By Francis Allan Angelo
Tribu Paghidaet’s name pertains to peace or harmony.
But for LaPaz National High School (LPNHS) in Iloilo City, Paghidaet is their battle cry to continue their dominance of the Dinagyang Festival 2024.
Paghidaet was the last school-based champion of the Dinagyang 360 Tribes Competition in 2020 before the world screeched to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paghidaet virtually swept special and minor awards – Best in Discipline, Best in Production Design, People’s Choice Award, Best in Music, Best in Choreography, and Best in Performance – a feat that took 10 years in the making.
In 2024, Noel Tubongbanua, LPNHS assistant principal and assistant tribe manager of Paghidaet, said they intend to win back the crown both for pride and the prize.
“We had no plans of going back because of issues about resources and many more concerns. But the support of the City government, the LPNHS, and LaPaz community convinced us to do another run in the festival,” Tubongbanua told Daily Guardian.
Paghidaet first joined Dinagyang in 1999 and was the festival’s grand slam champion from 2008 to 2010. It regained the crown in 2013 and in 2020.
The tribe was seen as the natural heir of the famed Tribu Bola-Bola of Iloilo National High School under the leadership of the late Riza Amaguin.
Paghidaet was also the training ground of famed choreographers, dancers, and costume designers like Steven Jakosalem who is now the tribe’s choreographer.
Today, Paghidaet alumni are major forces in festivals and performance arts, a legacy that LPNHS is very proud of.
Dinagyang tribe performances are based on storylines that capture Ilonggo faith and culture but at the same time let our imaginations fly around.
Paghidaet’s 2020 performance delved into the healing rituals and practices of indigenous Ati culture, and how this pagan faith from folk medicine developed and became united with the Catholic faith.
The tribe also featured the urunungon, an offertory to the spirits, (after a healing ritual has been done) that must be hung in a specified location by the shaman and must not be touched by anyone. The negative energy will transfer to those who will touch it.
This year, Tubongbanua said their story is about the nomadic nature of the Atis who travel from one area to another to look for better lives, all fueled by their faith in their selves and in the Divine Providence.
“From the highlands to the coastline, the story is all about hope and faith,” he added.
Costumes bring not just color and pageantry but are symbols of the tribes themselves.
Tubongbanua said they are sprucing up their motif with purple and tangerine apart from the usual gold and red colors of Paghidaet.
“Purple is for royalty. But the richness does not refer to the material world but the majesty of the Sto. Niño and the creator. We want to give back by putting them front and center of our performance,” he added.
There used to be a time when Dinagyang music emanated from Latin percussions or the usual drums.
The sound evolved as some tribes experimented with pipes, tires, bamboo, and many more.
This year, Paghidaet ups the ante by using steel tanks, ordinary plastic containers, and even tins not just for percussion effects but even natural elements like air and water.
Since it’s a best-kept secret of the tribe, we are holding the details to give spectators the chance to experience the sound effects on January 28.
Tubongbanua said they are thankful for the support of the LPNHS family and their alumni even if they only decided late last year to join the festival.
They know that Ilonggos are their toughest customers, not first-time spectators or tourists who will stay for a day or two for the festival. This is their motivation in coming up with a performance that every Ilonggo will talk about for days.
“Our dancers and drummers are all alumni and LPNHS teachers comprise the support staff. We are happy with the sense of community here, even if we don’t have big sponsors. But we feel that 2024 is our year,” he added.