Iloilo is not just Dinagyang

Photos by Al Destacamento

Iloilo has more to offer than Dinagyang to make your hearts beat bigtime.

A province of 42 towns and a component city, Iloilo is a whole spread of experiential buffet.

Here are some festivals captured by DG contributing photographer Al Destacamento.

BAYLUHAY FESTIVAL: Celebrated in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo, the Bayluhay Festival commemorates the arrival of the ten Bornean Datus in Panay Island. This historical event symbolizes the barter of the island from the Ati King Marikudo. The festival typically includes a reenactment of this barter, showcasing a rich display of culture and history. Participants dress in traditional Ati and Malay attire, and the event is filled with street dancing, theatrical performances, and vibrant music. It’s a lively celebration of the town’s ancestry and a tribute to the peaceful coexistence of different cultures.

PASUNGAY FESTIVAL: Held in San Joaquin as well, Pasungay is a traditional bullfighting festival. Unlike Spanish bullfighting, Pasungay is less about the fight to the death and more about showcasing the strength and endurance of the bulls. Local farmers bring their best and strongest bulls to compete in a friendly, non-lethal tussle. This festival, rooted in agricultural tradition, is a testament to the importance of livestock in the local community. The event is typically filled with a festive atmosphere, including parades, local games, and various cultural performances, highlighting the rural life and customs of the Iloilo people.

SAAD FESTIVAL: This festival is celebrated in the town of Leganes, Iloilo, and is relatively newer compared to the other two. Saad, which means ‘promise’ in the local dialect, is a celebration of thanksgiving and renewal. It is held to honor the town’s patron saint, St. Vincent Ferrer, and to celebrate the promise of bountiful harvests, good health, and prosperity. The festival features colorful parades, street dancing, and various competitions, showcasing the creativity and unity of the local community. Traditional costumes, lively music, and choreographed dances are central to the festivities, making it a vibrant display of local culture and traditions.

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