Shariff Kabunsuan Festival it is a colorful festival celebrating the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan via Rio Grande de Mindanao more than 500 years ago to introduce Islam to the natives. The festival, which will be held from Dec. 15 to 19, will feature SK trade fairs, battle of the bands, Mindanao business forums, cultural presentations, street dancing competitions, and Kanduli (thanksgiving banquent).
A celebration of Islam, the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is a display of Muslim religion and culture.
Cotabato City's Sharif Kabunsuan Festival is very popular among foreign and local tourists who visit their families and relatives during this holiday season.
Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is a very significant event in Cotabato City and people look forward to various activities lined-up for the week long festivity. Events include cultural presentations, Alimango Festival, Culinary Arts Competition featuring Muslim delicacies, cultural musical showdown, Kulintang Ensemble Competition, Philippine Legend Acrobatic Show, Inaul Fashion Show, and Photo Exhibit Contest. Water sports, boat racing, ethnic sports competition, cultural dances, and a week-long trade fair, add color to the Kabunsuan Festival.
Other highlights of the Kabunsuan Festival include fluvial parade along Rio Grande de Mindanao, the Kuyog Street Dancing Parade, the Guinakit and re-enactment of the arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan, Banca Race, Kuyog Showdown and Pagana sa Maguindanao. The highlight is the "Guinakit" which is the colorful fluvial parade of colorful decorated bancas along the Rio Grande de Mindanao.
Capping the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival is the "Pagana Maguindanao,' a traditional way of dining among Maranaos and Maguindanaons in honor of special guests. This is a solemn gathering for the guest.
The visitors are served with traditional Muslim cuisine like tinadtag, plil, putrid mandi, sininang baka among others followed by a cultural presentation. Traditionally the guests sit barefooted on the floor during dinner. The lavish meal begins with a thanksgiving prayer. At the end of the meal, the host will give a token to the honored guests.
Cotabato City had witnessed more history than any other place in Mindanao. Its history dates back to the 16th century when Shariff Kabunsuan, an Arab missionary from Johore, landed along the banks of the Masla Pulangi now known as Rio Grande de Mindanao. Shariff Kabunsuan introduced Islam to the natives which lead to the establishment of the Sultanates of Maguindanao, Rajah Buayan and Kabuntalan.
During the golden age ushered in by Sultan Dipatuan Qudarat in the 17th century Cotabato became the first capital of Mindanao.
The introduction of the Christian faith in 1870 by the Jesuits and the ruling of Sultan Makakua gave rise to the birth of the modern-day Cotabato with the construction of roads and bridges and wharves. Today, Cotabato City is the only Tagalog speaking city in Mindanao, the only place where both seeds of Islam and Christianity grew and flourished.
Some the city's historical sites are the Takumi Butai Shrine, Kutwato Cave, Shariff Kabunsuan marker, Old Capitol Building at PC Hill, City Hall, and Immaculate Conception Church at Tamontaka, Rio Grande de Mindanao, Maguindanao Motif, PC Hill and Timako Hill.
The Kutawato Caves is a network of caves and tunnels found at the foot of Tantawan. These caves are located right in the heart of the city with four major entrances offering various natural attractions like rock formations, salt water ponds, and underground river.
The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Tamantoka is historically linked to the Jesuits in 1871 during the conversion days. The Church is a living witness to the harmony that exists among Muslims and Christians. The statue of the Lady of Lourdes Grotto is a replica of the original in France.
Incidentally, Cotabato has the longest river which is estimated to be 182 kilometers long and 96 meters wide. The river is used for the fluvial processions of the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia, the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival and the annual Guinakit or river festival.
Cotabato City is also dubbed as the Land of the Crabs and local tourists usually go to the in the market for cheap crabs and prawns.
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