EXPERIENTIAL TWIST: No more Kasadyahan in Dinagyang 2020

A TRIBE performs during the Kasadyahan Festival of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. (June dale Lozada)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

KASADYAHAN Festival, the annual cultural dance competition, will no longer be part of the Dinagyang Festival starting 2020.

This was confirmed by Salvador Sarabia Jr., the executive director of Iloilo City’s Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions (MICE) Center, in an interview on Thursday.

“Yes, it is official, there will be no Kasadyahan this Dinagyang. Kasadyahan may be placed in a lean month, because it’s more cultural,” he said.

Instead of the usual “Kasadyahan,” Sarabia said they will bring back the usual “sadsad” or merry making which will include the private sector, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders.

“They will form their own tribes with their own drums and private sectors will also be enjoined for the ‘sadsad’ or merrymaking,” he explained.

Sarabia said the new festival organizer, Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI), proposed that Kasadyahan Festival will be replaced by merry making or the “sadsad” to give way for a more experiential Dinagyang Festival.

“The tourists and the public can join the ‘sadsad’ because what we want is to really give a twist to the iconic Dinagyang Festival. It will now be a vibrant Dinagyang Festival. We want it to be experiential and promote more people involvement,” he emphasized.

Sadsad, however, is not an original idea because it has been the central feature of Ati-atihan of Kalibo, Aklan, which is dubbed as the mother of all cultural festivals in the Philippines.

Sarabia also said that the upcoming Dinagyang tribe dance competition will be a “360-degree” performance at the Freedom Grandstand.

“We plan to put barges on the river for the guests. We want it to be a 360-degree performance,” he said.

He added that they are also looking into cutting the performance areas from five to three to avoid long and tiresome performances for the dancers.

Meanwhile, Sarabia clarified that they will still stage the Kasadyahan Festival in a separate month or possibly incorporate it in the celebration of Iloilo City’s Charter Day next year.

The idea of splitting Kasadyahan Festival from Dinagyang Festival originally came up from the Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting of the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) in July 2019.

The forum sought recommendations and suggestions from the media, academe, government, national institutions, tribe leaders, and designers on the conduct of the Dinagyang Festival.

Kasadyahan features cultural performances of festivals in the province of Iloilo. Through the years, it also opened its doors to festivals outside the province, reaching out to cities and provinces and cities not only in Western Visayas but other parts of the country.

The cultural dance competition happens every Saturday, the day before the highly-anticipated Ati tribes dance competition.