Dagyang sa Dinagyang!


Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | May 03, 2013
Dagyang sa Dinagyang!

Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City to honor the Sto. Niño and celebrate the arrival of Malays in Panay and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis. It is held on the fourth Sunday of January or right after Aklan's Ati-atihan and Cebu's Sinulog.

"Dinagyang" is an Ilonggo term which means merrymaking or revelry. "Dinagyang" was coined in 1977 by Pacifico Sudario, an Ilonggo writer and broadcaster, to describe the riotous celebration. It was labeled "Iloilo Ati-atihan" before to differentiate it from other Ati-atihan festivals.

Dinagyang is not as old as the one celebrated in Kalibo, Aklan Ati-atihan but it is competitively striking and impressive for tourists, photographers and travelers when it comes to the costumes, attires worn by the participating tribes that reflect the artistry and ingenuity of Ilonggos.

Timeline History:

  • 1967 - A replica of the image of Señor Sto. Niño was first brought by the San Jose Parish in Iloilo City from Cebu. The image accompanied by the devotees from Cebu was willingly received at the Mandurriao Airport by the people of Iloilo.

  • 1969 - The Ati-Atihan contest became a part of the cultural aspect of the celebration with only four tribes participating. The celebration has progressed into a more colorful and pompous affair that includes the participation of more tribes and groups.

  • 1974 - The Dinagyang Festival played a vital role in the "Operation Balikbayan" program of the then Ministry of Tourism when some of the tribes provided tourists with a unique form of cultural entertainment.

  • 1976 - Street revelry and audience participation were encouraged. From mere spectators of the performances of various competing tribes, the 1976 festivities offered people their first chance to wildly gyrate in the streets, to shed off inhibitions and to forget the cares, pressures and vexations of everyday life.

  • 1977 - An authentic Ati tribe from the mountains of Barotac Viejo was invited by the Dinagyang organizers and by the Regional Association of National Government Executives to perform and display their native dances.

  • 1978 to present - the Dinagyang Festival has evolved into a big religious and cultural activity supported by both the government and the private sectors. It now features cultural presentations, sports competitions and various side events.

  • 2006-2008 - Dinagyang Festival is the country's tourism event of the year by ATOP (Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines) for 3 consecutive years.

Through the years, the Dinagyang Festival has brought a lot of innovations. First, the carousel performance is the simultaneous performance of the competing tribes in different judging areas. The mobile riser which was introduced by Tribu Bola-bola in 1994 has added depth and improved choreography has become a prominent feature until today. The Dinagyang Pipes first used by Tribu Ilonganon in 2005 that produce distinct sounds. Lastly, Dagoy... Dagoy is the first festival mascot in the Philippines.

(reference: dinagyangsailoilo.com | Dinagyang Festival file photos by Mary Jane Cabrera of maryjanecabrera.com)

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