Dinagyang Festival to go back to its roots – organizers

/ 06:20 PM September 17, 2019
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Dancers from Tribu Pan-ay perform in the Ati tribes contest during the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. —JUN ROJAS

ILOILO CITY–Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival which has become an internationally-renowned spectacle is going back to its roots amid what organizers say is a revamp in response to a clamor from Ilonggos.

The Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI), a newly formed foundation composed of business owners and civic leaders who will manage the city’s major festivals, announced that there will a reorientation of the festival after it met with representatives of various sectors to get insights on how to improve the city’s foremost festival.


The IFFI replaced the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. which previously managed the festival.

Among the thrusts is the bringing back of the sadsad (street-dancing) as a major component of the festival.


The “Dagyang Sa Calle Real” on January 25, 2020 will be held at the historic Calle Real (Iznart and J.M. Basa Streets), the old commercial center, where the facade of art deco buildings have been restored.

Jose Marie Layson, IFFI board director, said this in response to an observation by Ilonggos that the Dinagyang has become an event for spectators instead of being participatory as in the earlier years of the festival.

The street dancing will be joined by tribes from barangays of the city.

The main event, the Ati tribe dancing competition on January 26, 2020, will be participated by eight school-based tribes.

The prizes for winners have also been significantly increased with the champion getting P5 million in cash and school projects from last year’s P350,000.

The first runner up will get a total of P3.5 million in cash and school projects while the second runner-up will receive a total of P2.25 million.

“Dinagyang 2020 will be far better than previous celebrations. With the IFFI, we will bring the festival to its next level…,” said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas during the launching of the festival on Monday.


Another major change is the spinning off of the Kasadyahan cultural festival as a distinct and separate festival from the Dinagyang.

Usually held on Saturday, a day before the Ati tribe dance competition, the Kasadyahan will be held in August in time for the city’s charter day, according to IFFI president Jobert Peñaflorida.
Held every fourth weekend of January, the Dinagyang is among the many festivals held to profess devotion to the Child Jesus, Sto. Niño.

Dinagyang is rooted in the bringing of the replica of the image of the Child Jesus Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu to Iloilo City in 1968 by a delegation of the Cofradia de Cebu and Fr. Sulpicio Enderes, OSA.

The image is enshrined at the San Jose Parish Church.

What is considered as the first Ati-Atihan festival in Iloilo City was held in 1969 during the celebration of the first parish feast of Señor Sto. Niño where the champion and runner-up in the Kalibo Ati-Atihan contest performed.

In 1977, festival organizers changed “Ati-Atihan” to “Dinagyang” from the Hiligaynon word “dagyang” or merrymaking./ac

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