‘Virtual’ Dinagyang Festival highlights resilience amid pandemic | Inquirer News

‘Virtual’ Dinagyang Festival highlights resilience amid pandemic

/ 04:40 AM January 25, 2022

DANCE TRIBUTE Ati tribes perform a dance tribute to the Sto. Niño in prerecorded video presentations for Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival streamed on social media platforms on Sunday. —ILOILO DINAGYANG FACEBOOK PHOTO

ILOILO CITY, Philippines —This city’s famed Dinagyang Festival was held online for the second straight year on Sunday, centering on resilience and collectivity amid record-high COVID-19 cases.

The Ati tribe dance contest, the highlight of the annual festival, was streamed on the social media sites of the Iloilo City government, Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. and news outlets.


The performances of seven tribes were prerecorded last December before the city and the entire Western Visayas region was placed under alert level 3 in mid-January up to the end of the month.

Similar to 2021, there was no carousel-type parade and street dancing competition of tribes for the fourth Sunday of the January festivity that had previously drawn hundreds of thousands of spectators from all over the country and abroad.


The almost four-hour video stream started with the concelebrated Mass in honor of Señor Sto. Niño at 7 a.m. from the San Jose Placer Parish Church. There was no in-person audience.

Dedication, perseverance

In his message, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said mounting the festival amid the pandemic on virtual platforms was “truly challenging” and required a “huge amount of dedication and perseverance,” but it was pursued due to the Ilonggos’ “ardent desire to give honor to Señor Sto. Niño.”

The Dinagyang, the biggest tourism and religious event of Iloilo, is among the festivals held every January in honor of the Sto. Niño.

The holding of the festival is “a manifestation of our creativity and ingenuity as Ilonggos and of our commitment to preserve our rich culture despite the challenges of the time,” the mayor added.

Iloilo City is experiencing a spike in cases that has surpassed the highest record number of infections since 2020, prompting the cancellation of several events, including food and music festivals and the trimming down of sports activities.

The Department of Health in Western Visayas recorded 635 new COVID-19 cases in the city on Jan. 22 out of the total 1,742 for the region.


Seven tribes—representing the city’s seven geographical districts and each composed of 20 performers, 15 musicians, 10 artistic staff and a seven-member film crew—were fully vaccinated and underwent swab tests before their rehearsals, according to the festival organizers.


Eric Divinagracia, director of the Dinagyang tribes competition, said the seven tribes represented a cultural value that symbolized the resilience of Ilonggos amid the two-year pandemic.

The tribes and the value each represent are: Villa-Arevalo (pagsinadya, or celebration), Molo (pag-amliganay, or nurturing), City Proper (paghigugma, or love), Mandurriao (pagpahanggud, or growth), Jaro (pagtililipon, or gathering, Lapaz (paghirupay, or closeness) and Lapuz (pag-intindihanay, or understanding). INQ

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TAGS: COVID-19, Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo City, Sto. Niño
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