THE ANNUAL Shariff Kabunsuan Festival in Cotabato City, which celebrates the arrival of the Arab missionary believed to have introduced Islam to southern Philippines and contributed to the area’s growth, starts on Dec. 15. It will be the first time that the city will hold the festivity as part of the Bangsamoro region. Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, in a statement, said the festivity is “the city government’s way of saying thanks to the efforts of every Cotabateño who have made our city nationally recognized for its business progress and good governance.” The highlight of the four-day celebration is the Guinakit Fluvial Parade, which will allow the people to witness the re-enactment of the arrival of Mr. Kabunsuan. Colorful vessels symbolizing royalty among Muslim tribes in Mindanao will be joining the parade. Another major event is the reading of the Qur’an by reciters who have won in local and international competitions. A Halal Business Forum is also scheduled, with focus on the preparation of food based on Islamic laws. — Carmelito Q. Francisco