By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The city and province of Iloilo stand ready to welcome spectators from across the globe to partake in the grand celebration of the world-renowned Dinagyang Festival this week.
“Ready na nga mag Hala Bira ang syudad sang Iloilo upod ang probinsya sang Iloilo. Ihatag natun and tanan nga dungog kay Señor Sto. Niño para sa atun nga Dinagyang Festival 2024,” said Eric Divinagracia, the festival’s artistic director, in a press conference on Monday.
With schools making a comeback to the tribes’ competition of the festival, Divinagracia said “Dinagyang is back to its form, and we can expect an exciting performance from our Ilonggo artists through our Dinagyang warriors.”
He also noted that both the Dinagyang Tribes Competition and the Kasadyahan Festival have been tirelessly preparing over the past several weeks, ensuring that this year’s festivities will be nothing short of spectacular.
The tribes competing in the Dinagyang Tribes Competition on January 28 include Tribu Ilonganon, Tribu Mandu-riyaw, Tribu Paghidaet, Tribu Pan-ay, Tribu Salognon, Tribu Sigabong, Tribu Silak, and Tribu Taga-Baryo.
The ILOmination Streetdance Competition and Floats Parade of Lights on January 26 will feature seven tribes representing each district of the city, such as Tribu Arevalo (Kahirup), Tribu City Proper (Ilonggohanon), Tribu Jaro (Buntag-tala), Tribu La Paz (Sagasa), Tribu La Puz (Sidlangan), Tribu Mandurriao, and Tribu Molo (IAFA).
Hosted for the first time by the provincial government, the Kasadyahan sa Kabanwahanan will showcase nine festivals from the different competing towns in the province.
The nine competing tribes include the Katagman Festival of Oton, Saad Festival of Leganes, Pantat Festival of Zarraga, Cry of Jelicuon Festival of New Lucena, Kaing Festival of Leon, Tultugan Festival of Maasin, Hirinugyaw-Suguidadonay Festival of Calinog, Banaag Festival of Anilao, and Kasag Festival of Banate.
Spectators will have the opportunity to witness the grand showcase of the richness of Iloilo’s culture and traditions in four judging areas: Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, Iloilo Provincial Capitol, Mabini or Delgado Street, and Quezon or Ledesma Street.
As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, sumptuous delicacies will also be showcased by local merchants in the Dinagyang Food Festival, where 500 food kiosks will be stationed in the Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao, along with an additional 200 in the downtown area.
The Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. said it expects at least 200,000 spectators to fill the city streets during the weeklong celebration of the Dinagyang Festival.
“Last year, it was over 100,000 and this year, we are preparing for double. We do not have the data yet of the arrival but our preparation is there. It is double this year because it’s for free. It’s not a ticketed event. It’s a festival for everyone,” it said.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said in a press conference on Monday that local and foreign spectators are poised to experience a notch-higher set of activities during the festivities.
“The Dinagyang this year will be a level-up one since the IFFI is no longer worrying about funds and we are happy because of our private sector partners,” he said.
The city mayor has confirmed that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will not be joining the Dinagyang Festival. It is still uncertain also whether First Lady Liza Marcos will be gracing the event.
“The Dinagyang Festival is inclusive to whatever your political color is. We will welcome everyone here and we will give them the kind of welcome that we give to everybody,” Treñas added.