ILOILO City – From a simple and plainly religious event, Dinagyang Festival evolved into a flamboyant, colorful and jovial religious and cultural celebration and this year’s edition is its best to date, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas whose gamble to partner with a new festival organizer paid off big time.
The Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) introduced innovations that made Dinagyang 2020 more participative and experiential such as the “Dagyang sa Calle Real” that brought back the festival’s merrymaking vibe popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the “Dinagyang 360°” that made the performances of participating tribes appreciable from all angles.
These and more novelties were instituted, because “of our desire to bring Iloilo to the next level,” Treñas told guests that included President Rodrigo Duterte’s long-time partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, before the start of yesterday’s “Dinagyang 360°” ati tribes competition at the Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand.
“As the local chief executive, I am both honored and humbled for Iloilo City to be awarded first place in resilience in the highly-urbanized city category of the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index Awards 2019. We were also a national qualifier for the Presidential Award for Child-friendly Cities, and one of the three winners of the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award. All these achievements inspired us even more to make Dinagyang 2020 grander than ever,” said Treñas.
During his last term as mayor (2007-2010) before becoming congressman, the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) cited Dinagyang Festival as “Best Tourism Event in the Country” for three consecutive years (2006, 2007 and 2008), and the first ATOP Hall of Fame Best Tourism Event in 2009.
Treñas lauded the IFFI for levelling up Dinagyang as he envisioned it.
“I worked with dynamic and motivated Ilonggos from the private sector and came up with the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. with the common goal of giving the Ilonggos a grander and more festive celebration, bringing Dinagyang Festival to a whole new level,” said the mayor.
Further addressing visitors and guests, Treñas said, “Be amazed of the spectacular performances from our tribes. Dance to the festive beats of the drums. Take lots of pictures. Fall in love with Dinagyang Festival.”
This year’s Dinagyang theme was “Perfect Vision: Celebrating the Ilonggo spirit in honor of Señor Santo Niño.”
The 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 known for its participants’ impressive choreography and striking costumes that reflect Ilonggo ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry.
“Celebrating the Dinagyang Festival is our way of showing gratitude to the Almighty for all the blessings that we have received in the past year, whether personal achievements or those of our humble city,” said Treñas.
Innovations were introduced, too, in the religious aspect of the Dinagyang such as the grand religious sadsad in front of San Jose de Placer Church on Jan. 25; re-enactment of the Santo Niño de Cebu’s arrival to the San Jose de Placer parish and the original merry-making around Plaza Libertad on Jan. 23; and Healing Mass for the aged, sick and the abandoned on Jan. 21, among others./PN