Photo by Hamdan Badrudin/BIO
COTABATO CITY—A re-enactment of the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan to spread the teachings of Islam in Mindanao opened this year’s grand celebration of the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Cotabato State University (CotSu) Grand Stand in this city.
Carrying the theme “One Heritage, One Culture, Endless Possibilities”, this year’s festival aims to celebrate the unity of the people, the rich history, colorful but diverse cultures, craftsmanship, unique traditions, and spectacular sites in the Bangsamoro homeland.
The Bangsamoro Government, through its Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT), spearheaded the celebration of the said festival; and for the first time, the regional government of BARMM is jointly conducting the activity with the City Government of Cotabato.
Officials of BARMM and the City Government of Cotabato, residents of this city, and Maguindanao Provinces attended Thursday’s program.
In his message read by BARMM Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin Pendatun, Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim mentioned some of the qualities of Shariff Kabunsuan worth emulating.
“We take inspiration from the determination of Shariff Kabunsuan in sailing towards the nourishment of people’s faith and improvement of the lives of the people of Maguindanao and in other areas in mainland Mindanao,” Ebrahim said.
He said that the message of the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is beyond the colorful and creative preservation of the Bangsamoro cultures and traditions and the remarkable journey of the late Sultan.
“It is also a celebration of our creativity, solidarity, and resiliency. I admire the timing of this activity as it brings out enthusiasm, and ensures the endurance of our people in Cotabato City after surviving the challenges brought by pandemic and disaster,” he added.
He further stressed, “we must always remember that development is built on the foundation of peace and cooperation and it is an effort in which everyone must participate. May you all enjoy the celebration of the Shariff Kabunsuan festival and allow me to mark the beginning of our journey towards freedom, long-lasting peace, and progress.”
Meanwhile, Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad Matabalao expressed his joy that this event celebrates not only the heritage of the Bangsamoro but also the spirit of unity.
“I have been very hopeful to see two governments work together hand in hand to celebrate our identity and our heritage that co-existed peacefully, socially, economically, politically, and even culturally with our highlander neighbors,” Matabalao said.
“It is important to note as well how this event brings to the fore our inherent strengths as people—our kindness, our communal spirit, and our commitment and industry, of which this year’s Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is sure to be bigger, brighter, and more successful than before,” Matabalao added.
Also part of the opening program was the “Kuyog” Showcase Competition which was participated by schools and dance troupes from Tulunan, South Cotabato; Malabang, Lanao del Sur; Matanog, Maguindanao del Norte; Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte; and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.
Tulunan, North Cotabato performers won the first prize worth Php300,000.00; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat got the 2nd prize worth Php200,000.00; while performers from Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao won the third prize with Php100,000.00. All of the prizes were sponsored by the City Government of Cotabato.
George Kimboy, the artistic head choreographer of Sib-Sib National High School Tulunan Performers, expressed his gratitude to the Government of BARMM and Cotabato City.
“People here in BARMM and Cotabato City are hospitable, areas are peaceful [and] we are amazed about the progress of various areas we traveled. As to the prize we received, half of it will be equally shared with our dancers while the other half of it will be used to buy some props to improve our performance,” Kimboy shared.
Various activities are lined up to commemorate the said festival which will run from Dec. 15 to 19. (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO)