“Each year, every city in the world that can should have a multiday festival. More people meeting each other, digging new types of music, new foods, new ideas. You want to stop having so many wars? This could be a step in the right direction.” Henry Rollins
By Alex P. Vidal
THE media coverage of the Dinagyang Festival has improved by leaps and bounds.
From the decrepit black and white digital prints and small-scale region-wide television, radio and newspaper coverage, to the global and even cosmological villages.
Technology has enabled people around the universe to watch the annual religious and cultural presentations “live” as they take place at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand and other areas in the metropolis every third week of January, the feast of patron saint, Senor Santo Nino (Jesus the child).
Planetary audience isn’t even far-fetched as aliens interested to know what’s going on in this part of the planet can even have a ringside view of Dinagyang through the high-tech gadgets attached to satellites.
Because of enormous publicity in the media and the internet (news websites and social media most particularly) before and during the festival these past years, showcasing Iloilo’s beauty, greatness and potentials wasn’t anymore a herculean or preposterous undertaking.
Fully-booked hotels, tourist arrivals that include balikbayans, political, sports and entertainment heartthrobs, and the jampacked malls, are solid manifestations that Iloilo is now a big thing because of Dinagyang.
For Ilonggos, there is no other powerful and most effective way to promote the city and province than through the Dinagyang.
It is during the festival where both the government, educational, business and religious sectors pool their resources together and take active part to ensure its success.
Not even the hosting of a national confab of economists and financial gurus, religious sects, medical practitioners, media moguls, tourism executives, rock concerts, gathering of comedians and showbiz stars, noontime TV shows, or even presidential visit can beat Dinagyang in terms of promoting Iloilo and unveiling its natural wealth before the international stage.
Dinagyang has become synonymous to the Ilonggos’ penchant to advertise their uniqueness and creativeness vis-à-vis national celebrations, commemorations of historical and spiritual events, of customs and traditions.
In Dinagyang, we tell the world who and what we are, where we came from, why we exist.
Dinagyang is the Ilonggos’ soul, pride, and national identify.
We tell the world that we have a rich cultural and religious heritage, our native ancestry, our compact history as a Visayan community.
Somewhere all over the Visayas, as well as around the Philippines, parallel festivals are also held annually to celebrate Senor Sto. Nino.
Every first month of the year, colorful ati (native) dance, fluvial parades, sports activities, and other religious and cultural programs are also buzzing in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Aklan and other municipalities that venerate the kid saint.
Festivals in these places, too, have their own success stories in terms of tourism and business opportunities.
Dinagyang has pulled Iloilo up despite its dialectical materialism.
The collective efforts of local officials—with the help of the Filipino-Chinese community, the churches, the Department of Education, and all the stakeholders–have bore fruits.
Viva Senor Sto. Nino!