September Festivals in Mindanao You’ll Love

September is a month of celebration in Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines. It is a time when the region comes alive with vibrant September festivals in Mindanao and colorful events. These festivities showcase the rich cultural heritage of the local communities.

 From street dancing to music performances, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. But, if you’re searching for an unforgettable experience, look no further than the September festivals in Mindanao. These festivals celebrate tradition and culture. In addition, they provide an opportunity to experience the locals’ warm hospitality and friendly nature.

So, whether you’re a tourist or local, mark your calendar for these exciting events that will leave you with a lifetime of memories. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of Mindanao’s most popular September festivals that you’ll love to see.

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September Festivals in Mindanao: Diyandi Festival (September 1 – October 2, Iligan City, Northern Mindanao)

St. Michael Cathedral in Iligan (Source: Hans Olav Lien/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2004, the Iligan City Council proposed and agreed to call the city’s Diyandi Festival to promote tourism. Over time, the festival has become livelier, more colorful, and more culturally significant. The name “Diyandi” originated from the word “celebrate” and is now a trademark for Iligan’s month-long celebration.

The festival includes several highlights, such as the Pagpakanaug at St. Michael Cathedral. Another highlight is the Komedya, a folk stage play featuring a courtship between a Maranao male and a Higaonon female. It culminates in a symbolic offering to St. Michael the Archangel.

The festival’s main highlight is the KASADYA, a street dance and merrymaking event. It showcases various cultural traditions like Diyandi, Eskrima, and street drama. KASADYA has become a popular tourist attraction in Iligan.

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Tuna Festival (September 3 – 5, General Santos City, Sarangani)

Parade during the Tuna Festival (Source: Perlie R./Wikimedia Commons)

The Tuna Festival is an exceptional event in General Santos City, also known as the ‘Philippines’ Tuna Capital.’ It made the city one of the top fish producers globally, and locals have organized a celebration to honor it. The Tuna Festival celebrates everything fish and is the perfect place to indulge in delicious fish dishes.

One of the festival’s highlights is the fish dish cooking challenge. You can enjoy cooked fish dishes before joining the lively street festivities if you’re lucky.

If you prefer musical and dance performances, enjoy the drum-and-lyre exhibitions. This festival offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with locals and understand their culture. You can even interact with the local fishermen and experience what it’s like to spend a day in their shoes. And remember to buy some fresh, top-quality fish to take home.

September Festivals in Mindanao: Bansaulog Festival (September 12 – 18, Bansalan, Davao del Sur)

The Bansaulog Festival is a week-long celebration held every September 12th to 18th in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. It honors the town’s Foundation Day and features various activities such as the following:

  • Drum and Lyre Presentation
  • Cheerdance Presentation
  • Street Dancing Presentation
  • Little Miss Tourism Pageant
  • Hip-hop Dance Competition
  • Agri Day showcasing the Bagobo cultural heritage

Bansalan may not be well-known, but it is a prosperous town in Davao del Sur. Some notable individuals who were born or raised in Bansalan include the following:

  • Serapion Mettilla – The country’s Father of Bonsai
  • Jojo Adlawan – A former member of the London production of Miss Saigon
  • Dr. Teofredo Esquerra – A flight specialist who accompanied the Filipinos in conquering Mount Everest

Talakudong Festival (September 18, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat)

The Talakudong Festival has its roots in the Ilonggo word “kudong,” which means “head covering” worn by the early settlers of Sultan Kudarat. During the festival, participants showcase the Kudongs in their dance performances. Moreover, it includes a reenactment of the giving of a golden kudong by Christian pioneers to the Sultan of Buluan. The kudong is a symbol of peace and prosperity in the region.

The festival pays tribute to the town’s history and figures. Moreover, it transforms the humble salakot into beautiful works of art through paint, sequins, leaves, and flowers. Performers wave the kudongs while dancing and chanting to local drums. They create a colorful, lively atmosphere that draws spectators.

The Talakudong is a small-town festival. But, it shows significant historical significance and heartwarming performances. Thus, it’s the most celebrated event of Tacurong.

Agal-Agal Festival (September 25, Tawi-Tawi)

Sama tribe women playing the kulintang (Source: Municipal Tourism Office of Sitangkal, Tawi-Tawi/WIkimedia Commons)

The Province of Tawi-Tawi is famous for producing the best seaweed powder in the country. The annual Agal-Agal Festival honors the seaweed’s importance to the people and economy of the province. The festival, named after the local term for kelp, takes place during the Founding Anniversary of the Province.

The Agal-Agal Festival showcases the community’s appreciation for the seaweed industry. As an island province surrounded by vast seas, Tawi-Tawi has abundant marine and aquatic resources.

The festival also highlights the rich culture and traditions of the Sama, Badjau, Jama Mapun, and Tausug. These tribes coexist in the province. These vibrant cultures and remarkable traditions continue today.

September Festivals in Mindanao: T’boli Tribal Festival (3rd week of September, South Cotabato)

An elderly T’boli woman (Source: Bro. Jeffry Pioquinto SJ/Wikimedia Commons)

The T’Boli Tribal Festival is an annual event at Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, in the Philippines. The residents celebrate it every third week of September. It features tribal ceremonies that start early in the morning with the sound of gongs and local music.

The festivities culminate in the town square, where cultural dances and ethnic sports like horse-fight occur. Six major clans of Cotabato celebrate the Lemlunay Festival. Moreover, representatives from other families in Davao also join the festivities.

It was a small-town celebration honoring the feast day of Sta Cruz. During the 1970s, the religious feast incorporated the features of the Mo-inum or thanksgiving ritual of the T’bolis. The memorial mass on the last day includes a unique blend of Catholic tradition and ethnic color.

This festival is about the T’Boli belief in a golden age called Lemlunay, which means “the good place one goes to in life after death.” “Lemlunay” is like a Camelot or heaven that the T’Boli people aspire to create for their tribe. It is where people can recharge and renew their commitment to work for this desired state of life.


Final Thoughts

Suppose you plan to travel to the Philippines this coming September. Add these local September festivals in Mindanao to your itinerary for a more immersive experience. Witnessing these cultural celebrations firsthand is always a good idea. Remember to take photos as souvenirs.

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