DAVAO CITY – A local official here clarified Thursday that the Hiyas ng Kadayawan is “not a beauty contest”.

Kadayawan Executive Committee (Execom) spokesperson, Councilor Al Ryan Alejandre told reporters that the annual search is an event where the representatives of the tribes “present their culture to us”.

Eleven candidates representing different tribes were presented today during a media forum. The tribes include Ata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Iranun, Ovu-Manobo, Matigsalog, Bagobo-Klata, Maranao, Sama, Kagan, Tausug, and Maguindanaon.

Alejandre said Hiyas ng Kadayawan is more difficult compared to beauty pageants.  He said the candidates will be judged in two phases.

The first phase is the closed-door interview, which will make up 65 percent of a candidate’s score.

“This is documented. There is also a team who went to document what they are doing in their community,” Alejandre said, adding that a short documentary of the candidates will be presented.

“The judges will be able to see what they are doing,” Alejandre said.

He said the judges, some of whom will come from government agencies and the academe, include those who have knowledge about history and culture. He said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte even chose the judges.

The second phase of the search is the talent night which will comprise the other 35 percent of the scores.

Alejandre said the search will be a time for the public to get to know the tribes.

“What is the Maguindanaoan tribe? What are the characteristics of Maguindanaoan women? Even the media, we do not know where the Ata-tribe is,” Alejandre said.

He said “this is high time for us to give them respect, “ adding that some of the people consider the lumads as “minority”.

“In fact they are not. They are the first people who were here,” he said.

Alejandre said there is a need to continue preserving the tribes’ culture.

Alejandre said a Hiyas ng Kadayawan candidate should know her tribe and that she should have adopted the values, skills and attitude of the tribe she represents.

“That’s why there is a closed-door interview,” he said.

He said the Hiyas “should know how to continue and preserve their culture and tradition, and how to unite their tribe and other tribes as well.”

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said “if (Hiyas ng Kadayawan) is not a pure physical attributes competition, then there is no violation of the Women Development Code.”

“It takes creativity, imagination, and gender sensitivity to host a competition such as this. It is my hope that the organizers remain true to the principles the city upholds relative to respect for women and pursuit of wholesome and entertaining activities without resorting to exploitative and discriminatory endeavors,” Ilagan said.

“If they have succeeded in doing so, my sincere congratulations,” she said.

Gabriela Davao Secretary General Mary Ann Sapar said she “agrees” with Ilagan.

Sapar, however, said she hopes the objective of the event would help in the resolution of issues affecting the IPs.

Alejandre said IP visitors  from other provinces, who will witness Kadayawan, said the city’s event is “very unique”.

“They said our Kadayawan is very unique because we are representing 11 tribes. They said they cannot unite this many in their places,” Alejandre said.

Hiyas ng Kadayawan is one of the highlights of the Kadayawan Festival. This year the festival has a budget of P15.1 million.

Alejandre said the quota of P10 million from the private sector has already been met.  He said the city government will be providing P5 million.(davaotoday.com)

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