If Brazil is to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the Philippines is to Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. It has been noted by no less than the National Commission for the Culture and Arts (NCCA) as “the festival of excellent folk choreography.”
The props, designs, and costumes – at Dinagyang Festival – dominate the Philippine Festivals with the Ilonggo’s rich Philippine folklore and cultural heritage.Dinagyang showcases the spectacular, tribal Ati-atihan’s (Philippine natives’ re-enactment, as the participating dancers / contingent cover themselves in soot or black paint) triumphant journey of Atis’ faith conversion from animism to Roman Catholicism.
The Atis have high respect for nature. And their love for mankind is a unifying example of the nature-loving and nature-protecting peoples of the Philippines.The participating dancers dress up as Ati warriors.They show off with the pompous street parade bursting with color in their exuberant costumes, cultural pride and theatrical expressions.Dinagyang, in the local vernacular means,“merry-making,” “revelry,” or “to be happy.”
Today, it is a religious-cultural festival that has become the basis of the country’s “culture of excellence,” even as it reaps awards after another, as the best festival in the country.Dinagyang Festival takes place in Iloilo City, nicknamed “City of Love,” on the 4th Sunday of January in honour to the patron image of Sto. Niño. The exhilarating festival is preceded by Kasadyahan (a regional cultural contest).Dinagyang is the BEST TOURISM EVENT by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines (ATOP) and is notably, the first festival in the world to gain the support of the United Nations, for the promotion of the Millenium Development Goals(MDGs). Dinagyang Festival will celebrate its 45th Anniversary in 2013.
Written by: Clee Albores-Villasor (Clee Andro)
Photos by: Joshua James Enriquez