‘EPAL POLS BACK OFF!’: Dinagyang Foundation shuns ‘political circus’

ILOILO City – Do not ruin the Dinagyang Festival. This is the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc.’s (IDFI) message to politicos who plan to shamelessly make their presence felt in today’s Kasadyahan cultural contest and tomorrow’s ati-ati tribes competition. “‘Epals’ are not welcome,” stressed IDFI president Ramon Cua-Locsin.

“Epal” is a Filipino slang for an annoying, unabashed person.

“Dinagyang revelers are here to enjoy the festival minus the political circus and campaign discourses,” said Cua-Locsin.

A few days ago, posters of election candidates started mushrooming across the city, and a lot were concentrated on the Dinagyang parade route.

“Dinagyang parade guidelines are very specific. Candidates in the upcoming midterm elections cannot join the parade,” said Cua-Locsin.

Today, the first of the two-day festival highlights, spectators will be treated to a competition among festivals in Iloilo province and nearby environs. The Kasadyahan contest will have 12 competing contingents.

IDFI made clear its position regarding politicians after Mayor Jose Espinosa III announced early this week that candidates running for national posts this May 13 midterm polls would be allowed to speak during the Kasadyahan and at the ati-ati tribes competition tomorrow.

“There will be enough time for their election campaign after the festival,” said Cua-Locsin.

Dinagyang is a cultural and religious celebration of the Ilonggos, he stressed.

Today’s Kasadyahan competing contingents are the following:

* Hambaro Festival of San Remegio, Antique

* Kaing Festival of Leon, Iloilo

* Manughabol sang Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao, Iloilo

* Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

* Hubon Guimarasnon sang Manggahan Festival of Guimaras province

* Hugyaw Festival of St. Therese MTC College

* Suguilanon Festival of Roxas City, Capiz

* Tultugan Festival of Maasin, Iloilo

* Panganinaw Festival of Iloilo Science and Technology University (guest)

* MassKara Festival of Bacolod City (guest)

There are five performance areas: Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand on Muelle Loney Street, Plaza Libertad, in front of the Iloilo provincial capitol, Quezon-Ledesma streets, and Maria Clara-Iznart streets.

IDFI is one of the triumvirate organizers of the year festival. The other two are the city government and the San Jose de Placer Parish.

Campaign materials and similar collaterals are not allowed, according to the IDFI president.

“We strongly urge politicians and political parties to please remove and stop littering Iloilo City with their election campaign materials,” said Cua-Locsin.

Dinagyang Festival started in 1967. A replica of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought from Cebu to the San Jose de Placer Church. The image was enthusiastically received by the Ilonggos who danced on the streets of Iloilo City.

“Dinagyang is a showcase of Ilonggo talent and artistry. The festival also underlines the influence of faith among devotees honoring the Señor Santo Niño,” said Cua-Locsin.

According to the city government’s protocol officer the other day, politicians must keep their speeches short or risk being heckled.

Spectators are more eager to witness the performances of competing tribes than hear long, boring repartees, said Jorvelyn Espinosa.

Dinagyang 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. It may not be as ancient as the one in Kalibo, Aklan but it is known more for the participants’ impressive choreography and striking costumes that reflect the ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry of the Ilonggos.

“Connecting Communities thru Culture and Faith” is the theme of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival.

Dinagyang is the Hiligaynon word for revelry or merrymaking./PN


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