Dinagyang kickoff wakes the city up

Dinagyang season officially opens with the Pamukaw, a rousing wakeup call featuring faith, music, and dances. (Arnold Almacen/CMO photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Drumbeats and prayers were the first order of business Friday morning as the traditional ‘Pamukaw’ (wakeup call) kicked off the return of the 2023 Dinagyang Festival in a physical setup.

Ilonggos from all different parts of the city and the province brought their images of Señor Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus), in different colors and sizes.

Dinagyang dancers also performed to further pump up the early morning event.

The ‘Pamukaw’ was marked by a program attended by local and San Jose Parish Placer leaders, who imparted messages of hope and resilience, as the festival returns to the streets.

San Jose Parish Placer parish priest, Rev. Fr. Renchie Vicente T. Senoro, OSA highlighted the role of the Infant Jesus in the celebration of the festival and the resurgence of the people into physical celebrations.

“The Sto. Niño holds the world in his hand. He holds your life and mine, and the history of our country in his hands, which, though little, are the hands of God. We must never lose hope, no matter what happens, and we should always work to make things better because we are the hands of God,” Senoro said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the loosening of pandemic restrictions called for the need for a “bigger, bolder, and brighter” Dinagyang Festival celebration.

He also called the ‘Pamukaw’ “a message of hope and victory” after rounds of pandemic-related lockdowns in the past 2 years.

“Dinagyang is more than just an event that can be captured by the lenses and seen in the photos. It is a must, a must-feel, a must-see. It is an experience of culture, of heritage, of faith and devotion, and most of all, an expression of love,” the mayor said.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.’s message was read by his wife Michelle, where he called the activity a testament to Ilonggos’ resolve against the pandemic, even in its brunt.

“We are here to today, we continue to thrive, [and we are] ready to mark the start of the Dinagyang Festivities because we strongly fought the battle. We never wavered until we reached where we are now,” the governor’s message read.

The ‘Pamukaw’ is one of the pre-festival activities of the 56th Dinagyang Festival, the next one being the Opening Salvo on January 13, 2023.

The main festival, the first physical celebration since 2021, will be held on January 20 to 22, 2023.