Last but not least

By Alex P. Vidal

“Festivals are happy places, and you don’t really want to enjoy them on your own.”—Christine and the Queens

BECAUSE it is held in the fourth weekend of the month of January each year, Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival (January 27-28 major events) is considered as the last—but not least—festival in relation to the celebration of the holy child Jesus, Senior Santo Niño, in the country’s Christian community.

But if the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo and the Sinulog Festival in Cebu are considered to be the Wimbledon Open and US Open respectively, Dinagyang Festival is both the French Open and Australian Open because of the two major and dazzling highlights—the cultural presentation on Saturday and ati dance competition on Sunday.

When everyone else is tired and weary after rounding up all the other festivals with the same characteristics and cultural value in the month of January, Dinagyang Festival towers above the totem pole for tourists, marketing strategists, pilgrims, politicians, and media.

The two popular Visayan festivals in Kalibo and Cebu are unique with each other: Kalibo’s Ati-atihan highlights the ritual of the native dance while Cebu’s Sinulog focuses on the dance’s historical aspects.

The Dinagyang Festival has been known to be a dyed-in-the-wool cultural and religious celebration.

Although Dinagyang has its roots in the Ati-atihan festival that represents the Ilonggos’ link in our Christian faith, the Iloilo celebration also specifically pays tribute to the arrival of the Malay settlers in the country, including the notable barter of Panay Island from natives called Ati.

In terms of marketing, global impact, and number of activities lined up during the week-long celebration, Dinagyang Festival is considered to be the largest event held in honor of Senior Santo Niño.


There should be no need for a religious or spiritual activity or celebration anywhere in the Philippine or around the globe to constantly remind us that we must love one another, respect each other, don’t gossip and foment intrigues, stop judging others, don’t envy, stop the irrational jealousy, be happy, and always make it a habit to pray.

With or without the religious festivals and religion’s valuable reminders, we are supposed to know what is right and wrong; what is evil and good.

If we are compelled to only practice these Christian virtues because of the homilies from religious leaders and the temporary euphoria brought by the religious festivals.

We become hypocrites after several weeks and months and back again to our moral and spiritual aberrations.

If we are spiritually and morally strong, we will always choose the right path and eschew wickedness even if Lucifer will be the one to lead and organize the bacchanalia. God bless us all.


THE administrations of all the five previous Philippine presidents—Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, Rodrigo Duterte—have failed in their malice-ridden bids to tamper with the Philippine Constitution.

The sixth administration, under Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is bound to fail, at least according to the recent developments in the fresh move for people’s initiative for Charter change (Chacha) now that the senate has made its voice heard loudly.

Many Filipinos may be suckers to populist presidents and their antics, but majority of them still value the sacredness of the fundamental law of the land and they have been proven to be assertive and allergic to any attempt to amend, rearrange, distort, and “improve” it however strong is the justification put forward by prime movers in the Lower House.

We agree with former Comelec chair and constitutional expert Christian Monsod who said that in some of the attempts, “people saw selfish motives like a proposal to grant authoritarian powers to the president, sync the Bill of Rights with the Anti-Terrorism Act and allow elected officials to stay in power for as long as they want.”

The 1987 Constitution limits the president and vice president to a single six-year, non-renewable term.

After Marcos Sr., Arroyo was the longest serving president, staying in power for nine years but this was not the result of Chacha, but a Supreme Court ruling that allowed her to run for a regular six-year term as president after serving three years as replacement of Estrada following his ouster for massive corruption.


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE WORLD OF TECHNOLOGY? More than 13,000 tech employees have been laid off so far this year, data shows, as the industry doubles down on investments in artificial intelligence, according to CNN.

On January 23, eBay’s CEO Jamie Iannone announced the company is cutting 1,000 positions, or about 9 percent of its full-time employees, citing the “challenging macroeconomic environment.” Meanwhile, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has warned employees to expect additional layoffs in the months to come as the tech giant reorients itself toward AI “and beyond.” Duolingo laid off around 10 percent of its contract workers as it moves toward a heavier reliance on artificial intelligence tools. Amazon has also cut hundreds of jobs this year, including at the game streaming platform Twitch.

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