Giant ‘creatures’ add thrill to Dinagyang revelry



DINAGYANG FRENZY Wearing colorful costumes, members of Tribu Salognon perform in the streets of Iloilo City during the Dinagyang, Iloilo’s top festival attraction in honor of the Sto. Niño. Ten groups joined the dancing competition. GUIJO DUEÑAS/INQUIRER VISAYAS

ILOILO CITY—Giant bees, serpents and spiders towered over the city streets on Sunday, but the hundreds of thousands of revelers who came were thrilled rather than scared by the hideous creatures.

The “creatures”—made of paper, cardboard, plastic and pieces of wood—were after all only props of groups that participated in the Ati tribe contest of the Dinagyang Festival.

The streets reverberated with sounds of drum-beatings and shouts of “Viva Señor Sto. Niño” as more than one million people, including tourists, took part in the renowned festival over the weekend.

Police and organizers said the festival drew around 1.5 million revelers during its highlights on Saturday and Sunday, surpassing the estimated crowd of 1.2 million that came last year.

Hundreds of thousands packed the streets to watch the carousel-type Ati tribe dance contest and thousands more came to watch other performances that lasted until noon.

The revelries spilled over from the main streets of the city proper to the entertainment centers in other areas.

10 groups

There was a shortage of hotel rooms. Many guests had to stay in resorts and pension houses in neighboring towns, according to Maria Lea Victoria Lara, executive director of the Iloilo Business Club (IBC).

The performances during the Ati tribes contest on Sunday, the highlight of the festival, drew repeated applause and cheers from the audience.

The 10 groups that competed in the contest highlighted their performances with fast movements, repeated changes of stunning costumes, mobile platforms and stages, and elaborate props—including those giant bees, water serpents and spiders.

“We are continuously being invited to perform in other countries,” Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said.

Aquino message

In a message delivered by former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., President Aquino cited the importance of cultural festivals in nation-building.

“This year’s Dinagyang Festival brings us closer as a people,” the President said in his message. “It is by going back to the essence of our national identity—our heritage—that we gain a deeper understanding of our society, which is vital if we are to move forward together as one nation.”

Mr. Aquino added: “We have proven, time and again, that nothing is impossible to a determined and united people. We have proven that, in the face of challenges, we Filipinos can hold our heads high and smile. This festival reminds us what it means to be Filipino: To be kind-hearted, optimistic and persevering.”

The competing groups in the Ati tribe contest included Angola, Aninipay, Atub-Atub, Buntatalan-on, Ilonganon, Milagrosa, Molave, Pag-asa, Panayanon and Salognon.

Tribu Miro

The special participation of Tribu Miro, composed of members of the indigenous Ati community of Panay Island, was widely applauded.

The tribe, the only noncompeting group, was the first to perform at Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, the main judging area. They depicted their daily lives, including hunting and food gathering practices.

The Kasadyahan regional cultural competition on Saturday was also well attended, said Ben Jimena, city tourism officer.

Often playing second to the Ati tribe competition, the Kasadyahan is evolving into a festival of its own and organizers are studying plans to spin off the event into a festival separate from the Dinagyang, Jimena said.

The winners in the Kasadyahan and Ati tribe contests, who will get at least P1.75 million in total prizes, were expected to be announced last night.

1st festival

The Dinagyang, held every fourth Sunday of January, is among the festivals held in honor of the Sto. Niño.

It traces its roots to 1968, when Fr. Sulpicio Enderes, OSA, with a delegation of the Cofradia de Cebu, brought a replica of the image of the Child Jesus Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu to Iloilo City. The image was brought to San Jose Parish Church, where it is enshrined until now.

A year later, the first parish feast of Señor Sto. Niño was celebrated. The champion and runner-up in the Kalibo Ati-Atihan contest performed in what was considered the first Ati-Atihan festival in Iloilo City.

In 1970, the first Ati-Atihan contest of Iloilo was held at Freedom Grandstand. Seven years later, festival organizers changed “Ati-Atihan” to “Dinagyang” from the Hiligaynonword “dagyang,” or merrymaking.

