History of Simballay Festival

Simballay is an annual festivity of the Municipality of Nabunturan coined from a Mansaka word meaning, “Togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.”

It came into existence in 1994 when Nabunturan was named as a Provincial Agri-Industrial Center in Region XI alongside with the municipalities in Tagum and Panabo which had now become cities except Nabunturan. These three municipalities were also known as PANATAG – Panabo, Tagum and Tagum corridor.

Simballay Festival was conceived as the likes of the Sinulog in Cebu City and the Kadayawan Festival in Davao City showcasing potential resources to attract investors in Nabunturan. It was not until 1994 when it was initiated by former Mayor, now Father Joel O. Bugas. For years, Simballay became a tradition to the Nabunturanons every second week of December, the month of family togetherness and sharing of gifts and blessings. It was also a symbol of honoring indigenous peoples.

The Nabunturanons took respite from farms and works to gather in this most awaited event of the year. Women are busy preparing local costumes, men decorating buntings on the streets and building authentic cottages with abundant display of teeming local products, children peeping in the crowded streets witnessing the merry making celebrations. Week-long activities were lined up for the people to the feast. Tourist come and go. It was a restless activity of people in the jubilant festive mood.

Among the festivities that showcased the true colors of the Mansaka was the street dancing. Barangay people participate with their various interpretations of the natives’ tradition and culture. It was such a vivid display of ethnic costumes and dance steps with the grace plus the authentic sound of “agong” and other ethnic instruments amplified all throughout the busy streets along the merry crowd.

In its totality, Simballay was a symbol of unity and progress. It made Nabunturan well known for its potential resources in tourism and agro-industrial aspects. As it evolved, many of the industries blossomed until Nabunturan became the capital town of Compostela Valley in 1998. The spirit of Simballay Festival still loomed. The festivity had now become a significant event in the municipality. Nabunturan, now as a major center of the province of Compostela Valley and potential tourist destination needs Simballay Festival in its prime to sustain the essence of sharing, togetherness and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest which our people had long lived for.

Resolution No. 214 was approved on December 8, 1988 amending Resolution No. 175-A. From a one week celebration of Simballay in the second week of December, it was trimmed down in two days and was moved to the month of July with the Celebration of Araw ng Nabunturan on July 21-22.

In 2003, Ordinance No 2 declared December 16-22 of every year as Simballay Festival which restored the festivity to its original Month. However the festival was again transferred to October 15-19 of every year effective year 2008 by the virtue of Amendatory Ordinance NO 2007-01. A year later, the Municipal Tourism Council (MTC) requested the Sangguniang Bayan of Nabunturan to amend the dates of the celebration from the third week of October to the third week of December of every year. This was supported by manifesto of the indigenous people and other concerned residents of LGU Nabunturan who conveyed their indifference, apathy or opposition to Amendatory Ordinance No. 2007-01. The DepEd of ComVal and the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) of Nabunturan were also for the celebration of Simballay in December.

Besides, the Department of Tourism Calendar of Festival in the Philippines has set the Simballay Festival of Nabunturan on the third week of December. Hence, Municipal Ordinance No 2009-06 fixed the date of the celebration of the Simballay Festival from the third week of October to the third week of December of every year effective December 2009.