By Jay D. Balnig
The Traveljournal-CREAM Magazine
Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival, the most colorful and festive religious and cultural celebration in the Philippines has found its way to the United States, specifically in New York City.
This journey even started before Dinagyang Festival became a Grand Slam winner in the Aliwan Fiesta, a nationwide competition of all Philippine festivals by the Manila Broadcasting Company and considered as the Top Tourism Event by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines. Since then, the invitations kept coming.
Dinagyang in Rockefeller Center
Winners go to New York
As a result of this, whoever wins in the Dinagyang Festival for a particular year gets to perform in New York on the same year.
The first performance in New York was on June 3, 2011. The delegation was composed of Dinagyang Festival 2011 champion Tribu Pan-ay of the Fort San Pedro National High School, Dinagyang Foundation President Ramon Cua-Locsin, Assistant Choreographer George Susvilla and Iloilo City Tourism Officer Benito Jimena. They also performed in New Jersey and Washington DC.
It was made possible by Ms. Joji Juele-Jalandoni, president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDC) in cooperation with Consul General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate General Office-NY.
Jalandoni was supported by Ilonggos based on the East Coast such as Rene Palma, Shirly Cordova-Chacu, Robert Aguirre, Boy Dinzon, Paul Salas, Christine Lavilla-Bets, Agnes Jamora and other Ilonggo volunteers who went out of their way to give the delegates a warm accommodation.
On June 10, 2013, Dinagyang Festival once again performed in New York. This time, the delegation included 2013 festival winner Tribu Panayanon of the Iloilo National High School. The group was accompanied by school principal Dr. Blesilda Floro and choreographer Rommel Flogen. http://www.
The PIDC, Philippine Consulate General Office of New York and office of Ms. Mitchelle Dy, Philippine Tourism Officer for New York and Toronto made it possible.
On June 5, 2016, it was Dinagyang Festival 2016 champion Tribu Salognon’s turn to perform in New York. The delegation included Jaro National High School principal Dr. Belinda Dinopol, choreographer Paul Blas Pinuela and new Iloilo City Tourism Officer Ms. Junel Ann Divinagracia. ( Ilonggo unsung heroes of ‘Dinagyang Sa New York’ )
The abovementioned cities were not the only ones that witnessed the grandiose Dinagyang Festival. In fact, Tribu Bola-Bola of the Iloilo National High School headed by choreographer Edwin Duero performed in Texas, U.S.A.
The festival has also performed in Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, Japan, Portugal, Egypt and other parts of the world.
Dinagyang Festival started as a religious activity of the San Jose Parish Church in Iloilo City in 1970 under Rev. Fr. Ambrosio. The name “dinagyang” was coined by former broadcaster Pacifico Sudario.
During the festival’s early years, devotees of the Child Jesus would dance in front of the church hoping for miracles. Through the years, cultural activities such as tribe competitions and food festival, were added, thanks to the public-private partnership between the local government of Iloilo City, businesses and the religious sector.
The festival takes place in Iloilo City during the 4th Saturday and Sunday of January./JDB