Kahimunan Festival commemorating the feast of Señor Santo Niño

The “Kahimunan” Festival is an annual celebration of the Señor Sto Niño and a traditional ritual performed by the natives before the start of the planting season, characterized by chanting, singing and playing accompanied by indigenous musical instruments such as the gimbor (drum), gong and bamboo instruments called “Kalatong” and “Kotik.” Furthermore, this annual occasion also aims to promote neighboring local tribes’ vibrant culture and rich traditions as they continue to co-exist with city folks even up to this very day.

The lumads of Agusan start the planting season by gathering together performing a series of rituals called the kahimunan. It is characterized by chanting, singing and playing, and is usually accompanied by indigenous musical instruments such as the gimbor (drum), gong, and bamboo instruments called kalatong and kotik. The last time I witnessed this psychedelic festivity was wayback in high school. I can still recall that feeling of euphoria me and my friends had walking and chanting along with the participating contingents. Almost two decades later, I did the same. It felt the same. Just a week ago, we successfully concluded our second Mind the Now mobile photography workshop here in Butuan. One of the group’s goals was to experience the Kahimunan Festival together. I planned for these two events to be in sync not only because I am a firm believer of this “hitting two with one” axiom. I also knew it would be a good time for the attendees to test-drive their workshop takeaways. Despite the storm warning raised by the PAGASA, we braved the elements doing what we love. Our bodies dampened but spirits not, we flocked the Butuanon streets head on capturing and seizing these moments of grandeur. Several programs of activities are being prepared for the “Kahimunan” Festival by the barangay and religious sectors, in close coordination with the city government of Butuan.

Those present during the street dancing competition that highlighted the festival’s weeklong events that “the image of the Sto Niño, the child Jesus, reminds us to remain small, stay humble and simple to witness the greatness of God.” “We are gathered here to celebrate with joy and no storm can hinder the celebration,” As rain poured on the streets of Butuan, the competing teams of dancers performed along a 3-kilometer stretch of the national highway. The teams came from from Gingoog City, Surigao City, Butuan City, and Agusan del Sur. There were also participants belonging to government agencies, nongovernment organizations, and religious groups.

#KahimunanFestival, #ophirph

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