By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
“Pauntata na anay. Panghaboy ko na karun. Abi kung may gahambal, waay danai may malakat.”
[Stop that, or I’ll toss it. When someone is speaking, listen.]
The unruly behavior of some revelers during the Dinagyang Festival did not escape the acerbic remarks of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas during the Ati-atihan tribes competition on Sunday morning, January 28.
Just before delivering his speech at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, the mayor reminded the spectators to refrain from moving back and forth and to listen attentively to the person that is speaking in front.
“Daw lango-lango ni ang gina ubra niyo. Aga pa, gapasaway kamo . When someone is talking here (in front), please do not disturb,” he continued.
[Your actions are disrespectful. It’s still early, yet you’re already making a scene. When someone is speaking here in front, please do not disturb.]
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is the first stage for the Ati-atihan tribes competition where dignitaries and very important persons (VIPs) invited by the city government witnessed the vibrant performances of the eight school-based Ati tribes.
Among the notable personalities present at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand were Senators Risa Hontiveros, Bong Go, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid; House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar; former senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan, and Atty. Chel Diokno.
After the incident that seemingly shocked the audience, Treñas proceeded to emphasize that the Dinagyang Festival has come a long way.
“It gets better and better every year, with more and more people coming to Iloilo City just to witness this grand festivity,” he said.
According to the Site Task Group Dinagyang 2024, there were at least 32,100 spectators who watched the tribes competition in four judging areas in the city’s downtown area.
Competing in the Dinagyang tribes competition were Tribu Taga-Baryo (Bo. Obrero National High School), Tribu Mandu-riyaw (Mandurriao NHS), Tribu Paghidaet (La Paz NHS), Tribu Pan-ay (Fort San Pedro NHS), Tribu Salognon (Jaro NHS), Tribu Sigabong (Ramon Avanceña NHS), Tribu Ilonganon (Jalandoni Memorial NHS), and Tribu Silak (Iloilo City NHS).
The grand winner of the tribes competition will receive a total of P25 million worth of school projects, with P15 million coming from the city government of Iloilo and the remaining P10 million from the Uswag Ilonggo partylist.
Meanwhile, each participating school will also receive P5 million worth of projects.
“We take pride in being the country’s best tourism festival. The accolades we have received are a testament to our dedication, passion, and love for culture and tradition, coupled with our strong devotion to the Child Jesus,” Treñas added.
The Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, Inc. (ATOP) Pearl Awards recognized the 2022 edition of the Dinagyang Festival as the Best Cultural Festival Award in the city category.
In 2021, ATOP also awarded the festival’s first online version as Best Tourism Practice during the Pandemic Special Category, while in 2020 as the grand champion in the Best Tourism Event (Festival) As Contemporary/Non-Traditional Expression category.