Dinagyang started in the early 1970s and I can still recall that is was an unruly celebration. A lot of”bad” people would apply soot or black matters to color people so they will become like the Atis. During those times, I was still in college and really would join in the fun…at first the application of soot was taken as part of the enjoyment but it soon became unruly with people applying soot to just anybody even if you are not joining the revelry. The ladies became a target and some would use the soot application to touch the ladies private parts. It became a nightmare for those initially enjoying the fun. The City Government soon declared that it is illegal to apply soot and deployed lots of policemen all over the area where the competitions and the revelry is done.
As the years passed, the novelty of watching the festival waned and we started watching the festival only in our home as the competition is televised. Our Office is very near the Freedom grandstand where presentation are done and is one of the judging areas and sometimes we would go to the Office and watch from the balcony of the roofdeck of our Office. The beat of the drums create a certain euphoria and makes one dance to its rhythm.
I have never attended the High Mass every January 25 and it is so hard to go the City Proper as the area is closed to traffic. Only vehicles with car passes can go near San Jose Church.
This year, traffic is already closed as early as 5:30AM but I decided to attend the High Mass. I took public transport from our place and got a trisikad at the Iloilo Terminal Market to be able to reach San Jose Church. Mass has not started but the Church was already full. I was able to go near the front area of the Church where the pews are allocated for dignitaries. As soon as they came in, the area became so full of people…lots of bodyguards, policemen and even old ladies who would like to be near the altar.
This is how full the Church is during the High Mass Celebration for Dinagyang Festival. The Church is fully decorated, even the chandeliers have flowers.
Miss Dinagyang 2015 and her Court also attended the Mass. This picture was taken after they have transferred seats where it is not so crowded.
City Officials led by Mayor Jed Mabilog lead guests outside the Church before they proceed to the Freedom Grandstand. I was told by the police and a staff of the City Hall not to pass on the side of the plaza as the Mayor and his guests will be passing that way!!
This is the carriage where the Dinagyang beauties will ride during the parade & competition. There are four (?) judging areas where there are areas where guests, paying spectators and and judges are seated. I have not experienced watching the Dinagyang in any of these areas because there are too many people and it is quite difficult to move to and out of the area. Although our office is very near Judging area 1, we can not anymore see anything as the grandstand was extended into half of the street. In addition, the entrance of the tribes is now on Mapa Street instead of J.M. Basa from Plaza Libertad thus there is no way that we can see the tribes.
I decided to go the Mapa Street so I can take photos of the costumes of the tribes. There are two guest tribes from the two sisters cities of Iloilo, the cities of Tacurong and Koronadal. These are some of the dancers of the Tacurong delegation.
The program started with speeches of the Mayor, the Congressman Trenas and Senator Drilon. It was filled with acknowledgement of each other and the guests.
Delegation from Koronadal City
I really love the T’boli costume..with the handwoven cloth and unique accessories.
The following are pictures of the four tribes that I was able to shoot…while they are preparing for their presentation.
1. Tribu Paghidaet (second place)
I was amazed at the skill of the tribes in organization. Tribu Paghidaet is a big tribe composed of students and teachers of Lapaz National High School. There are several changes of costumes, props, etc. but they all managed to do it well.
2. Tribu Atub-atub
I do not have very good pictures as the performance area is quite far and there are lots of people watching aside from the so many policemen and women plus students guarding the area so that public will not hamper the entry of the tribes.
3. Tribu Ilawodnon
4. Tribu Baybayon