by Clee Albores-Villasor
If Brazil is to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the Philippines is to Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. The artistic choreography has been noted by no less than the National Commission for the Culture and Arts (NCCA) as “the festival of excellent folk choreography.” The props, designs, and costumes – at Dinagyang Festival – dominate the Philippine Festivals with the Ilonggo’s rich Philippine folklore and cultural heritage. Dinagyang showcases the spectacular, tribal Ati-atihan's (Philippine natives re-enactment) triumphant journey of Atis’ faith conversion from animism to Roman Catholicism.
The Atis have high respect for nature. And their love for mankind is a unifying example of nature-loving and nature-protecting peoples of the Philippines. Participating dancers dress up as Ati warriors. They show off with the pompous street parade of colors in their exuberant costumes and theatrical expressions. Dinagyang, in the local vernacular means,“merry-making,” “revelry,” or “to be happy.”
Dinagyang is a religious-cultural festival that has become the basis of the country's "culture of excellence," even as it reap awards after another, as the best festival in the country today. Dinagyang Festival takes place in Iloilo City, nicknamed “City of Love,” on the 4th Sunday of January in honor to the patron image of Sto. Niño.
DINAGYANG FESTIVAL is still the undefeated Philippine festival through the years. Critically-acclaimed Dinagyang is the BEST TOURISM EVENT by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines and is,notably, the first festival in the world to gain the support of the United Nations, for the promotion of the Millenium Development Goals(MDGs).
Dinagyang Festival is already 44-years old.