Butuan City provides many tourist activities for its guests. Among the nature-related activities such as swimming, diving and water sports, Butuan City also provides its guests the opportunities for a cultural immersion. The culture of Butuan City demonstrates their day-to-day living, beliefs and livelihood. Thus, Butuan’s cultural heritage is manifested though its events and traditional festivities:
Kahimunan Festival is Butuan’s way of showing its gratitude towards one of its patron saints, the Sto. Nino, also known as the Child Jesus. The word “Kahimunan” is from a dialect meaing the “gathering”. On the day of the Kahimunan Festival, participants line up the streets to present exotic dances and ceremonies. Dancers are dressed up in colorful costumes as they dance to native music. Theatrical performances of ceremonies and dances are highlighted as they decorate the streets with their exotic costumes and native ornaments such as baskets, spears and other accessories. Kahimunan Festival is the city’s tribute to Sto. Nino for providing its residents with a bountiful harvest and many blessings. The main theme of the ceremonies in the Kahimunan Festival is a combination of the area’s pre-colonial culture and its affiliation with Christianity. The Kahimunan Festival is held every third Sunday of January.
Adlaw Hong Butuan
The Adlaw Hong Butuan is a yearly event in Butuan that celebrates its Charter Day. The Adlaw Hong Festival pays tribute to Butuan’s administrative status as a city. It therefore honors Butuan’s municipal officials, citizens and past leaders who have contributed their loyalty and efforts to the city. Adlaw Hong Butuan presents the city’s modern culture through its street parties, beauty pageants and motorcades. There is also a parade of performers and colorful floats to as the highlight of the event. Adlaw Hong Butuan is celebrated on the second day of August.
The Palagsing Festival is also one of Adlaw Hong’s main highlights. The festival is named after a native delicacy in Butuan, which is basically a long, sticky rice cake wrapped in banana leaves. The Palagsing Festival is also known for its yearly contest, which is the longest palagsing. Right after the contest ends, the entries are given away for free much to the delight of the contest spectators. The Palagsing Festival is celebrated during the Adlaw Hong Butuan.
Butuan City, being a part of Mindanao, has long been establishing relations with the Srivijayan Empire since the tenth century. Butuan’s location on the coast has made it a trading point in Mindanao. Boats, or balangahais, are known to dock on the bay of Butuan mainly for trading between local inhabitants and those from the neighboring empire. An excavation during the 1970’s exposed these balanghais to the modern world, and these balanghais were found to be almost a thousand years old through carbon-dating. The Balanghai Festival commemorates this historical event through a night of exotic performances, colorful costumes and the much-awaited floats. There are also contests, exhibits and other festivities during the said event. Balanghai Festival is celebrated during the third week of May, and also coincides with the feast of their patron saint, St Joseph.
The Abayan Festival is a commemoration to another one of the city’s patron saints, St Anne. The statue of St Anne is carried by a large decorated float by a main boat and surounded by small boats, or bancas, as they sail on the river. Local stories state that the festival was primarily established to pay tribute to St Anne, who has protected the residents crossing the river by driving away the infesting crocodiles. The Abayan Festival is known for its yearly baroto race, a race of small, colorful boats on the river. The festival is held every the last Sunday of July.