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Kaamulan Festival 2013:Dancing to the Beat of Ethnic Life (Street Dance Competition)

(Pardon the quality of my pictures, taken from video since my camera malfunctioned in the most crucial time.., camera failed! g-r-r-r-r-r)

Male dancers of Pangantucan beating the vibrant rhythm of drums with shields and spears.

The highlights of the Kaamulan 2013 may have concluded, but the rhythmic beating of the drums still lingers and the soaring ethnic chants of the tribes continuously echo  to the steep mountain ridges of Kitanglad in Malaybalay.

Visiting this city for the first time gave me a boost to be excited once more to witness another story of one great promising land in Mindanao. The 17 hour nonstop land based travel was not a waste upon experiencing the vibrant celebrations in Bukidnon, the Kaamulan Festival 2013.

Kaamulan came from the word amul which means to gather . This event is an ethnic  cultural festival participated by the seven tribal groups of the province of Bukidnon that includes TalaandigManoboUmayamnonMatigsalugTigwahonon, Higaonon, and Bukidnon.

Dangcagan performing for the street dance competition. Depicting monkeys as important part of life.
Time may not be enough to witness all the activities for the  almost half month long celebrations but  to be at the highlight of the Kaamulan ,the grand street dancing competition, was enough to rush and felt the roaring vibes of the city.

And There was George!

To make sure I would make it to the event, I hurried to Agora Bus Station in Cagayan de Oro City . The idle moment in the bus station became a privilege day when I had the unexpected meet up and rubbed elbows with the National Geographic Winner Photographer, George Tapan, who was also waiting for the bus bound for Malaybalay City. 

It was a surreal moment that I , George and Edgar (DOT) were making a team effort to secure seats in a limited air-conditioned bus for the 1am departure. We were soon  joined  by a fellow blogger , Doc Wends of Journeys and Travels  . We arrived at the  chilling city of Malaybalay at 3:00am  where we parted from George and his team.

Pinoy Travel Bloggers United for Kaamulan

I was delighted that my visit in Bukidnon was hosted by another travel junkie/ and fashionista, Shugah, that coincidentally hosting also the Queen of Iligan and travel aficionado, Lisa of Pinay Travelista. What a star studded mornight to start a day in Malaybalay!

With no time to sleep we hurried for a quick wash up and called  the others for a quick coffee and bread and held a short gathering at the capitol grounds before we hit and capture the great show .

It was an exciting reunion  with other fellow travel bloggers and friends coming from different parts of the country. 

 Counter clockwise: Doc Wends, Tupe, Heiz, Bonz, LoveMindanao,Glen,Shugah,Earl,Nathalie, Ramil, Doc Remo, Mervin, Lisa  (photo credit: Doc Remo)

We even met for the first time some of the Bukidnon based bloggers like the famous Bonzenti , the man behind  Con Tour  and Earl Bolivar of Suroy Pilipinas and  Tupe Da  Trekero

And I have never thought that this festival would be the "somewhere down the road" to cross path with  Claire of Traveling Light , Heiz of Journeying Pinay and Doc Remo of Twelveinchesbehind .  It was a great day also to be reunited with some friends like Nathalie, Glen,Mervin,and Ramil in the same event. It was also a rare moment to meet the recent Bloscars Winner Estan Cabigas of Langyaw. 

All these people have gathered to support the celebration of Kaamulan Festivals.

Dancing to the Story of Ethnic Life!

The street dancing started with the ethnic ritual offering known as Pamuhat performed by the elders of the tribes asking permission from the  great spirits to have the street dancing performed. 

Kaamulan was like a silent yet enticing invitation that charmed the people all over the region to visit,making everyone moves, painting the city with sweet cheers and exotic dances to the rhythms of the beating drums.

Showcasing the pride of each tribe, they put on their best ethnic costumes, representing their colorful and vibrant cultures dominated by red, black, blue, white and yellow . 

I was about to click for my first shoot, when suddenly my camera's shutter button  frozen and malfunctioned. In short, I just bumped with the definition of one true hell ! But  no time to waste, so,I just have to revive the secret Mac Gyver in me by using the video option instead.

And the Beat Continue...

Truly ethnic, the dance routine of the seven tribes can’t be compared at all and it  transcended the other festivals that I have witnessed in terms of rituals and  tribal authenticity. 

Performers from Damulog, showcasing a unique musical rituals and courtships.
The tribes braved the street proud with their traditional steps resembling to the habit of mountain dwellers particularly monkeys and eagles. They also featured dances of courtships and thanksgiving. 

Talaandig Tribes Street Performance
The dance maneuvers amplified how their community shared their love for the Great Creator,  family, environment and their ways of life, living harmoniously with other tribes in the great plateau of Bukidnon. 

These traditions were inherited by dozens of  generations before their fathers and passed on to the next.

The great parade of ethnic moves continued to the capitol grounds where each tribe showcased the best of their routine depicting stories of their ancestral lands. 

The huge ground suddenly filled with lots of awed spectators, locals and foreigners, witnessing the great live performances of each contingents, dancing under the scorching heat of the sun  and surpassing the expectation of "the just another Philippine Festival".

They danced not to impress using a vibrant choreography but to tell the story of their heritage. You will feel the sincerity of the participants with solemn rituals and natural way of celebration of ethnic life.

Kaamulan Festival may not be as popular as other great festivals in the Philippines but this ethnic  gathering is the most solemn festival that I have witnessed worth recommending to all festival enthusiasts.

(P.S. Congratulations to the Kitaotao dancers  for winning the street dance competition and ground presentation (Manobo and Matigsalug tribes).

Kudos Kaamulan, Salamat Malaybalay, 
Mabuhay Bukidnon!

Getting there

Malaybalay is a city in Bukidnon that can be accessed both coming from southern and northern Mindanao.  Nearest airport is from Cagayan de Oro.

From Cagayan de Oro City (north), take a Rural Transit Bus bound for Davao or Valencia, bus leaves almost every hour (24 hours) , fare is Php 135.00, travel time is 2-3 hours.

From Davao City (south) , take a Rural Transit Bus bound for Cagayan de Oro at the Ecoland Integrated Terminal , bus leaves almost every hour (24 hours), fare is Php 325.00 for airconditioned bus, travel time is 5-6 hours.


  1. Great experience! The festival plus blogger friend surely made your trip unforgetable. The pictures are nice even if they were taken from your videos. Sorry about your camera, i hope it can still be fixed.

    Regards sa Queen of Iligan ha! ^&^

  2. it was indeed unforgettable .. but it would nicer if you were there Arlene. My camera will rest in peace for awhile until i get to the nearest service center or when I visit manila in april.

  3. Grabe and impact ng mga choice of words mo Denz. Parang drum beat din.:-).

  4. Bukidnon has a big spot in my heart ....most of Mindanao's great festivals and hidden treasures are under rated where , the fact the authentic and untainted cultures can be found here in Mindanao, will be seeing Bukidnon again very soon . thanks Bonz for being a generous host.

  5. denz, your great words are enough to picture out the enticing festivities of kaamulan. tnx for coming...

  6. thanks tupe .. you have a very beautiful hometown ideal place to get lost in a paradise :D