Derived from the word kawayan, a material known for its flexibility and durability, the celebration of Kaway Festival in Tagkawayan, Quezon bent and altered itself into a celebration of resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic
Kaway, an invitation
Depending on the literature you are reading, Municipal Tourism Council President Ernesto Herras said the origins of their town’s name have many stories. One is kawayan, which was used during the early Spanish period to call the early settlers of Tagkawayan who were the ‘aetas’ or ‘agtas’ with a native Visayan or Bicol tongue.
The other, more plausible meaning, came from the practice of early settlers who held their merrymaking along the seashore where they drank wine, sang, and danced around a bonfire.
At the peak of their celebrations, the aetas invited other tribes in the settlements in neighboring barangays by tying a piece of cloth and climbing rocks to wave at other groups in invitation to their merrymaking–more known as lungkasan–a gesture that is observed even today as a signal of invitation .
Centuries later, the simple invitation to merrymaking became a full blown festival and celebration from the bountiful year that passed.
For the people of Tagkawayan, Kaway Festival is an invitation to their neighboring towns and provinces to visit and experience, taste, and watch the beauty they offer.
Strategically located along the boundary of Quezon Province and Camarines Sur, Tagkawayan is a fusion of two cultures–the Tagalog and Bicolanos. It combines the rich flavors of Quezon and the bite of the siling labuyo of Camarines Sur into one platter.
“Ang Kaway Festival ang bintana ng aming pagkakakilanlan, sapagkat sa loob ng ilang araw, makikilala mo ang bayan ng Tagkawayan. Yayakapin mo, at patuloy na magbabalik sa bayan ng Tagkawayan.” Herras said of their annual festival.
Kaway Festival, a story of resilience
More than showcasing the best the Municipality of Tagkawayan, Kaway Festival celebrates the resilience of its people.
While other festivals and big celebrations in the country came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kaway Festival downsized but continued its culture of celebration and merrymaking.
From 2021 until 2022, Kaway Festival stayed on our screens as virtual celebrations. Streetdance competitions and other highlights were livestreamed on social media for the entire country to watch.
Fast forward to 2023, Kaway Festival went bigger and louder. From the screen, the Municipal Tourism Office initiated face to face celebrations, once more bringing the celebration to the streets.
“Kahit sa gitna ng pandemya ay hindi namin itinigil ang pagdiriwang ng Kaway Festival. Sa tulong ng Municipal Tourism Office, ipinagdiwang namin ang virtual Kaway Festival sa loob ng dalawang taon. Iba yung impact kapag talaga ibinalik ang face to face dahil nakikita namin yung pananabik ng spectators at mga bisita sa fiesta.”
As one of the most well-known festivals in the country, the Kaway Festival attracts thousands of tourists from all over the country, especially now that the Kaway Festival is included in the official lists of top tourist attractions of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Provincial Government of Quezon.
According to Kaway Tagkawayan Municipal Tourism Council President Gilbert Dalida, around 3,000 to 5,000 tourist arrivals are expected everyday until February 11. However, hotels and other accommodations are fully-booked as early as June 2022.
Aside from the tourism council, the local healthcare sector including the Rural Health Unit, Barangay Health Workers and the healthcare personnel of Maria L. Eleazar General Hospital are on full alert to ensure the implementation of their Covid-19 Public Health Standards to prevent infections from spiking.