ILOILO City – Take note of this, all Dinagyang Festival 2020 performers and revelers: Don’t bastardize Santo Niño images. Handle them with care and respect.
“Don’t shake it, don’t swing it,” said Reverend Father Raymund Edsel Alcayaga of the Parish of San Jose de Placer.
The Dinagyang Festival is known far and wide for its participants’ impressive choreography and striking costumes that reflect Ilonggo ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry.
But for the Parish of San Jose de Placer that started the festivity 50 years ago, it remains a religious feast thus it issued an appeal to participants of the 2020 edition of the festival this coming January.
Dinagyang Festival started in 1967. A replica of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought from Cebu to the San Jose de Placer Church in Plaza Libertad.
The image, accompanied by devotees from Cebu, was enthusiastically received by the Ilonggos who danced on the streets of the city to the tune of rumbling drums.
In Cebu, according to Alcayaga, Sinulog Festival participants view the Santo Niño image as sacred.
After the Dinagyang, tribes should keep the Santo Niño images or they should dispose them properly, said Alcayaga.
Do not crumple or tear them then dump them in the garbage bins, he said, but bury them.
Dinagyang is the Hiligaynon word for revelry or merrymaking. The festival is Iloilo City’s version of the Ati-atihan celebrations widely observed not only in Panay Island but also in other parts of the country.
Dinagyang Festival 2020’s theme is “Perfect Vision: Celebrating the Ilonggo Spirit in Honor of Senior Sto. Niño.”
The highlight of the festival is on Jan. 26, 2020 – the tribes competition.
The 2020 Dinagyang Festival will be seeing more initiatives to strengthen Ilonggos’ devotion to the Santo Niño.
Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) president Atty. Jobert Peñaflorida said they are making sure there is access to the San Jose de Placer Church at Plaza Libertad.
“Aside from access to the grandstand, we really want to provide access to the church. Not all can hear the Mass because roads are closed,” he said.
He added that the stretch of the Muelle Loney and other alternative roads would be open to traffic.
The San Jose de Placer Church spearheads big religious Dinagyang events such as the religious “sadsad” (merry-making) and fluvial procession and solemn foot parade.
During the “sadsad”, which is set on the evening of Jan. 25, 2020, the church is proposing three LED walls to be mounted in strategic places.
“Augustinian priests will be assigned a station so that not everybody will flock to the main stage for the blessing and distribution of souvenirs,” said Father Alcayaga.
The merrymaking will start with a 5 p.m. mass and will end with a fireworks display past 9 p.m.
Another festival religious event is the fluvial parade and solemn foot procession on Jan. 24, 2020. The organizer is planning to invite Catholic schools to join the fluvial procession.
Alcayaga said they will also try to identify and account the images and even “live” Santo Niños joining the solemn foot parade.
“We cannot stop them, because it is their expression of love for Santo Niño. We may try this year to identify and count them, including the live Santo Niños,” he said as in the past they estimated that more than a hundred niños (young children dressed as Santo Niño) joined the procession. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)