The term "Kadayawan" is derived from the Mandaya word “madayaw”, a warm and friendly greeting used to explain a thing that is valuable, superior, beautiful, good, or profitable.
Long time ago, Davao’s ethnic tribes residing at the foot of Mount Apo would converge during a bountiful harvest. This ritual serves as their thanksgiving to the gods particularly to the “Manama” (the Supreme Being).
Various farming implements, fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice and corn grains were displayed on mats as villagers give their respect and thanks for the year's abundance. Singing, dancing and offerings to their divine protectors are the highlights of this ritual.
Although times have changed, this practice of thanksgiving or “pahinungod” is still very much practiced by modern day Dabawenyos. This tradition flourished and evolved into an annual festival of thanksgiving.
In the 1970’s, Mayor Elias B. Lopez, a Bagobo, initiated tribal festivals featuring the lumad and the Muslim tribes of Davao City where they showcase their dances and rituals of thanksgiving.
Later in 1986, a program called "Unlad Proyekto Davao" was initiated by the government which was aimed to unite the Dabawenyos after the turbulent Martial Law era. At that time, the festival was called "Apo Duwaling," a name created from the famous icons of Davao: Mt. Apo, the country's highest peak; Durian, the king of fruits; and Waling-waling, the queen of orchids.
“Apo Duwaling” was meant to showcase the city as a peaceful destination to visit and to do business after 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Finally in 1988, City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte renamed the festival as "Kadayawan sa Dabaw" to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Davao’s flowers, fruits and other produce as well as the wealth of the city’s cultures. To this day, the festival continues to honor the city's richness and diverse artistic, cultural and historical heritage in a grand celebration of thanksgiving for all of Davao City's blessings.