Tag Archives: Dinagyang Festival

What Mabilog needs to hear from Drilon

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”
–Blaise Pascal

15231687_10208345768707238_507859276_o-copyBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — When President Duterte called Iloilo City as the “most shabulized” city in the Philippines and named Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as among the 159 local government executives in the entire country allegedly linked to narcotics trade in August 2016, Senator Frank Drilon expressed “hurt” and “sadness” that the City of Love has been “tarnished.”
Drilon never exonerated his second cousin Mabilog.
“Let me state that I am saddened and hurt that the perception that Iloilo local officials are involved in the drug trade became the basis of such a sweeping description of Iloilo,” Drilon sharply reacted.
“All the efforts of the Ilongos for the past five years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livable city is negated by a sweeping judgment of the city and province of Iloilo.”
Ilonggos have been waiting for Drilon to at least vouch for Mabilog, who had to agonize once again when he and fellow mayors faced his tormentor in Malacanang for another round of admonition on January 12, 2017.
The former senate president has been mum over Mabilog’s predicament.


Last January 22, 2017 before the start of the ati-ati tribes contest of the Dinagyang Festival at the Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City, Drilon reiterated his concern and love for the city, but never mentioned anything that could buoy Mabilog’s spirit in as far as the mayor’s dilemma with President Duterte is concerned.
Drilon announced: “We made a vow that in five years time, we will change the face of Iloilo. Today we are proud. Iloilo is the most progressive city in the whole country.”
“We made this change possible because of everyone’s support, because of a united leadership. This is why we’re able to move forward.”
Although the Liga ng Barangay (League of Barangays) headed by Reyland Hervias as well as Hervias’ colleagues in the Iloilo City Council have rallied behind the embattled Mabilog, it cannot be denied that he is still hurting from President Duterte’s tirades.


If there is any public official who holds a higher office in the country today who knows Mabilog so well, it’s Drilon.
Any statement from a highly-regarded politician like Drilon that would at least contradict or belie the accusation made by President Duterte against the No. 5 World Mayor, can more or less mitigate the burden Mabilog has been carrying inside his heart.
It can also help disabuse the minds of those who swallowed President Duterte’s allegations against Mabilog hook, line, and sinker.
For many Ilonggos who follow the issues on narco mayors in the country, only Drilon’s sympathetic words can help assuage Mabilog’s frazzled emotion; and, perhaps, influence the thinking of some of those who have written off Mabilog politically as a result of that negative tag.


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No terrorist will commit a hara-kiri in Dinagyang

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

— George Bernard Shaw


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I grew up in Iloilo City in the Philippines and witnessed how Dinagyang Festival started as a ramshackle religious and cultural activity until it blossomed into a behemoth international attraction.
Since the actual street dancing Dinagyang festivities romped off in the 70’s, the real problem was peace and order–drunken revelries, ill-behaved drug addicts and gangs composed of skinny but tattooed teenagers.
No invasion of the third kind. No rebellion. No earth-shaking tumult.
There were incidents of mugging, snatching, vandalism, acts of lasciviousness, street rumble, stabbing, among other street-level crimes. The police handled the situation and nipped the troublemakers in the bud.
It’s the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially shabu, and the sales of liquor in the streets that should be regulated if not stopped during the week-long festival in the month of January.
Not the “jamming” of cellular phone signals.


When communication lines are shut down during important events, we jeopardize the comfort and safety of visiting tourists and the residents who update their relatives abroad on what’s going on in their locality.
Drug addicts and drunken dolts don’t use high-tech communication gadgets to create trouble. Police deployed in performance areas can manually overpower any amok in the crowd.
No real terrorists from other regions–or even outside the country– will commit a hara-kiri or kamikaze attack by sneaking inside the well-guarded Iloilo City, surrounded by treacherous rivers, just to sabotage the Dinagyang.
If they intend to extort, bringing an explosive device in Iloilo City is like holding a microphone in public and announcing that they would pee at Plazoleta Gay.
If they intend to send a political message, they will not only be barking at the wrong tree, they will be in the wrong place of the planet. Malacanang and Imperial Manila are several islands and regions away.
Good that the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is reportedly not keen on recommending the jamming of mobile signals in the metropolis during the two-day Dinagyang highlights on January 21-22, 2017.


Signal jamming or shutting down cellular phone signals is necessary and effective in events where the visiting VIPs in the country are considered as “security risks.”
Especially when the occasion attracts a large number of crowd like the recent Black Nazarene procession, which drew 1.5 million devotees in the streets.
Like when Pope Francis visited the Philippines on January 15-19, 2015. And when state leaders gathered for the APEC Meeting.
Or even during the 2017 Miss Universe coronation night where foreign dignitaries and high government and military officials would be in attendance.
Mobile phone signals may also be jammed if there are special police operations like the raids conducted in the shabu-infested National Bilibid Prison.
The purpose is to prevent terrorists and criminals from sabotaging the events or operations by knocking out their communication.


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Evidence that Iloilo is great: Dinagyang

“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!


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