Journalism and Dinagyang

By Alex P. Vidal

“Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.”— David Binder

WE don’t understand why some national media networks continue to treat the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City with willful indifference.

There has been noticeably an appalling degree of bias from some of these national media networks when it comes to giving our stupendous festival due publicity and promotion that cut to the heart of objectivity, fairness, truth and balance reporting that these networks pride themselves to adhere to, promote and possess.

When some of them report about the celebrations in relation to the Feast of Senor Santo Nino in the month of January, they make it a habit of mentioning and giving credence only to the Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo.

In many instances, they always skip the Dinagyang Festival—or pretend it doesn’t exist? Pretender que algo no existe?

Dinagyang Festival doesn’t need these national media network’s Stentorian voices to be noticed actually. But fairness comes with obeying the rules of media reporting and it’s not an attitude but a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.

Sinulog was held on January 15; Ati-Atihan on January 17; and Dinagyang on January 20-22 (the highlights).

They have similarities in many aspects such as the presentation of costumes and choreography of the dancing warriors; and they all put premium heavily on the celebration’s religious and cultural significance.


The festivals in Cebu, Kalibo, and Iloilo are all considered as major events with their respective LGUs marshaling their resources and tapping private partners and media to rev up and further escalate the activities.

In the calendar of events for celebration of the feast of the child Jesus, it’s impossible to omit something that has become part of national consciousness, history and culture.

There are other mini festivals and similar celebrations in relation to the paying of homage or launching of public display of love and respect to the child Jesus in Catholic provinces, cities, and municipalities all over the archipelago, but the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, and Dinagyang have been known traditionally to be the biggest, most colorful, and widely extolled celebrations in the country frequented by devotees, local and international tourists, VIPs, prominent characters in showbiz and entertainment, culture and arts, tourism, and dignitaries from the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, UK, and Europe.

When we were writing full time in the community papers in Iloilo many years back, we saw to it that stories about the Dinagyang Festival were given priority in the front page or prominent spaces in the special editions leading to the two-day highlights that usually fell on Saturday and Sunday.


The week-long festivity was always awash with colorful and unique activities that promoted diversity, sports, entertainments, cultural programs participated by both the private and public schools, a beauty pageant, tourism-related events and the like.

We were aware what the readers wanted and needed. Politics and other mundane topics were relegated unless earthshaking and explosive.

Contemporary community journalists in Iloilo continue to sustain and improve the tradition; and they are more persuasive, methodical, and artistic in the age of social media.

Dinagyang Festival is our civic pride and honor; the Ilonggo community implicitly is in the radar of international audience and we are always proud to be aware of having so much to show off when it comes to our rich heritage, culture and history.

It’s our own way of helping tell the world how ecstatic and proud we are as Ilonggos to have the Dinagyang Festival, Catholics or non-Catholics, even if some national media networks think our festival belongs in the back page.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)