Dinagyang Festival shows shift in Iloilo politics
ILOILO CITY—The grand celebration for the 50th anniversary of Dinagyang Festival also reflected the shift in politics in Iloilo City and the province of Iloilo, known to be the bailiwick of the Liberal Party (LP).
Even as organizers stressed the nonpolitical nature of the festival, proadministration politicians were visible among the spectators at Iloilo Freedom Grandstand to watch the festivities.
Sen. Cynthia Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP), which is part of the administration coalition, was the main guest and spoke in the opening program where she described Dinagyang as the “best tourism event in the Philippines.”
Politicians as guests
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.; his sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos; Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles; and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque were seated with Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III.
Governor Marcos, at one time, sat beside former Guimaras Gov. and Rep. Emily Relucio-Lopez.
Lopez’s husband, Albertito, one of the six children of former Vice President Fernando Lopez Sr. and Maria “Mariquit” Javellana-Lopez, was Iloilo representative from 1987 to 1998.
Properties of the Lopez family were sequestered during the regime of the Marcos siblings’ father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Imee wore a Dinagyang headdress and gamely had a “groufie” with spectators at the grandstand.
The Marcoses later had lunch with Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor, a former LP member who joined the administration Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, at the provincial capitol.
Conspicuously absent was Sen. Franklin Drilon, an Iloilo native, who had attended and had spoken in previous stagings of Dinagyang, especially during the term of former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Mabilog has not returned to the country after he left in August last year amid repeated public accusations of President Duterte linking him to illegal drugs.
Espinosa, who replaced Mabilog after the Ombudsman ordered the latter’s dismissal from office for a graft charge, belongs to NP.
In the Dinagyang competition, a former champion regained the coveted top prize in the Ati tribes contest.
Tribu Panayanon of Iloilo City National High School was proclaimed champion on Sunday night and received P250,000.
The tribe, which won the top prize for three consecutive years from 2013 to 2015, also received separate awards for music, choreography and performance.
Tribu Panayanon beat last year’s champion, Tribu Salognon (Jaro National High School), which finished first runner-up.
In the Kasadyahan regional cultural contest held on Saturday, Hubon Mangunguma of San Lorenzo town, Guimaras, was declared champion.
Spectators cheered as dancers in colorful costumes performed with props of giant mushrooms, lizards, flowers, bees and wild pigs.
Ramon Cua Locsin, president of Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc., the private organization that manages Dinagyang, said the festival had become an “icon” of institutionalized public-private partnership.
The performances attracted at least 50,000 spectators in the five performance areas alone, based on police estimates.
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