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PIA Press Release

Student writers say Dinagyang Festival a unifying event

By Elsa S. Subong, PIA-Iloilo

Iloilo City (10 January) -- “The Dinagyang Festival is a unifying event that involves people in a singular effort to show the rest of the country how unique and exciting is the Ilonggo culture,” most student writers said of the Dinagyang Festival during the 2004 College Press Conference wherein Mr.Ben Jimena of the Dinagyang Foundation served as guest.

Mark Daroy of the Aklan State University observed that Dinagayang is not solely for a sector or two but for all as this serves as a unifying element that showcases cooperation in many forms.

Eric James Sotomil of the Ledger, a publication of the University of San Agustin College of Commerce and Accountancy, noted that Dinagyang unites people, particularly the Ilonggos, even just for a season.

“This is far more important, when people show unity triggered by a festival which speaks of their dreams and sentiments, of their lives as a whole”, says Sotomil. He added that every Ilonggo is challenged to live and tell the tale of the festival to the generations to come.

Many of them believe that religion is and must be a strong force behind the Dinagyang Festival. Religion defines what the celebration should be, which is actually a thanksgiving for the blessings God has bestowed on the people.

They also said that the people’s deep devotion to the Sto. Nino is a real cause of the celebration. The Sto Nino, according to most of the writers, is the essence and dignity of the festival amidst the fast-paced era of post modernization and globalization.

The student writers also recognized that the festival’s mascot Dagoy becomes a meaningful symbol of culture when the Dinagyang is able to blend the beauty of the past and the Ilonggos present vision of the future.

Samuel Delfin again of the Ledger, of the University of San Agustin, stays put on the general observation that Dinagyang is really a “fabulous festival of culture and commerce, religious and civic affairs”.

He further observed that true to its being dubbed as “escellent folk choreography” and the best in the country as far as street dancing is concerned, Dinagyang has an unexplainable charism that stuns even the Ilonggos themselves. The non-Illonggos, once captivated, are not able to resist.

On the other hand, some student writers noted that there are still issues that the Iloilo dinagyang Foundation should look into as they manage the celebration.

One writer quipped that the Dinagyang organizers may have become so engrossed at times with the economic gains the festival will have but have forgotten the deeper meaning of what they are doing.

Others further observed that the festival seems contented to be just a “copy cat” of the Kalibo Ati-Atihan, although as they quoted Mr. Ben Jimena,Executive Director of the Festival, “a better copy cat”.

Some said the festival need not be a copy cat if the organizers work harder to involve more cultural and anthropological workers to revive the Ilonggos’ folk religion, written and oral literature of which Panay has very rich heritage,

While there are still concerns to be tackled, the student writers from Western Visayas believe that nothing can prevent the Ilonggos from celebrating Dinagyang, with its focus on religion, tourism and development. They believe that the Ilonggos draw strength from the remembrance of the past, from remembering that they have been blessed, protected and provided for by God. (PIA) [top]

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