Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PAGDIHON Festival in Dingle

photo by Jun Fuerte

Visitors of Iloilo are often amazed at the amount of history that surrounds the area on a daily basis.

Throughout history, many battles of the Revolutionary War happened here and many Ilonggos have given their lives fighting for freedom and independence. Every year, members of some communities set aside time to honor the memories of the fallen and to pay tribute to those whose memories are held most dear. To show their respect, the people of Dingle celebrate PAHDIHON Festival.

photo by Jun Fuerte

During the celebration Dingleanons give thanks to heroes for the sacrifices they had given. In the time of Pagdihon Festival, a tribal dance spectacle is built up at an open space as performers involved in a rousing telling of the events as they unfold history through a dance-drama presentation.

Adriano Hernandez, the central figure of the celebration, the main character in the dance-drama presentations, is a native of Dingle,Iloilo is a Visayan general, military strategist and patriot. When the natives were asked to volunteer in fighting the Filipino revolutionaries, Hernandez secretly organized a rebel movement in Iloilo against the Spaniards and staged the first armed uprising in the Province of Iloilo. This occurred in Barrio Lincud, Dingle. The event was known as the "Cry of Lincud" on October 28, 1898.

General Hernandez was also the trusted aide of General Martin Delgado because of his excellent display of gallantry and knowledge in military strategy. And when the rebel government in the Visayas was inaugurated in November 1898, Hernandez was designated as Chief of staff. He also led the guerilla movement in the province when Iloilo fell into the hands of the Americans.

Since 2009, this festival is celebrated every year to commemorate the war that was fought in this town. Now the town of Dingle has peace, but every year for one day we depict the war of those times through this festivity.

photo by Jun Fuerte

The celebration is crowded with people of all ages, some talking, greeting, laughing, others maneuvering to find a good place from which to view the performances. The war dance is initiated by events in the lives of Dingleanons. The ceremony occurs in commemoration of their local hero’s accomplishments. The dance leader, taking the role of General Hernandez staring fixedly to large crowd dances in short deliberate steps and with casual concentration other performers dances out the heart beat of the dance. By performing the dance the community gives recognition to men and women of achievement. And in doing so, the community become empowered to define what constitutes achievement in their own generation.

The tribal performances have changed considerably in the past years. The battles of the past have been relegated to remote history. But the celebration of Pagdihon remains at the heart of Dingle’s identity.

As Dingle annually commemorates the Cry of Lingcud, they position themselves in social time with their ancestors as ancestors in the making. They will come to know that to prevail in their own lives they must live like those brave warriors who brought them into the world. This is not a denial of the present moment but as a recognition that the past subsumes it.

On October 23-31, 2011 Dingle will mark the celebration of the 3rd PAGDIHON Festival with series of special events such as the Float Competition’ Search for Miss Pagdihon’ Dulcehan and Pagdihon Kusinero, Symphony of Fire, Moments with the Mayor, Dingle Got Talent, Agri-Fair, Cultural Shows nightly, Motor Show, Mountain Bike Challenge, Horror Night Parade and the highlight of the celebration on October 30 at 7 a.m., the reenactment of the battle in which the locals carried out an attack on the entrenched Spanish forces occupying Iloilo at that time.

By celebrating Pagdihon, Dingleanons celebrate with their ancestors.

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