BIMP-EAGA Partnership Resurgent with First “BUDAYAW” FESTIVAL of Culture and the Arts


Back in 1994, four Southeast Asian nations with shared land and sea borders joined together to form a sub-regional economic cooperation initiative with the goal of developing their geographically close “focus areas” with mutual benefits for all. This was the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, or BIMP-EAGA initiative. The cooperation of the four nations works to uplift their focus areas in terms of transport and trade/communication connectivity, agro-fisheries, environment, tourism and socio-cultural education. For thirteen years BIMP-EAGA has marched forward with these sectors as pillars, and now they have one new element to foster their close socio-economic relations even further.

This coming September 20, BIMP-EAGA will gather together for the celebration of their first ever Festival of Culture and the Arts, named “Budayaw.” Set to be held in the City of General Santos, Philippines, for five days, Budayaw is a festival of multiple dimensions and cultural disciplines from all BIMP-EAGA member nations. Its celebration also coincides with the golden anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which acts as parent organization to EAGA. The festival’s name is a portmanteau of sorts connecting the Bahasa word “Budaya” (“culture,” “heritage”) and the Filipino word “dayaw” (“bounty,” “prayer,” “beautiful”).

As its name suggests, Budayaw is to be a festival showcase of the diverse creative expressions of the cultures that are part of its member nations. Its theme is “Taking Pride in the Creative Diversity of the BIMP-EAGA Region,” and that is exactly what around 300 performers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are headed over to GenSan will be celebrating. These participants range from indigenous traditional practitioners to contemporary artists, beautifully illustrating the history of culture in eastern ASEAN from past to present.

From this inaugural celebration held in GenSan and nearby Sarangani Province in the Philippines, the Budayaw festival will recur once every two years, rotating its venue between the four BIMP-EAGA member countries. Its official logo for the first ever festival is indicative of this spirit of community, with the flags of the four east ASEAN nations over the image of a Sarimanok, a mythical bird that is in the cultural consciousness of the host Mindanaoan peoples. Underneath is the name of the festival rendered in ancient Baybayin script (read “Bu-da-ya-o”). The multicolor nature of the Sarimanok is the most evocative of the Budayaw festival’s celebration of peace, bounty and diversity.

Thus far, only four major event sites have been revealed pertaining to the week-long Budayaw celebration. Its formal opening ceremony on September 20 will be at the Greenleaf Hotel, with a master weavers’ exhibition pavilion to be housed until September 24 in nearby SM City GenSan. Interactive performances and cultural workshops will also set up near City Hall, while a Colloquium will be held near the Boys’ Dormitory Annex of the Mindanao State University of GenSan. Other events include choral music competitions, film and digital arts festivals, community tours and outreach programs throughout the city.

More information on upcoming events of the first BIMP-EAGA Budayaw Festival of Culture and Arts, as well as a list of contact persons, can be seen at the event’s official Facebook page at, and website at At the website, you can also register as either an individual arts-cultural performer or a group if you are looking to participate in the festival yourself.

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