RULES ARE RULES: ‘Controversy’ hangs over Dinagyang tribes competition results

Did the infamous Curse of the Crow spell doom for Tribu Silak? Dinagyang organizers said rules are rules. (Mariela Angella Oladive photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Disqualified or points deduction?

These were the unanswered questions posed by supporters of Tribu Silak after it failed to secure a spot among the top winners of the Ati-atihan tribes competition despite receiving three of the special awards.

Tribu Silak of the Iloilo City National High School bagged the Best in Choreography, Best in Performance, and People’s Choice Awards in the highly contested Ati-atihan tribes competition. But it did not bag the crown, nor any of the runner-up prizes.

But what is the truth to Tribu Silak’s non-inclusion in the roster of winners?

Eric Divinagracia, Dinagyang Festival artistic director, clarified that none of the participants in this year’s tribes’ competition was disqualified.

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, he explained that Tribu Silak saw their score reduced due to a violation related to props, particularly the “uwak” (crow) ensemble that reportedly exceeded the maximum size set for the competition.

Divinagracia said that based on their existing guidelines, all participating tribes are required to adhere to specific dimensions for their props, particularly a height limit of 12 feet and breadth or diameter of 10 feet.

He emphasized that the rule is designed to ensure the smooth movement of props during the competition, which has been thoroughly discussed with all participating tribes.

Since no tribes raised concerns or objections regarding the size limit before the competition, he stressed that it indicated that the rule was well understood and accepted.

“There was one tribe nga ang Tribu Silak na may ara sila prop nga nag go beyond the dimension prescribed. Upon inspection, ang infamous natun nga uwak, when spread ang iya nga wings, it’s 30 feet but we did not actually refer to that,” he said.

[There was one tribe, the Tribu Silak, that had a prop exceeding the prescribed dimensions. Upon inspection, the infamous ‘uwak,’ when its wings were spread, measured 30 feet, but we did not actually refer to that.]

Despite this, Divinigracia said the Iloilo Festivals Foundation Incorporated  (IFFI) gave the tribe a chance to clip the wings of the bird to reduce the size, but it still reached 13.8 feet in diameter when clipped.

He said the IFFI committee received images sent by an unidentified source concerning the ‘uwak’ props of Tribu Silak.

He added that the committee immediately called the attention of Tribu Silak after the alleged violation reached them and the props were measured in front of the tribe manager and choreographer of Tribu Silak.

“We also did our due diligence and our due process which meant that after we have found out that there was infarction, we immediately contacted the tribe in question,” he said.

According to Divinagracia, the established rule dictates that any violation incurs a significant penalty of 10 points for each judge in all four judging areas.

He clarified that the violation affected the overall score but did not impact the technical award.

On a positive note, he mentioned that if there were no deductions in the overall score, there is a significant possibility that Tribu Silak could still be the grand champion.

Tribu Pan-ay of Fort San Pedro National High School bested seven other contingents and was declared the championship title of the Ati-atihan tribes competition. It also bagged the Best in Music award.

The defending champion, Tribu Paghidaet of LaPaz National High School, gracefully settled as the first runner-up.

Tribu Pan-ay will represent the Dinagyang Festival in Aliwan Fiesta 2024.


Alpha Java, ICNHS principal, and manager of Tribu Silak, urged their supporters to accept the defeat graciously, emphasizing that setbacks are not the end of the world.

“As your humble principal, I am satisfied [with] everything that has happened. Super happy gid ko ya!,” she said in a heartfelt Facebook post.

She emphasized the importance of learning from the experience and moving forward with God’s love and protection.

Java also extended her gratitude to all sponsors and supporters, especially to Ramil Huyatid, the tribe’s choreographer.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, in a press conference on Monday morning, revealed that the choreographer of Tribu Silak personally reached out to convey their desire for a meeting with the mayor regarding the competition results.

According to the mayor, his office is open to listening to the sentiments and any expressions of disappointment from the tribe.

“Bisan sa mga Ilonggos nakita nila the performance, the props, the costumes and the choreography. Daw nag-level up na gid and unfortunately, [may deduction] abi ang Silak, gapangayo to gani nga makadto di sa akon kay daw kalain gid ang matyag niya,” he said.

“The Ilonggos witnessed the performance, the props, the costumes, and the choreography. We have leveled up significantly, and unfortunately, Tribu Silak incurred deductions. Their tribe choreographer requested to come to me because he is really hurt.]

Treñas stressed that there are rules to follow, and judges of the competition are respected and experienced individuals in their respective fields.

“There are rules, and we have judges, and indi man lang kung sin-o sin-o pero very qualified, very respected nga judges. We have to just accept it […] Sometimes they just need a shoulder to lean on, I will always just be there,” he said.

[There are rules, and we have judges, and it’s not just anyone, but very qualified, very respected judges. We have to just accept it […] Sometimes they just need a shoulder to lean on, I will always just be there.]

The city mayor said that the results of the competition are final, emphasizing that Iloilo Festivals Foundation Incorporated has no vested interest in favoring a particular group to win.

“Amo gid na. May ara gid nagadaog, may nagaka perdi […] Appreciation na yah sang mga judges. Ang ginabatayag ta nga kasakit, ihalad ta na lang na kay Señor Sto. Niño,” he added.

[That’s really it. There are winners, and there are those who will not win […] It’s up to the judges. Let us just offer the pain we feel to Senor Sto. Niño]