Redefine, reinvent, and reinvigorate

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Iloilo City government and the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) are trying to redefine, reinvent, and reinvigorate the Dinagyang Festival. The effort started with the oath-taking of IFFI officials on Sept 16, 2019.

The IFFI will handle the festival, taking over from the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival Foundation Inc. (IDFI) whose previous officials had a falling out with Mayor Jerry Treñas over politics.

One of the innovations that are most likely to be adopted by IFFI is the 360-degree view of the performances at the new Freedom Grandstand along the Iloilo River. One way of doing this is to provide barges or ships where spectators can board and watch the tribes dance.

The Ati-ati tribes will now have to redesign their dance sequences to accommodate the new venue setup. We can already imagine how they will adapt to this modification and maybe it will become a new signature of Dinagyang which is reputed to be the most copied of festivals.

The new organizers will also introduce the Sadsad or street-dancing component to add an experiential aspect to the festival. Spectators will not just be passive watchers of the dances as they can also join the merrymaking a la Ati-atihan of Aklan.

A consequence to the changes to Dinagyang is the separation of the Kasadyahan Festival which has always played second fiddle to the best tourism event in the country.

The Kasadyahan regional festival has been showcasing cultural performances of schools and other local government units but it was not enough to get out of Dinagyang’s shadow. The plan is to hold the festival at a separate date to boost the tourism calendar of the city.

The organizers will also cut the performance areas from five to three to avoid long and tiresome performances for the dancers. As to what performance areas will be eliminated will be announced soon.

These efforts are off to a good start as we can see old and new suggestions being incorporated in the event. Culture advocate Berniemack Arellano has been pushing for the sadsad element as it will give the public, especially those who cannot afford the tickets, to experience the festival first hand. That’s the very idea behind Dinagyang anyway, community participation.

We do expect some issues that the organizers will have to tackle like the “ownership” of the brand Dinagyang and its collaterals. I believe that the IDFI has already “copyrighted” the Dinagyang brand years ago. But hopefully, it will not lead to the monkey wrench ending up in the festival’s well-oiled gears.

Here are some of the upcoming events for Dinagyang Festival 2020:

  • January 18-25, 2020
    • Iloilo Arts Festival 2020
  • January 20, 2020
    • Miss Iloilo Dinagyang 2020
  • January 23-26, 2020
    • Ilonggo Food Festival
  • January 25, 2020 – 8 AM
    • Dinagyang sa Calle Real
  • January 25, 2020 – 2 PM
    • Sponsors Mardi Gras
  • January 25, 2020 – 7 PM
    • Religious Sadsad
  • January 26, 2020 – 8 AM
    • Dinagyang 360 degrees


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