Mati, the lone city of Davao Oriental,is the province’scapitaland center of commerce, education, and government. It has a total land area of 791.09 square kilometers, with more than half of it is covered with forest.

Mati faces the Pacific Ocean and it has a coastline of 150 kilometers. As such, the city is noted for its beaches. Among the famous one is the Dahican Beach, renowned for its crystal clear waters and a 17-kilometer pure and fine white sand shore. “You don’t have to go to Boracay to experience white sand,” said Michael Rabat, the brother of the former city mayor. “We have it here.”

Mati is dotted with enthralling islands ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. It has two islands and other one (Oak Island) vanishes during high tide. Both Pujada and Waniban have white sand beaches; clear crystal blue waters surround these islands.

Matiis also known for its festivity, the Sambuokan, which is celebrated every October. “The Sambuokan festivities, especially the street dancing and other merrymaking activities are comparable to, if not better than, others conducted by neighboring local government units in the Davao region,” observes veteran journalist Antonio M. Ajero.

Sambuokan literally comes from a Mandaya word “buok,” which means “in one” or “united.” It proudly showcases Mati’s oneness and harmony for a common good despite its diverse culture and ethnic traditions, denominations, economic status, and lifestyle by featuring a week-long merrymaking of nightly shows and events.

One of the newest festivals in the Davao region, it only started twelve years ago. It commemorates the founding of the Municipality of Mati. This year, celebration will start on October 24 and will culminate on the city’s founding anniversary, October 29.

Credited for spearheading the festival was the late Edith-Nakpil Rabat, a crowned beauty queen (Ms. Philippines 1956) and a former assemblywoman. She was the wife of the late Governor Francisco G. Rabat, a former Olympic basketball team delegate in the 50s. Their daughter, Michelle Rabat, is the incumbent Mayor of Mati.

Sambuokan is a way of the people of Mati to celebrate the bounty of what God has given to them and the progress of the city. The week-long festival, which promises creativity and fun, is highlightedby night events at the Baywalk, parties, competitions and musical showdown, bikini open, exhibits, dog show and clinic, “tiangge” (a market showcase of local products of quality and ingenuity), banca race, and the popular skimboarding competition which graces the stunning white sands and blue waves of Dahican.

But one of the most anticipated activities is the street dancing competition called “Indak-IndaksaSambuokan.” It brings together the best contingents from elementary, secondary, and tertiary participants from Mati City and some parts in Mindanao and presents an amazing display of their distinctive colors, cultures, and traditional dances in the main thoroughfares of downtown area. It ends at the Mati Park and Baywalk, which serves as the final area for showdown.

“It’s more fun in Mati especially when you visit the place during the Sambuokan Festival,” says Bon Jovi Cabreros, who witnessed last year’s festivity.

Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio

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