BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Even as Davao City drumbeats the Kadayawan Festival as one of the flagship events in its tourism promotion and generation drive, foreigners should not be getting special treatment when they come to see its main highlights.
Like the rest of the Dabawenyos, they should brave the rain or searing sun to view the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan (Street Dancing) and the Pamulak sa Kadayawan (Floral Float Parade), along the sidewalks without special seats.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has sneezed at a guideline providing for ‘reserved seats’ for foreigners at the stage of the Rizal Park, where the twin events wind up.
The recently-constructed P1.5 million Rizal Park stage, completed in March in time for the Araw ng Dabaw celebration, serves as the viewing deck for guests and local officials and event organizers.
Why the special attention for the foreign tourists? I would rather that people from Marilog be on that stage, said Duterte in the Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN on Sunday. Marilog in the city’s boundary with Bukidnon is one of the farthest districts and populated mostly by the indigenous Matigsalog tribe. The Kadayawan Festival celebrates bountiful harvest and the culture and tradition of the city’s indigenous people.
The Kadayawan Festival is for us, Duterte said.
I have never been enamored with foreigners. I do not believe in reserving seats for them. The Kadayawan is for us. Foreigners come and go, he said in the television program a week ahead of the twin culminating events for the Kadayawan Festival 2011.
The two events are the Kadayawan’sbiggest crowd drawers, luring thousands to sidewalks of the city’s main streets every year to view groups of street dancers in tribal costumes (Indak-Indak is on August 20) and the flower-decked floats in the Pamulak (August 21).
This year’s festival is being handled by the Duaw Dabaw Foundation, with its head Lisette Marquez playing festival director. Reserving seats for foreign tourists at the Rizal ark stage is said to be the foundation’s idea.
Duterte’s broadside at foreign tourists getting special treatment however may not have an impact on the Kadayawan’s drawing power as a tourist attraction. Although sold by the Department ofTourism as one of the must-see annual festivals in the country, only a trickle of foreigners come for the event. Tourism record for arrivals during Kadayawan show that most tourists coming here are domestic tourists , from the Visayas and Luzon, with foreigners hardy making a figure in the statistics.
The Kadayawan, along with the Araw ng Dabaw in March, the Summer Festival in the summer months and the Paskohan sa Dabaw are the four major events in the city’s agenda of tourism promotions.