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  • durian

    Wow!!! I have been in Iloilo a month ago and I really admire the place it’s  wonderful. Hope the Senators and other politicians who’s origin came from that place help support the improvement of the said place.  Iloilo could be transform into one of the tourist destination if only the politicians from that place could have a SOLID vision for the transformation of the place. As i see, Iloilo needs a bridge connecting Guimaras island & Guimaras Island also needs a bridge connecting to Negros Occidental.  Hope all concern politician will see the straight path….,

    • batangpaslit

      tanong Durian:
      sino ba sa mga politicians ang “humawak” ng Iloilo and Negros for the longest time?
      sila ang dapat sisihin
      they want these three islands to remain backward so that they could perpetually control commerce and tighten the political stronghold of these resource rich islands

      • chercher2013

        iloilo is not “backward” for your information. nakapunta ka na ba dito? you might consider visiting iloilo for a few days to validate your claims that iloilo is “backward”.

      • batangpaslit

        i employed the description in qualified terms.
        relatively, Iloilo is “backward” in comparison to Cebu, and other newly created cities
        in the 60s, Iloilo City is endearingly called the “Queen City of the South”.
        but not anymore.
        because the politicians who lord over Iloilo for scores and decades made it “backward”.
        Che, tingnan mo lang pier kung modern ang infrastructure.
        my roots from Iloilo.
        i am the great grandson of the lady warrior who hailded from Pototan that earned the moniker as the “Joan of Arc” in the Visayas
        i spent two years in Guimaras Island in search of an industry to develop as export product.
        kaya masakit ang loob ko sa mga feudal lords ng Iloilo because they keep Iloilo backward to perpetuate their dynastic rule.

      • leonsayanib

        Do something about it!! Don’t be like your great, brilliant, talkative do-nothing ancestors!!!! Bumalik ka ng Iloilo!

      • batangpaslit

        Leon, kaya mong ipusta ang bahay mo kung may bahay ka what i have accomplished for the old homeland?
        Nakapatayo ka ba ng mga distillery plants para sa ekonomiya ng bansa? Plural ha, hindi singular.

        You are mad because your ancestors who introduced idolatrous worship in the Philippines are the people that my ancestors opposed during the Hispanic Era, and American Regime.

        Your ancestors who deceived, cheated, and fooled the Filipino people were opposed by my ancestors.
        We the descendants of Nanay Isa may have been victimized by your kind. But, we are not cowed to fight back.
        Are you brave enough to chase the cattle rustlers that roam in the provinces of Antique, Capiz, Aklan, and Iloilo?
        Have you chased sea pirates victimizing fishermen that ply their trade between the straits of Panay and Mindoro?
        Tell me if you are brave enough what you have done for the good of the Filipino people?

        To conclude, you are pathetic, Bro.

        From the tone of your post, I know I hit your most sensitive nerve. I came from a clan of liberators.
        But you came from a family that oppressed, duped, and robbed the Filipino people.

      • leonsayanib

        To all your questions…. YES!!!

      • boldyak


      • boldyak

        taenamu…yabang mo

      • titolim

        hindi naman siguro paurong ang iloilo, napag iwanan lang compared to cebu or davao baka balang araw mag overtake din pero malabo ng makuha ang dating tawag na queen city of the south.

      • boldyak

        tado ka, sino ka para husgahan ang province namin na backward????…stfu

    • chercher2013

      The city and the province already transformed, and it is still progressing. A business district is on its way located at the old airport. If you have observed, the airport is one of the newest and modern in the country. Ilo-Guimaras bridge is possible but Ilo-Negros is, well, impossible. Ang layo kasi.

    • Yxon

      you dreaming…guimaras to negros??

  • batangpaslit

    why do people honor a god-child that has ears but can’t hear? have eyes but can’t see; have legas but can’t walk; have mouth but could not speak?

    • leonsayanib

      Because that’s exactly who you are!… have ears and cant hear… eyes and cant see… legs and cant walk… mouth and cant speak…  your own heritage and culture!!!

      • batangpaslit

        you are pathetic Leon
        you worship a god carved from a log, which the unfinished one is made into a firewood
        it is you who embraced an idolatrous culture.

      • boldyak

        anong paki mo sa iba?..who are you to judge us?…you don’t even know the meaning of worship….stfu

  • Louies


  • leonsayanib

    Devil’s advocate!! But honestly, DInagyang is really the only bright spot that lifts Iloilo and on which every spineless politician takes a free ride… They get a yearly high… as if they have done all there is to accomplish for Iloilo!!! Hehe

  • titolim

    mga kababayan don’t forget PINTADOS DE PASI,  every 3rd week of March Passi City, Iloilo 1 hour drive from Iloilo City, mas colorful at energetic ang mga warriors.

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