Friday, January 7, 2011

DINAGYANG Festival: All About Iloilo, Rhythms, Costumes and Fun

photo by Jun Fuerte

Formerly known as Iloilo Ati-atihan, Dinagyang has its beginnings in 1969. It was only in 1977 when the term “Dinagyang” was used, to differentiate it from Kalibo’s Ati-atihan. Coined by the late Pacifico Sumagpao Sudario, an Ilonggo writer and radio broadcaster, Dinagyang is a very colorful presentation of honoring Iloilo’s patron Saint, the Child Jesus or popularly known as the Sto. Niño. Prayers and offerings are interpreted in dance forms noted for its fast body movements. The dancing style is heavily influenced by modern theatrical movements that focus on the hands and that use indigenous-style instruments such of drums, and aligned pipes of various hypnotic melodies and are in perfect rhythm ending the presentation with shouts of "Viva Señor Santo Niño."

For 34 years of the festival’s history, Iloilo became the backbone of the cultural offer of the region, centered almost exclusively in the month of January with its annual celebration of Dinagyang every 4th Sunday of January.

photo by Jun Fuerte
Dinagyang traditions of making tribal costumes that add to the festival fun have always remained as it was for many years, albeit with some changes that reflect changing realities. Well-designed tribal costumes make all the difference all the time. To maintain this originality, it takes a great deal of time and effort to get a costume ready. Welding, gluing, sewing and dyeing techniques all complement each other so as to result into a stylish product with a true identity, a true symbol of real Ilonggo traditions. Though headdresses, spears and shields are being transformed annually, it has remained the center of interest to many people.

The Dinagyang beat has always been great fun when drums form the foundation of composition and accompaniment. The drum rhythms are unlike any others in the Philippines.

During the celebration, Iloilo also holds interesting trade shows, music concerts and culinary treats. It is a time when the main downtown streets are filled with food stalls of popular restaurants and are set up for the food festival as part of the special event during the celebration. Young and old alike enjoy the nightly dining and beer drinking.

photo by Jun Fuerte
Dinagyang has inspired other outstanding festivals in the country, creating a cultural weave that transforms Iloilo into a fiesta under the common denominator of the arts. Dinagyang has created an artistic platform that appeals to the different sectors of society, in an attempt to satisfy the needs of the most demanding supporters and all those wishing to enjoy artistic events of the highest quality.

Dinagyang has become the driving force of the social and cultural life of Iloilo, and whose magnetic appeal draws people from many parts. The event is calendared in the national office of the Department of Tourism which counts among its roster the major festivals in the Philippines making it among the more respected and closely followed cultural events. It has won many national awards and was even invited to perform abroad, which is an honor, indeed.

photo by Jun Fuerte

Dinagyang reflects the international breadth and quality which rivals any other national festivals for its international quality with performances by local schools in the city. On its 43rd year this year, 14 tribes will compete, namely Tribu Paghidaet of Lapaz National High School, Tribu Bola-Bola of Iloilo National High School, Tribu Pan-ay of Fort an Pedro National High School, Tribu Salognon of Jaro National High School, Tribu Silak of Iloilo City National High School, Tribu Ilonganon of Jalandoni Memorial National High School, Tribu Atub-Atub of Veterans Village in Duran, Tribu Manduryaw of Mandurriao National High School, Tribu Molave of Barangay Rizal-Estanzuela, Tribu Aninipay of Don Esteban in Lapuz, Tribu Pag-asa of Barangay Pali Benedicto, Tribu Bantu of Alta Tierra Village in Jaro, Tribu Himal-us of Barangay Poblacion in Molo, and Tribu Angola of Barangay Ed Ganzon, City Proper.

Each year, the Dinagyang Festival is inimitable in character and quality. It’s all about Iloilo, rhythms, costumes and fun!

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