By Mariela Angella Oladive
The Iloilo Dinagyang Festival was named Best Festival in the Visayas region at the prestigious 2024 Philippine LEAF Awards after being a finalist in the Outstanding Festival category. The awarding ceremony took place on February 8 at the Metropolitan Theatre in Manila.
Artistic Director Elvert Bañares accepted the award on behalf of the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) and the entire Ilonggo community.
In his acceptance speech, Bañares expressed gratitude and pride for the recognition.
“Festivals are about people and community, so this award is for the people and the community. It symbolizes what we can achieve as one community—as Ilonggos, and as Filipinos,” he said, highlighting the festival’s roots in faith, imagination, and community, and its tribute to the region’s Indigenous Peoples, the Ati and Panay Bukidnon.
In a Facebook post, Mayor Jerry Treñas extended his thanks to everyone involved in the Dinagyang Festival’s success.
“We are deeply grateful to the LEAF Awards for recognizing the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival as the Best Festival in the Visayas, and we share this triumph with all who have contributed to its success… Thank you to everyone who has supported and celebrated with us. Together, we continue to shine on the national stage!”
Treñas emphasized the festival’s role in preserving Iloilo’s rich cultural heritage and stressed the trophy’s significance as a symbol of hard work, creativity, and dedication, representing the unity and pride of the Ilonggo community.
The trophy, adorned with the national leaf, the anahaw, and the traditional salakot, encapsulates the resilience, strength, and creativity inherent in Filipino culture. It serves as a fitting emblem for the festival’s victory and the broader mission of the awards to celebrate Filipino creativity and talent across various artistic domains.
The Philippine LEAF Awards are committed to acknowledging and celebrating the exceptional accomplishments of Filipino artists in live entertainment, arts, fashion, and festivals.
Other outstanding finalists from the Visayas region included Bailes de Luces of La Castellana, Negros Occidental; the Sinulog Festival of Cebu province; and the Kalibo Señor Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan.
As the city celebrates its well-deserved victory, it stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Ilonggo creativity, innovation, and cultural heritage.