North Cotabato’s Kalivungan fest draws huge crowd
John Unson ( - August 31, 2015 - 9:53pm

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines – Thousands joined Tuesday's “Kalivungan” merry-making at the North Cotabato provincial capitol here to mark the 101st foundation day of the province.

While the province is geographically known as North Cotabato, its administrative identity is only Cotabato, which retained the founding anniversary of what was created by the American civil government as Cotabato Empire Province on Sept. 1, 2014.

From the original American-era province came what are now the adjoining provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Kidapawan, Gen. Santos and Koronadal.

Maguindanao became part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1990 when residents voted in favor of the inclusion of the province in the ARMM’s territory through a plebiscite in the same year.

North Cotabato’s chief executive, Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, told The STAR her main concerns now are programs meant to cushion the impact of natural calamities, such as drought and floods, which can affect the productivity of peasant communities in the province.

“These are the only constraints that can affect the momentum now of the rise of our province as a peaceful, progressive agricultural hub,” Mendoza said before Tuesday’s start of the Kalivungan Festival.

Mendoza said the provincial government is also focused on the preservation of the cultures and traditions of the local communities, particularly those pertaining to co-existence and diplomatic means of addressing peace and security issues.

“This is why we have this Kalivungan event, which is for us a celebration of inter-tribal harmony and agricultural productivity and as thanksgiving for the flourishing eco-tourism and business atmosphere in the province,” she added.

She said she is thankful to elders of North Cotabato’s Muslim, Christian and the non-Moro indigenous groups for helping her administration address domestic security concerns, enabling farmers to pursue their agricultural activities that were mired in the past by armed conflicts.

The Kalivungan Festival is a yearly event in the province, meant to highlight the ethnicity of the area’s tri-people, which groups the Muslim, Christian and lumad sectors, and as showcase of North Cotabato’s indigenous crafts and agricultural potentials.

Kalivungan is a generic term among most southern indigenous linguistic groups, which may either mean a special thanksgiving gathering, or convergence of tribes to resolve community concerns, or as communal celebration of good harvest and peace in the community.

Mendoza said she is thankful to all local officials in the province, the police, the military and various non-government organizations and peace advocacy blocs for supporting the conduct of the 2015 Kalivungan activities.

North Cotabato covers 17 towns scattered in three congressional districts and Kidapawan City, the provincial capital, which has 40 barangays.

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