Surigao comes alive with the celebration of the Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival on 9 September 2012. This year’s festivity is made possible through the collaboration of the City and Provincial Governments of Surigao, Department of Tourism (DOT), Surigao City Tourism Council, and various sponsors.
Now on its 26th year, the Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival features an array of colorful dances, music, and rituals. One of the biggest and grandest festivals in the CARAGA region, the festival is Surigaonons’ way of thanksgiving held in honor of the city’s patron saint, Senor San Nicolas de Tolentino. Marked by Mardi Gras-like celebrations with street parties, traditional dance rituals, and wide variety of food that straddle every road and street in town, this annual festivity depicts the Mamanwas’ merry-making to show gratitude for bountiful harvest and gift of good health. The Mamanwas are the early settlers of Surigao, and one of the oldest and still existing indigenous tribes in the Philippines.
The festival’s main feature is the Bonok-bonok, an ethnic Mamanwa dance performed by the natives during thanksgiving, worship, and wedding ceremonies. The Bonok-Bonok is not just any typical choreographed dance; it is a communal tradition of the Mamanwas, where the elders from different villages—the most respected men in their communities who they consider leaders—along with the women, dance, cheer, and sing for happiness and friendship. Men and women dressed in colorful indigenous attires complete with their ornate accessories punctuate the whole festival. For the Mamanwas, dancing reflects their way of life and serves as an expression of their affinity with the spiritual and natural world, where earth, water, wind, air and fire are alive.
This year’s festival anticipates bigger participation from different schools, barangays, and municipalities across Surigao and its neighboring towns. Apart from the annual street dancing contest, the City Tourism Council, Inc also organized the 1st Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival 2012 Photography Competition. With a theme of Salamat: Sajaw, Ki-ay, this latest addition to the festival invites all amateur and professional photographers and hobbyists to submit entries printed in full color using any digital or film-based camera. Exciting prizes await the winners of both street dance and photography competitions.
“Filipino culture has become almost synonymous with colorful festivals. Almost every town in the country celebrates feasts with grandeur that one can expect to see a vibrant display of costumes, parade, and street dancing. Through these festivals, our guests are able to realize that the Philippines is a collage of many colors, sounds, and rhythms. Bonok-Bonok is one of the many colorful fiestas in the country. It has become a tourist attraction, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Surigao and giving a glimpse of the Philippines as a multi-faceted travel destination in Asia,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. enthused.