will rock with the Kuyog Street Dancing and Showcase Competition at the City Plaza and at the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC). The festival’s main crowd drawer enlists legions of students and cultural groups not only from the city but also from neighboring provinces.
At the City Plaza, the Colors of Cotabato with SK Music Fest features a motley of songs and dances from the various ethnolinguistic groups in the city—Maguinanao, Meranaw, Iranon. Bisayas, Cebuano, and Ilonggo.
One of the Department of Trade and Industry’s visions is to boost the industry of halal—food prepared according to Islamic laws—and make the country globally competitive. Thus, on Dec. 18, the Halal Business Forum at Rebecca’s Café aims to advance the partnership between the private and public sectors.
The DTI will also launch its nationwide program, Negosyo sa Barangay, which trains participants entrepreneurial skills, including business registration, product development, marketing, and laws.
There will also be a Pet Fair with activities for owners and their pets at the People’s Palace grounds.
The festival will close with a cultural parade at CCSPC and City Plaza, and the Grand Pagana, where people commune together to feast.
“The Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is the city government’s way of saying thanks to the efforts of every Cotabateño who have made our city nationally recognized for its business progress and good governance,” enthuses Mayor Guiani-Sayadi.
Pocket events before and during the festival include volleyball competition, SK Fest Grand Sale, and SK Fest Mobile Legends Tournament.
From Dec. 15 to 31, the Old City Hall displays a cultural exhibit on the story of Datu Pat-I Mata and the Pulangi River. This is a folk tale about a four-eyed datu who was notorious for his polygamy and disrespect for women. His brother Datu Pula punished him for his excesses by turning him into a river.
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