DINAGYANG REDEFINED: Opening salvo to unveil a new generation festival

Organizers of Dinagyang 2020 vowed to bring back the festival to the people by instituting changes to the rules and performances and by tapping cultural workers who will mentor and nurture the participating tribes. We will get a glimpse of these innovations during the opening salvo today, Jan 10. (Ramil Gorrieza photo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Today’s opening salvo is not just a sneak peek of the performances of Ati tribes that will compete in Dinagyang 360 contest on Jan 26, 2020.

It will also provide a glimpse of the much-awaited changes that Ilonggos and tourists crave and expect from the country’s best tourism event.

This was the assurance of film director and cultural worker Elvert Bañares in a conversation over coffee and cake at Hotel del Rio this week.

Bañares chairs the judging and souvenir committees and a member of the artistic committee of the Iloilo Festival Foundation Inc, the main organizer of Dinagyang 2020. The latter body has been instrumental in instilling the 360 concept in the festival which aims to “democratize” the way the performances are seen by spectators.

“We don’t want the tribes to perform for the judges only. This is the people’s festival, so it is only natural that the tribes perform for them,” he added.

He discussed a lot about the 360 concept as to its effects on choreography and the props but we will hold on to these details until Jan 26 to heighten our expectations.

Aside from the artistic and technical novelties in Dinagyang 2020, Bañares said their innovations also effected cultural and behavioral changes in the tribes.

“Please don’t expect that two or more tribes will render poor or ho-hum performances this year. Regardless of their rankings in past festivals, the tribes’ energy is something else. They now take pride in their routines and dance their hearts out,” he added.

Bañares said instead of acting as organizers who impose, the artistic committee served as guides or mentors to the choreographers, dancers, drummers, and even the managers. He observed the change when he visited the practices or blockings of the tribes in past weeks.

“Before, the managers tend to pamper or please committee members. We discouraged them from doing so this time, because we want them to regard us as their partners and mentors, not rule-makers,” he said.

This approach is no surprise since the members of the IFFI committees are cultural workers. Apart from Bañares, renowned theatre director Professor Eric Divinagracia heads the artistic committee.

“We want to give back the festival to the people and its roots. And that’s our function as cultural workers. We nurture, instead of imposing,” Bañares said.

In fact, the new rules on props and other technicalities of the tribe performances were agreed upon by the tribes. This way, no one will complain that one tribe had an advantage over the other in terms of the rules.

Today’s opening salvo serves as a dry-run of Dinagyang 360, an arena theater-type performance and carousel parade around downtown Iloilo City on Jan 26.

Eight tribes will perform a five-minute maximum presentation

-Tribu Panayanon of Iloilo City National High School (NHS);

-Tribu Baybayanon of Melchor L. Nava NHS;

-Tribu Ilonganon of Jalandoni NHS;

-Tribu Salognon of Jaro NHS;

-Tribu Hugponganon of Tiu Cho Teg-Ana Ros Foundation Integrated School;

-Tribu Baryohanon of Bo. Obrero NHS;

-Tribu Paghidaet of La Paz NHS; and

-Tribu Dagatnon of Ramon Avanceña Memorial NHS.

The event will also include a prelude of the six barangay-based tribes that will perform in Dagyang sa Calle – Angola, Aninipay, Molave, Sagasa, Sagrada, and Parianon. They will be joined by remaining three veteran tribes of Kanyao, Hamili, and Panaad to revive the old vibe of merry-making from Freedom Grandstand to Solis St. and back on Jan 25.

Eleven candidates of Miss Iloilo 2020 will also have their public appearance. They have started their journey to the three major titles during the Main Pageant Night at West Visayas State University Cultural Center on Jan. 23.

The candidates are

1.) Syra Jinon Jagunap, 18, of Leganes;

2.) Desiree Jane Espa Tubaon, 22, of Igbaras;

3.) Tarilaye Figalan John Beke, 25, of Pavia;

4.) Rabiya Occena Mateo, 23, of Balasan;

5.) Mary Desiree Defante Rendoque, 18, of Cabatuan;

6.) Sharamie Apuli Solocio, 18, of Sta. Barbara;

7.) Blessie Jay Senerez Villablanca, 21, of La Paz, Iloilo City;

8.) Keshapor Nam Empedrad Ramachand Ran, 19, of Bo. Obrero, Lapuz, Iloilo City;

9.) Darra Lorreine Galvan Sadsad, 20, of Sibunag, Guimaras;

10.) Karen Laurrie Bano Mendoza, 24, of Concepcion, Iloilo; and

11.) Ann Roxal Dedel Palmares, 20, of Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

This year’s festival is themed “Celebrating the Ilonggo Spirit in Honor of Señor Santo Niño” to highlight the devotion to the child Jesus. (With a report from City Hall PIO)