A de­vo­tion to the Santo Niño with a unique tribal twist


T he Di­nagyang Fes­ti­val is a reli­gious and cul­tural fes­ti­val in Iloilo City held on the fourth Sun­day of Jan­uary, or right af­ter the Sin­u­log in Cebu and the Ati-Ati­han Fes­ti­val in Kal­ibo, Ak­lan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to cel­e­brate the ar­rival on Panay of Malay set­tlers and the sub­se­quent sell­ing of the is­land to them by the Atis.


Di­nagyang be­gan af­ter Rev. Fr. Am­bro­sio Galin­dez, the first Fil­ipino Rec­tor of the Agus­tinian Com­mu­nity and Par­ish Priest of the San Jose Par­ish in­tro­duced the de­vo­tion to Santo Niño in Novem­ber 1967 af­ter ob­serv­ing the Ati-Ati­han Fes­ti­val in the prov­ince of Ak­lan. On 1968, a replica of the orig­i­nal im­age of the Santo Niño de Ce- bu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpi­cio En­derez of Cebu as a gift to the Par­ish of San Jose. The faith­ful, led by mem­bers of Con­fra­dia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chap­ter, worked to give the im­age a fit­ting re­cep­tion start­ing at the Iloilo Air­port and parad­ing down the streets of Iloilo.

In the begin­ning, the ob­ser­vance of the feast was con­fined to the par­ish. The Con­fra­dia pat­terned the cel­e­bra­tion on the Ati-ati­han of Iba­jay, Ak­lan, where na­tives dance in the streets, their bod­ies cov­ered with soot and ashes, to sim­u­late the Atis danc­ing to cel­e­brate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the pro­to­type of the present fes­ti­val.

A par­tic­i­pant of Di­nagyang Fes­ti­val

In 1977, the Mar­cos gov­ern­ment or­dered the var­i­ous re­gions of the Philip­pines to come up with fes­ti­vals or cel­e­bra­tions that could boost tourism and de­vel­op­ment. The City of Iloilo read­ily iden­ti­fied the Iloilo Ati-ati­han as its project. At the same time the lo­cal par­ish could no longer han­dle the grow­ing chal­lenges of the fes­ti­val.

Di­nagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Tourism Of­fi­cers in the Philip­pines and cited by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank as Best Prac­tice on gov­ern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor & NGO co­op­er­a­tives.


The Di­nagyang Fes­ti­val is di­vided into three ma­jor events held an­nu­ally ev­ery fourth week­end of Jan­uary: Ati Tribe Com­pe­ti­tion (held on a Sun­day), Kasadya­han Cul­tural Com­pe­ti­tion (held on a Satur­day prior to the main event the next day, the Ati Tribe com­pe­ti­tion) and the Miss Iloilo Di­nagyang (which is held on the week of the main Di­nagyang Fes­ti­val high­lights).

The main part of the fes­ti­val which is the Ati Tribe com­pe­ti­tion con­sists of a num­ber of “war-

rior” dancers ( who hold a shield in one hand and a spear in an­other) in a tribe ( lo­cally called “tribu”) danc­ing in a chore­ographed for­ma­tion and pat­terns as well as chant­ing to the sound of loud drum beats and im­pro­vised per­cus­sion in­stru­ments in­no­vated by the re­spec­tive tribes. In the early years, a num­ber of tribes where cre­ated, founded and or­ga­nized by some of the barangay or com­mu­ni­ties around the city but through the years and a s t h e D in­agyang evolves and the com­pe­ti­tion be­comes com­pet­i­tive gain­ing world­wide fame and at­ten­tion, schools are start­ing to cre­ate and or­ga­nize tribes in­tro­duc­ing dy­namic new dance pat­terns, for­ma­tions and chore­og­ra­phy so­lic­it­ing spon­sors from pri­vate com­pa­nies for ex­penses and cost of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion. /wikipedia

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