Pandemic fails to dampen Dinagyang 2022 kick-off

(Photo from Iloilo Dinagyang FB page)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Not even the continuing threat and current surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can stop Iloilo City from celebrating the annual Dinagyang Festival, as its 54th edition kicked off Friday, Jan 14, 2022.

The festival formally unraveled in a ceremonial drum beat led by Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Julienne Baronda, City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) president Ronald Sebastian, and the festival’s chairperson, IFFI Board Member Joemarie Layson.

Prior to the formal kick-off, the highlights of the 2021 Dinagyang Digital and presentation by members of the participating tribes in the 2022 Dinagyang Festival Tribal Dance Competition were shown via live stream.

Present were members of Tribu Pagsinadya (Celebration) of Arevalo district, Paghigugma (Love) of City Proper, Pagtilipon (Gathering) from Jaro, Paghirupay (Closeness) of La Paz, Pag-intindihanay (Understanding) of Lapuz, Pagpahanggud (Growth, Development) of Mandurriao, and Pag-amliganay (Nurturing) of Molo.

These tribes were named after the seven “core values” which festival organizers believe embody Ilonggo values and culture, paired with the devotion to the festival’s patron, the Sto. Niño de Cebu.

The ceremonial drumbeat was followed by other drum performances from barangay-based tribes, including Tribu Molave from Arevalo, Hamili from City Proper, Kanyao from Jaro, Panaad from La Paz, Aninipay from Lapuz, Sagrada from Mandurriao, and Pari-anon from Molo.

In his opening remarks, Sebastian said that not even the pandemic can stop the city and province from celebrating the festival.

“We’ve enjoyed celebrating Dinagyang with family and friends, enjoying our vast cuisine here, but since the pandemic, that just faded. But that did not stop us in our devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño. That is the reason why even last year, we still had our Iloilo Dinagyang [celebration],” Sebastian said.

City officials also gave their messages of support for the 2022 edition of the festival.

In her recorded message, Baronda shared her hope that the devotion of the Ilonggo people to the Señor Sto. Niño, coupled with efforts and cooperation, would help the city rise above any hurdle.

“We express our devotion, hope, and faith, to Señor Sto. Niño during [this] Dinagyang Festival. Through our strong efforts and cooperation, we will rise through any challenge,” she said in her recorded remarks.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said that he was “happy” that the city was still able to celebrate the Dinagyang Festival amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

“I am happy that even with our high number of [COVID-19] cases, we continue to celebrate the Dinagyang Festival, [which] has shown to be a manifestation of the unity and the strength of the Ilonggo people,” the mayor said.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. called the festival an “opportunity” to be thankful and to continue to be devoted to the Child Jesus amid the continuing global health crisis.

“Dinagyang Festival is not just about fun and revelry, but a testament of our devotion to the Child Jesus. Despite the many challenges, we still have to be thankful that we are given the chance to celebrate our devotion to Señor Sto. Niño,” Defensor said in his recorded message.

The 2021 Dinagyang Festival was a hit on social media, with the One Dinagyang Tribes Digital Presentation amassing 566,600 views on Facebook. Its side events also garnered a range of 51,000 to 126,000 views on social media.

The 53rd edition of the festival was also cited by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines with the Pearl Award for Best Tourism Practice During the Pandemic during their national convention last December 12, 2021 in Manila.

This 2022 Dinagyang Festival is organized by the Iloilo City Government, the IFFI, and the San Jose Parish Placer, with support from the Iloilo Provincial Government and the Department of Tourism-Region 6.

Daily Guardian is one of the media partners of the 2022 Dinagyang Festival.