Editorial: The anatomy of a festival

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A FESTIVAL is what we call an investment and a marketing strategy. It is not designed to generate funds directly. Rather, it is designed to fan interest so that more and more people will come, be interested in a place, and find prospects for growth there.

This means, a city like Davao City, is not expected to turn in a direct profit every Kadayawan Festival. Rather, it will earn a sustained growth because through the positive reviews, comments, reports, articles, photos, and stories shared, more and more people are drawn to come over, explore the potentials, and spend some time and money here; first as a Kadayawan weekend visitor, then as a week-long guest, then as a regular visitor, and maybe even an investor.

As a result, hotels earn, restaurants earn, small and medium enterprises turn in profits, and in turning in profits, they grow and expand and invest more. This is where the city earns. Not in the fees and solicitation it collects for a festival, but in the talks generated by those who visited, had fun, and got to know the city and the higher evaluation and assessment values a growing business gets.


To expect to earn a million or ten in one festival is the mindset of losers who deep in their hearts know they have no other venue to earn money but this one in 52 weeks of one year. Therefore, they try to make a killing. As a result, they lose out on the long-term prospects, and even lose partners in the process. Why? Because through short-sightedness of wanting to make big profits for this one week, they try to squeeze out as much money from anyone who happens to be looking their way. Ask any tourism person and see them faint in consternation while muttering, that is not how it works!

Cities, towns, and destinations who know this invest a lot on visitors who can multiply their presence, meaning, people who have the means and interest to share their experience to a wider audience, wider than just one's family. Thus, these local governments bring in as many journalists and photographers, and travel writers, and bloggers, spend for their accommodations and food and even shopping money knowing that in return, these influential people will draw interest. This is how big, the successful festival organizers invest.

Contrary to that, in Davao City, which hosts a big community of respected journalists and photographers and highly-followed bloggers who give their time for free because they believe this is their contribution to the city, these people are made to fight it out with uncouth marshals and police officers who do not understand the anatomy of a festival and its long-range vision of inclusive growth for everyone. All that these minions know is that they rule the streets for this very short period of time, and they intend to make sure that everyone knows they are the street rulers.

Sad, isn't it that on the 29th years that this festival has been going on, we have allowed the untrained police and force multipliers to rule it over the greater interest of the people.

It is about time that the civilian sector, the tourism sector, and all those who profit because of the influx of visitors stand up and say, this cannot continue. Only if we do will we see a festival that is indeed truly a festival of festivals. Otherwise, it will just be an annual activity where the city gives out cash prizes and nothing else, and in return will bring nothing else but expenditures every year.

May we also add: Contrary to the understanding of the policemen, this is not just about media not being allowed to take photos. This is about allowing anyone and everyone to bring home their own piece of memory of a festival that they will swear to visit again and again. Thus, you do not apologize to us for your uncouth manner and try to defend your action by saying the media were allowed to take photos (which is actually a lie that you have been repeating over and over again), you apologize to all Dabawenyos for your disservice for this once a year big event.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 19, 2014.


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