Guinakit Fluvial Parade is a re enactment of Shariff Kabunsuan‘s (an Arab- Malay missionary from Johore, Indonesia) arrival in Mindanao some 500 years ago in a Guinakit (convoy of bancas) along the banks of Masla Pulangi now Rio Grande de Mindanao. The arrival of Shariff Kabunsuan started the spread of Islam in the country. Guinakit Fluvial Parade is part of the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival celebrated every 19th of December by the people of Cotabato City.
Guinakit is a large banca, made of wooden material and heavily decorated in colorful, traditional muslim garments and carrying musical instruments, actors and actresses on board personifying Shariff Kabunsuan and his fleet of missionary muslims. The Guinakit traverses the Rio Grande de Mindanao during the parade just like what Shariff Kabunsuan’s fleet did 500 years ago. All of the boats competing this year looked spectacular and colorful and the performers in it, totally captivating. Judging from the audience that came to view this parade, I’m pretty sure this was one celebration Cotabatenos (and Pinoys) shouldn’t miss.
On a personal level, this fluvial parade struck me uniquely different.I’ve been to a number of festivals around Philippines, read many more in books and the internet. I never knew or saw this Guinakit Festival, even in our history books. I was born and raised in Mindanao, but finding a distinctly Mindanaon heritage and tradition was difficult for me too until this time. It’s one different experience even for me, a frequent festival hopper. Now at least, I can “grab” one as mine too, with the indulgence of our muslim brothers of course.
Perhaps, next year I can still see Guinakit Fluvial parade and the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival. Made me realize, there are so many other historical and cultural stories that never made it into my Mindanaon mindset yet. So, See you in the next Guinakit Fluvial Parade?