Zamboanga del Sur is a province is a land known for its rich heritage, majestic natural attractions, and colourful festivals that showcase the uniqueness of its friendly, industrious people and its vibrant, colourful culture. These festivals are celebrated throughout the year, featuring lots of dancing, parades, feasts, and competitions, with people from all over the country being invited to join in the merriment.
The ZamboSur Summer Youth Fest, celebrated from April 4 to 21, is a major festival in the province of Zamboanga del Sur. It has two main features: the summer art lectures and workshops that are open to youth, workshops in dance, music, theatre, visual arts and new media, and the sports clinics for various athletic disciplines also targeted to the youth.
The Kutsitsa Festival of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, celebrated on April 26, is a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. The dance steps depict various stages of a harvest followed by steps depicting peace, unity, and love among people.
The Mandala Festival, celebrated in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur every September 9, aims to preserve the local Subanen tradition of Midasalip. Mandala is a Subanen term which means harvest. A thanksgiving rite is offered to the gods for the abundant yield and as a tribute to the original inhabitants, the culture and traditions of the Subanens.
The Megayon Festival – (September 11 to 17) It is a week-long celebration of the solidarity of the various cultural groups held every September on the occasion of the province’s founding day. One of the most popular forms of entertainment in the Philippines is the festival, more popularly known locally as fiestas. It is almost always acknowledged by those who have visited the country that, by nature, Filipinos are a celebratory lot, and every province in the country has at least three different fiestas being celebrated every year. Usually, these are dedicated to a town’s patron saint, or its founding, or even seasonal changes. Festivals are often designated as major or minor, with the former being much more well-known and extravagant, and is usually attended by people of neighboring towns or provinces. The Megayon Festival in Zamboanga del Sur is one of them, and unlike other festivals which have been celebrated for decades, the Megayon Festival is relatively new.
The festival is a week-long gathering held in September to celebrate the unity among the three settlers that contribute to the founding of Zamboanga del Sur: the Subanons (or Subanens), the Muslims, and the local settlers (megayon is a Subanen word for “unity”). The festival is also held to celebrate the founding of Zamboanga del Sur and, to a lesser extent, the rich harvest of crops. Because of these reasons, the Megayen Festival is considered as Zamboanga del Sur’s official festival.
Originally started in 2001, the festival highlights the cultural diversity of the three groups of people that populate Zamboanga del Sur. Main staples of the celebration include the unique cultural dances of each group. Traditional costumes as well as arts and crafts are also usually proudly displayed, which shows off the diversity of each settler group. Usually, the festival has an overarching theme that gives cohesion to each celebration, and these themes differ year after year; for example, the theme for Megayon 2008 was “Responsible Usage of Natural Resources, Key to Sustainable Progress and Unity”.
Recent festivals also saw the inclusion of a beauty pageant, as well as the participation of other neighboring provinces, such as Zamboanga del Norte. There is also a cultural tour that will give tourists and visitors a unique glimpse of the province’s various cultural villages.
The Pakano Festival of Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur is celebrated on December 27 and is a Subanen Festival aimed at preserving the culture of the Subanen.
The Pasko Nato, or the Zamboanga del Sur Christmas Festival is a festival of lights and Christmas decors as showcased in various competitions participated in by hundreds of institutions.