A picture of Dinagyang performers

Flamboyant Heritage

Who says modernization and tradition cannot be combined?

Dinagyang 2020 proves that’s just wrong. The festival which started when Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, the first Filipino Rector of the Augustinian Community and Parish Priest of the San Jose Parish, introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967 after observing the Ati-Atihan Festival in the province of Aklan, continuing to celebrate its roots until today. However, as time brings waves of change, Dinagyang also prospers in the influence of the modern society.

Indeed, this is represented by this year’s theme, “Perfect Vision: Celebrating the Ilonggo Spirit in Honor of Senior Sto. Niño.” Changes have been implemented in the activities. For the first time, the tribes competition, which is now called “Dinagyang 360°”, has a guaranteed school participation prize of P1 million worth of projects to be sourced from the Special Education Fund of the Local School Board.

The main performance area was the Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand on Muelle Loney Street facing the Iloilo River. One of the new styles that was presented this year was the intricate choreography, which must be in a way that their performances should face not only the grandstand but also the river. The dancers face the spectators from all angles during their vibrant performances.

2020 also featured a new committee to supervise the festival’s celebration. Dinagyang was handled by the newly-organized Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI). Aside from the well-known tribal competition, there were also 10 other IFFI activities.

Ilonggo ingenuity was well–represented in the Iloilo Dinagyang Art Festival, held last January 18 – 25, which featured aesthetic murals sketched and painted by local artists. Streets were adorned with fresco-like drawings featuring children riding train cars, bridges, bicycles, and a Chinese heritage scene.

The Ilonggo Food Festival, held last January 23 – 26, was another treat! Food kiosks featured native dishes such as the scrumptious inasal. Seafood was also on the menu. Pantat and baked talaba offered a culinary experience.

Other activities include Miss Iloilo 2020, which seeks to promote women’s beauty, wit, and character and the Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika, an effervescent drum and lyre corps competition. A fluvial and solemn foot procession also took place, along with the Floats Parade of Lights and a radiant, picturesque fireworks display in Megaworld and SM City. All of these were held on January 24.

On January 25, the Dinagyang sa Calle Real, Festive Parade, and religious sadsad were conducted. The Dinagyang 360° was held the next day, January 26.

Tribu Paghidaet, a delegation from La Paz National High School, was declared champion in this year’s Ati tribe street-dancing contest in Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival. They also won Best Music, Best in Choreography, and Best Performance. Ann Roxal Dedel Palmares of Mandurriao, on the other hand, garnered the Miss Iloilo 2020 crown. Lastly, Dingle National High School earned the Champion title in the Tambor Trumpa Martsa Musika (Secondary Level), while Arevalo Elementary School was awarded Champion in the elementary level of the same competition.

Truly, Dinagyang 2020 is both a traditional and modern festival. While it represents flairs of the 20th century, it does not forget to give tourists an understanding of Illongo devotion and culture. It is a symbol of the city’s past, present, and future. Mayor Jerry Treñas was right when he said, “We will bring the festival to its next level.” Dinagyang 2020 became a polychromatic representation of the growing Iloilo. It is a flamboyant heritage.

Featured image credit: Vinson Tan via Pixabay

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