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In search of drums and feathers

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PONCA CITY–The number one item in my bucket list when I visited Oklahoma a few months back is to shoot real cultural dancers from the Oklahoma Indian tribes in photos and video.

I searched online and saw one that was scheduled for that weekend in Ponca City about two hours drive from Oklahoma so we started out early one morning and drove all the way through long flat interstate highway which I described later as “endless stretch of nothingness.”

The drive to Ponca City is uneventful because unlike the routes heading to Texas where the roads are bounded by rivers, lakes, mountains and hills, the road to Arkansas is flat and all you see are the roads looking like slender ribbons stretching to forever.P1340433

We and took the turn to Ponca City and started to wonder if we were in the right place. We had to rely on Siri for instructions until we finally saw the sign. I was expecting a whole campsite filled with “real Indians” but it did not look like that at all. Except for a couple of Indian tepees, the site was filled with modern regular camping tents and cars. It was siesta time and everyone was just milling around, except for a couple of kids were taking a bath from a hand water pump.P1340272

I could not call them exactly friendly and it was like we were like stepping into a private territory. I could not blame them. We “crashed” into the area with a GoPro mounted on the hood of the car, and I was rapidly shooting at everything alternately with two cameras—one with long and one wide lens. Everybody stopped and stared at us then went back to what they were doing like they saw nothing at all.P1340504

My buddy went down and bought sodas from a makeshift store but he got no information because no one was willing to say anything. We finally found a police car and parked right next to it. The friendly cop told us that all activities were going to start at 7 p.m. and onwards. There was no way we can wait and drive all the way back.P1340501

My search for drums and feathers finally ended up right where we started off—at the Noble Museum in Norman at the University of Oklahoma campus where a whole section is allocated to exhibits about the different Indian tribes of Oklahoma. The exhibits are something worth a visit. The shelves contain traditional clothing of the early tribes, accessories, footwear, bows and arrows, culinary items, toys, pottery, jewelry, feather bonnets, moccasins, and everything else that depicted the rich history of the different tribes.


Fast facts:

The Sam Noble Museum is located at Chautauqua Avenue, Oklahoma City.

Operation hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed on holidays. Contact number is (405) 325-4712. Visit

Destinations Festivals & Events travel Mindanao

Kadayawan sa Dabaw festival 2014

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You have to wrestle your way through the mad throng who all wanted to get a better view of the parade and you have to be really quick with your finger to capture expressions and special moments but it’s worth the effort.


EVERY third Saturday of August, the main streets of Davao City hogs the spotlight as thousands of spectators flock to watch the Indak-indak sa Kadalanan or street dancing take place to celebrate the Kadayawan Festival.
After missing the Kadayawan for six years, I finally got the chance to watch and shoot some photos of the dancers last week. Shooting these images was not an easy feat though. You have to wrestle your way through the mad throng who all wanted to get a better view of the parade and you have to be really quick with your finger to capture expressions and special moments but it’s worth the effort.
The Kadayawan festival got its name from the friendly greeting “Madayaw”, from the Dabawenyo word “dayaw” which means good, valuable, superior or beautiful.
Kadayawan festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living. According to stories, the ethnic tribes of Davao who resided at the foot of Mt. Apo meet during a bountiful harvest in a ritual to thank the gods particularly to the “Manama” (the Supreme Being) by displaying various fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice and corn grains on mats as villagers give their respect and thanks for the year’s abundance.
The ritual is highlighted by singing, dancing and giving of offerings to their divine protectors.
Times have changed but the modern day Davaoeños continued the practice of thanksgiving or “pahinungod” is until it flourished and evolved into an annual festival of thanksgiving.
Since 1988, after City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renamed the festival as “Kadayawan sa Dabaw” to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Davao’s flowers, fruits and other produce as well as the wealth of the city’s cultures, it has become a festival of festivals. The event is no longer celebrated by Davao City alone but several participants from other parts of the region come to join in the annual street dancing competition which finishes with a grand showdown at the Rizal Park.
Be at the next Kadayawan Festival in Davao to experience the rich cultural experience, the flash of colors, the jostling of thousands of people as they push for the best places to watch the parade. The celebration does not end with the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan. The next day, come back for the Pamulak sa Kadayawan, a grand parade of floats made of the region’s colorful flowers.
Getting there
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly to Davao City from Manila (less than two hours) and from other major airports in the country including Butuan, Clark, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog, Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga and even Singapore.
Getting around by taxi is easy and cheap once you get to Davao City. You can hail a taxi at the arrival area or you can take other means of transportation like the jeep which is the most convenient and cheapest way to travel around the city, car rental, or buses. Hotel pickups can also be arranged.

Festivals & Events My Videos Tinian

Firedancer on Tinian

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vid firedance

(Video: Raquel C Bagnol)

TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands– A boy from Tinian mesmerizes the guests as he dances with fire during one of the annual Pika or hot pepper festival nights.

Firedancing is always the most awaited part in most of the traditional dance presentations at events on Saipan and Tinian. Firedancing is also one of the main dinner attractions  for some of the hotels like Mariana Resort & Spa, Fiesta Resort & Spa, Saipan World Resort, and Pacific Islands Club during the Island Theme nights.

Watch and hold your breath as these dancers show their skill in juggling sticks with fire on both ends.

Festivals & Events

Flame Tree Arts Festival

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Saipan, flame2CNMIflame1

The annual Flame Tree Arts Festival is Micronesia’s most colorful festival bringing the best of local and guest artists, culinary experiences, culture and arts. It is held in April each year in honor of the Flame Tree flowers that makes the island look like it’s on flames during the months of April to June.





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