Every year, General Santos City marks its foundation anniversary on February 27 with various activities culminating the weeklong celebration of Kalilangan Festival. A Kalilangan is derived from the Maguindanaoan word “kalilang” which means “festival,” or “celebration.” It has been adopted as the carrier of the city’s foundation anniversary as it perfectly embodies the meaning of the historical episode being celebrated. The logo depicts the docking of the pioneers at the shores of Sarangani Bay. With empty hands and hopeful hearts, they tilled the lands, cultivated dreams, and planted a vision.
The anniversary celebration commemorates the landing of the city’s founder, General Paulino Santos, along with the first settlers from Luzon, at the shores of Sarangani Bay.
As the “Generals” (as General Santos City residents proudly call themselves) mark Gensan’s 69th Foundation Anniversary on Wednesday, they are expected to flock the city’s major thoroughfares to witness anew the Kadsagayan, one of the highlights of the colorful Kalilangan Festival.
Twelve years ago, the city government, encouraged by the success of Davao’s Kadayawan, Cebu’s Sinulog and Iloilo’s Dinagyang, institutionalized the foundation celebration by introducing the Kalilangan Festival. The city then appointed the Kalilangan Foundation Inc., an accredited non-governmental organization, to oversee the management of the festival. From its humble beginnings, the city was able to hurdle the challenges that goes with a young festival.
For 13 years now, the festival has become a social gathering marked by exchanging of amenities among traditional leaders, elders, allies and subordinates in varying tones.
It is also a pageantry of unique and colorful ethnic rites, rituals and traditions like marriage celebrations, religious ceremonies, anniversaries, funerals, enthronement of royal dignitaries, thanksgiving and other forms of social, political and economic activities.
It is not just an economic activity, but a continuous season of merriment, gaiety and merrymaking accentuated by sharing of gifts, traditional sports competition, dancing, singing and instrumental rendition and other forms of exhibition games, entertainment and amusement.
Kalilangan is also a noble tradition. It is a complete work of art nourished and nurtured by rich cultural heritage that has withstand the test of time from generation to generation.