‘ALL FOR STO. NIÑO’: Iloilo festivals triumph at Aliwan Fiesta 2024

Tribu Pan-ay performs at Aliwan Festival. (City Hall photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

Iloilo festivals dominated this year’s Aliwan Fiesta Streetdance Competition, held on June 29 in Pasay City.

The Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City, represented by Tribu Pan-ay, secured a back-to-back victory as the grand champion, marking its 8th championship win.

In addition to the main award, the Dinagyang Festival clinched the Best Costume award and emerged as the champion for the Tugtog ng Aliwan, held on June 27. They also received the Bingo Plus Award.

Meanwhile, the Tultugan Festival of Maasin, Iloilo, secured second place in both the street dance competition and Tugtog ng Aliwan.

The festival also won the Best Musical Accompaniment award. The Tultugan Festival celebrates the municipality’s abundant bamboo supply, particularly the “kawayan tinik” variety. Performers creatively incorporate bamboo into their props, costumes, and instruments.

The Dinagyang Festival took home a P1.5 million cash prize, while the Tultugan Festival earned P750,000 in prize money.

Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) Artistic Director Eric Divinagracia shared the concept behind Dinagyang’s winning performance, explaining it revolved around the Ilonggos’ strong devotion to Sto. Niño.

“Our performance features many elements, impressive props, and elaborate sets, but these do not overwhelm the dagyang, our dance; the essence of the festival remains. [This is] all for Sto. Niño. The story develops from the discovery of Panay to Dinagyang, showcasing our strong devotion,” Divinagracia said.

IFFI President Allan Ryan Tan lauded the performers.

“Since day one, I have attended their practice, and I have seen how much they have progressed each day. Today’s performance was full of surprises and energy. I am proud of our tribe’s performance,” he said.

Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. extended his congratulations to Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City and Mayor Francis Amboy of Maasin, Iloilo, praising their leadership in promoting cultural heritage through these renowned festivals.

“I am immensely proud of Mayor Treñas and Mayor Amboy for their exceptional stewardship. These festivals not only highlight Iloilo’s vibrant culture but also strengthen our community bonds,” Defensor remarked.

Mayor Treñas celebrated Iloilo’s achievements, expressing pride in the community’s dedication and the festivals’ national recognition. “Iloilo has reigned supreme at the Aliwan Fiesta. We are incredibly proud of Dinagyang and Tultugan. This achievement showcases our culture and heritage on the national stage with unparalleled passion and grace,” he said.

He further emphasized Dinagyang’s potential for international recognition, noting its eight championships as the country’s best festival.

He expressed gratitude to everyone involved, especially the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., and Fort San Pedro National High School.

“Let us continue to celebrate our cultural heritage and strive for excellence in all our endeavors.”

Tribu Pan-ay of Fort San Pedro National High School won the championship crown in the Tribes Competition, while the Tultugan Festival claimed victory in the “Kasadyahan sa Kabanwahanan” during the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival last January 28.

The Aliwan Fiesta brings together the best festivals from across the country, celebrating the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage. This year’s competition featured 15 festivals, each showcasing unique traditions and stories.

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