“Kaamulan” is from the Binukid word “amul” which means “to gather”. It is a gathering of Bukidnon tribespeople for a purpose. It can mean a datuship ritual, a wedding ceremony, a thanksgiving festival during harvest time, a peace pact, or all of these put together.
Showcasing the unique indigenous culture of Bukidnon, the Kaamulan is held annually in the province, particularly in Malaybalay City, the provincial capital, from the second half of February to March 10, which latter date marks the anniversary of the creation of Bukidnon as a province in 1917.
As an ethnic festival, the Kaamulan celebrates the customs and traditions of the seven tribal groups that originally inhabited the Bukidnon region, namely, the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. Several tribal folks representing these seven hill tribes of Bukidnon gather in unity with the local dwellers in town, wearing their intricately woven costumes studded with trinkets, anklets, earrings, necklaces, leglets, headdresses and amulets. They dance together, chant, perform ancient rituals, and compete in indigenous sports.
Graced by cultural groups whose ways have remained unchanged throughout the centuries, the Kaamulan is characterized by the authentic rituals with real indigenous peoples. There is the Pangampo (general worship), the Tagulambong hu Datu (ritual for the installation of a Chieftain), the Panumanod (a spiriting ceremony), the Panlisig (rite to drive away evil spirits), and the Pamalas (sin atonement ritual) among others.
Each activity is a meaningful ceremony that reflects the richness and diversity of the Bukidnon culture. Integrated into the festival are activities designed to fuse the different sectors in the provincial community as a whole. The events which have been institutionalized over the years of celebrating the Kaamulan include the Civic Parade; the much-awaited Street-dancing Competition with contingents coming from the respective municipalities and cities of the province; the Laga Ta Bukidnon where beautiful ladies from within the province vie for the title; programs reminiscent of the historic beginnings of Bukidnon and its tribal oral traditions; and, the Ethnic Dance Clinic.
Furthermore, the present Kaamulan has evolved throughout the years and does not only highlight Bukidnon’s ethnic groups but also the products and local establishments that abound in the province. These are displayed in the Garden Show, Food Fest, Kaamulan Bazaar, Agri-fair, and Livestock Show. Crowd-drawing events such as the Motocross, Off-road Competition, Rodeo, Amateur Boxing, Invitational Basketball Tournament, Adventure Races, concerts, and several others are also roped into the festivity.
To the hill tribes, Kaamulan heralds the symbolic breakthrough of their long quest for meaning and identity. And to the new generation, the old local folks and even visiting foreigners, the Kaamulan has become an avenue for the recognition and appreciation of Bukidnon’s unraveled cultural legacy carefully preserved by the traditional population. Truly, the Kaamulan is an interesting ground for the unification of the people of Bukidnon… one that converges the past and the present, celebrates its rich culture and inspires its people.