Carlo P. Mallo
THE Kadayawan festivities in the city kicked off last week, and just as in previous celebrations, one of its highlight is the much coveted — and controversial — Hiyas ng Kadayawan.
In the previous years, each time the Hiyas was staged, various groups would clamor for its abolition as it allegedly violates the women’s code of the city.
Thus, in last year’s Kadayawan celebration, just before the Hiyas was scrapped, males were included in the contest. A bigger howl followed, and then the scrapping.
This year, the Hiyas is back, making some of the very few who know little about Kadayawan’s history agape because while there are no more males in the pageant, one requirement is that the contestant is to be the official representative of one of the ten major tribes that reside in the city.
Rewind almost two decades ago, when what was then Apo Duwaling Festival initiated by OIC Mayor Zafiro L. Respicio in 1986 was renamed Kadayawan sa Dabaw in 1988. There was no such pageant called Hiyas ng Kadayawan, rather, there was the Bya’neng Kadayawan.
The Bya’neng was a pageant of beauty, talent and brains of those who has Davao lumad roots.
The Bya’neng contestants donned lumad costumes although not necessarily according to their tribes. Bya’neng was thus distinguished from the Mutya ng Dabaw. It was not just a beauty pageant, it has cultural roots.
Then came the Hiyas, which was supposed to be different from Bya’neng. It was a fashion show pitting the creations of local designers using ethnic materials, but soon became a beauty pageant of sorts. In the race between a regular beauty pageant complete with contoured gowns and long-legged models, the Bya’neng lost.
The Bya’neng was scrapped and became a hyped-up fashion show cum regular beauty pageant that saw girls sashaying in almost carnival-type gowns fit for a mardi gras with ethnic highlights, like a walis tambo on the head. That was until City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte raised a howl, a very loud howl that saw the booting out of his tourism officer as well.
This year, Hiyas is back, but in the form of what Bya’neng was before. No more long legs peeking out from strategically cut gowns. Just necessary space to stomp out a lumad dance, with those from Muslim tribes properly covered. No more heavy trains made of woven abaca, just abaca skirts like how lumads wear skirts, wrapped around their waist, at just above the knee length.
Contrary to other beauty tilts in the country, the Hiyas ng Kadayawan 2007 boasted of eight truly indigenous blooded participants representing their respective tribes instead of the mestizas clad in ethnic wear. The eight tribes that were aptly represented were the tribes of Tagabawa, Obu-Manuvu, Kalagan, Tausug, Sama, Maguindanao, Maranaw, and Ata.
With ethnic Mindanao music and tropical flora, the stage of the Cap auditorium was reminiscent of a tribal paradise. Bamboo, giant ferns, wild bush, and Davao’s best blooms were strategically utilized on stage. There was nothing overpowering about the stage set-up, it was, simply put, complimentary to the pageant.
The contestants donned their best tribal wear with utmost flair and grace. The finest silks, tinalak, and the most intricate brass, silver, and gold jewelries adorned the tribal beauties.
Besting the other eight contestants, 21-year-old Samrah Nuh of the Kalagan tribe was crowned as Hiyas ng Kadayawan 2007. Being able to truly represent her tribe is one of her traits that made her capture the much coveted crown.
This year’s first runner-up, or the Hiyas sa Kalambuan, is Maranaw beauty Nihaya Polao, an 18-year-old student. Coming in as second runner-up with the title Hiyas sa Timusbawan is Ata representative Madilyn Dalag, a 26-year-old social worker.
The other contestants have the Hiyas sa Kaliwatan as their title. The Tagabawa tribe was represented by Ryalim Boston, 19; Marryjoy Wayan represented the Obu-Manuvu, 22; Hamis Sherjalyn of the Tausug tribe, 18; Hadzmina Saraka of the Sama tribe, 22; and Jockra Ebus of the Maguindanao tribe, 19.
Samrah graduated from the Ateneo de Davao University in March 2006 with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education Major in General Science. Currently, Samrah is an elementary teacher in a private institution.
One of her visions as the newly-crowned Hiyas ng Kadayawan is to organize the women from the different tribes in the city and to put up a project that would be beneficial to all of them.
Davao City vice Mayor Inday Sara Zimmerman-Duterte said that this year’s Hiyas was the best among all others. “It truly captured the meaning of being a Hiyas and that is to represent the tribes of Davao,” Inday Sara said.
Inday Sara added that all of the candidates deserve to win, and that being able to represent their tribe is already a feat in itself.