Mindanao and Palawan are seen to play a significant role in the sustainable development of the eastern part of Southeast Asia.

The consensus surfaced during the 2nd Budayaw Festival held last November in the City of Kuching in the Federal State of Sarawak, Malaysia, a biennial event of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“Budayaw Festival, which is a catalyst in weaving the aspirations, creative expressions, and appreciation of our richly-diverse Asian culture, which should shape our regional development and prosperity. We are ecstatic to have showcased Mindanao and Palawan as playing vital roles along this line,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar said in a statement on Monday.

Budayaw, dubbed as “Festival of Cultures”, showcases cultural diversity and promotes regional cooperation in the areas of trade and commerce among the BIMP-EAGA member states.
The five-day festivity was highlighted by weaving demonstrations, cultural performances, choral concerts, visual arts exhibit and culinary presentations.

According to DOT, trade and travel fairs, fashion shows and cultural outreach programs were also held.
During the biennial affairs, BIMP-EAGA representatives also tackled the plan to collaborate with public and private stakeholders within the region, with the Philippine delegation tasked to promote and market tourism in Mindanao Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and Palawan.

The delegation was represented by Abubakar and Adel Suemith of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), including DOT regional directors Marie Elaine Salvaña-Unchuan of Region 10 and Tanya Rabat-Tan of Region 11.
The Philippine team has also explored talks with the Sarawak Tourism Board for forging sisterhood agreements with localities in Northern Mindanao and having direct flights between Kuching City and Davao City.

“Improved connectivity between Sarawak and Mindanao gateways like Davao City is the key to accelerating regional development cooperation among the member states of the BIMP-EAGA along with the sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, provinces in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the island chain of Maluku, Papua, Sarawak, the federal territory of Labuan and Sabah,” Abubakar said.