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Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival
September 9
Surigao City

Surigaonons' way of thanksgiving for the bountiful blessings, this is event is marked by Mardi Gras-like celebrations. Dances are offerred in honor of the city's patron saint, Señor San Nicolas de Tolentino.

History of Bonok-Bonok
Surigao is home to the Mamanwa ethnic tribe. Their dances are showcased in a local festival called "Bonok-Bonok, held at the feast of San Nicolas de Toletino which is held annually on September 10. The Bonok-Bonok depicts the native folks' merry-making to show gratitude to pagan gods for bountiful harvest and good health.

Bonok-bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw is a Mardi gras-like celebration of dances, colors, bargains, and food.

bonok-bonok dancerOne of the oldest and still existing tribes in the Philippines are the Mamanwas, who are quite similar to the Negritoes in physical profile. Although forced to settle in the hinterislands because of the advent of development, they still practiced, however, their customs and traditions. Am
ong these is the belief about “KAHIMUNAN”, a tribal festivity, where music and graceful dancing are distinctive features. They chant and play accompanied with their instruments, such as: the gimbar (drum), the gong and the bamboo called the “kalatong” and “katik”. A “baylan” or priest officiates the celebration as a tribute to their God, “MAGBABAYA” and ancestors for good health and bountiful harvest intercessions.

During the “kahimunan” or tribal festivity, wild pigs, chicken and different fruits are offered to the ancestors. A thanksgiving dance called “BONOK-BONOK” is performed by the different village chieftains and babaeyons. Happiness and friendship are expressed through dancing, shouting and singing. They wave scarves of “BANAY” as signs of good will, prosperity and blessings for the entire tribal village.


Thus, Bonok-Bonok is a ritual dance which originated from the Mamanwas, the early settlers of Surigao. The rhythm usually starts with a slow beat and gradually gets faster, causing the dancers to work at pace with the music. Adding to the attraction of the dance is the colourful raiment, which includes beaded headdresses or tubaw, bracelets and anklets of the women. The ceremonial dress of the men and women are likewise ornate in design, and of various colours.


The dance ritual has been brought down through the generations and still being practiced today. In reverence to the Patron Saint San Nicolas de Tolentino, the people have already adopted the “Bonok–bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw” Festival which is a reflection of Surigao’s rich cultural heritage.

- Text courtesy of surigaoislands.com