‘FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT’: Dinagyang 2023 showcases Ilonggo spirit of revival

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Photos by Arnold Almacen

Dinagyang 2023 is a community that is moving from darkness to the light.

This is how film director Elvert Bañares, tribes committee chair of the Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc (IFFI), describes the festival that returns to a face-to-face setup after two years of lockdowns and restrictions.

Bañares said that with the education department discouraging students from dabbling too much in extracurricular activities, participating tribes were prompted to innovate and involve almost everyone in the community for the dancers, drummers, and support staff.

Community is indeed the main theme of the festival with all folks from the wider cross-section of the barangays pitching in – out-of-school youth, pedicab drivers, and vendors, among others.

This year’s festival will crescendo in three main events – the Kasadyahan Festival featuring festivals from other towns and provinces in Panay; the Dinagyang ILOmination which will feature tribe performances in a different light, literally and figuratively; and the Dagyang sa Barangay.

The ILOmination event will represent the seven districts of the city and will add fab and color to the annual parade of floats of various businesses and institutions in the city.

Dagyang sa Barangay promises to focus on dance rather than outsized props and costumes.

Bañares said some tribes were very innovative with their gears and props which were incorporated into the dances, not just as visual effects.

But he also reminded Ilonggos that the main reason for the festival is more than just the shindigs and revelries, but Señor Sto. Niño or the Holy Child Jesus.

“We should thank the Sto. Niño for helping us emerge from the darkness to the light. He is the reason for our being, our festival. Viva Señor Sto. Niño!”