Wake Up, Philippines!

Getting high on Dinagyang

Posted in Celebrations, DOT, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

Photo is loading...

Iloilo City With its slogan On Higher Ground, this year’s Dinagyang Festival ended on a happy note. Local and foreign tourists who flocked to this western part of the Visayas are still “feeling high” from the various activities held in celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño. Ilonggos, too, enjoyed the fanfare including GMA’s free show dubbed as Dinagyang Kapuso Night that drew an enormous crowd at the Freedom Grandstand.

Local artists like Pinoy Idol finalist and true-blue Ilongga Sue Ellen, Istayl Naton! hosts Angelia Ong, John Arceo, Mamo Monyika and Dino Vasquez entertained the crowd with song numbers and antics that added glee to the night.

Back stage, Sue Ellen relates that she has now fully recovered from the heavy blow that struck her and her family. She considers the flood waters and fire incidents — that left them homeless months ago — as part of “those trying times.”

“Since the lot is not originally ours, we decided to rent an apartment instead,” says Sue, who returned to Iloilo and continues her studies at Central Philippine University taking up Education after her Pinoy Idol stint.

“Life is much easier here but I still perform in Manila once in a while. I did a show with Ogie Alcasid (and Ramiele Malubay) last month,” she continues. “And of course, I sing on occasion like this as a Kapuso. But more often, I sing here with the church ministry. I really enjoy singing.” So does the crowd who applauded her energetic number Please Don’t Stop the Music.

Various games made every Kapuso’s spirit soar high. And as the night grew livelier, rain started to fall heavily, yet it was not enough to spoil the evening fun and excitement.

All — young and old — stood still, seemingly unmindful of any health problem the rain may bring. They shrieked in excitement, stomped their feet with joy and clapped their hands the hardest when Luna Mystika stars Heart Evangelista and Mark Anthony Fernandez appeared and performed one after the other on the makeshift wooden stage.

“This happens rarely (to see celebrities in person) so we might as well enjoy the moment even if it’s raining,” an Ilonggo fan says.

Mark, while singing Nandito Ako under a wide umbrella, gave away shirts to the jampacked crowd.

Ayos ba kayo diyan?,” he asked with concern. The audience, in turn, responded with delight.

It was Mark’s third time to join Dinagyang. This time, Mark thanked everyone for the warm welcome and invited the audience to continue supporting Kapuso shows especially Luna Mystika where he plays Dexter, the love interest of Heart’s Celestina.

Heart, on the other hand, was touched to see Ilonggos soaking wet all throughout the show. She greeted them pleasantly and belted out a song accompanied by a band. The heavy downpour also didn’t stop her from going up on stage even if she has just recovered from sickness. Heart, too, at one point, tried to keep the umbrella away to interact well with the crowd but failed because she might be electrocuted from the microphone she was holding.

“I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for all the support and please don’t fail to watch Luna Mystika,” Heart says.

As the Kapuso Night ended, happiness vividly reflected on everybody’s faces. The Ilonggos’ warm welcome, in turn, conveyed a feeling as intense as the pounding of the drums we often hear come Dinagyang time.

View previous articles from this author.

By Bot Glorioso
Updated January 30, 2009 12:00 AM

Dinagyang: A dance offering

Posted in Celebrations, Feast/Solemnities, Tourism by Erineus on February 16, 2009

Photo is loading...

Tribo Molave exhibits their heartfelt devotion to Señor Sto. Niño as they perform before a crowd of thousands.

For Ilonggos participating in the annual Dinagyang Festival, it’s not just another day of street dancing. The long-held tradition is an opportunity to show their devotion.

The economic pinch nearly prevented many tribes from taking part in the festivities this year. But they could not just abandon what their fathers and grandfathers had been doing for decades.

This year, Smart Communications Inc. helped three tribes to continue the tradition. The leading wireless services company sponsored the Atub-Atub, Molave, and Pana-ad, the leading groups in last year’s festival.

Smart also sponsored the Kasadyahan Festival and the staging of concerts like the Kapamilya Caravan at the Freedom Grandstand and Rock ‘Til u Drop at the Boardwalk Leisure Area.

“It’s hard to finance a group of street dancers for Dinagyang, especially in these tough times,” says Jaimer Canlas, operation manager of Tribo Molave. 

Finding the time to rehearse alone can be quite challenging, as each member has to eke out a living. Most members are out-of-school youth, tricycle drivers, pier porters, and blue-collar workers.

They persevere, however, because being in the tribe is not only an outlet for creative expression but also an opportunity to spend time in prayer and devotion.

This year, their dance is also a form of thanksgiving, as the province of Iloilo has recovered from the devastation caused by typhoon “Frank” in July last year. The Ilonggos are smiling once again, the streets full of gaiety and hope.

This year’s performances reflect the Filipino’s indomitable spirit, says Joaquin Santiago Jr., operation manager of Tribo Atub-Atub. Their theme is “helping each other after the disaster of the storm.” The idea is to show how Ilonggos move on from kalisod (sadness) to kalipay (happiness).

Tribo Molave worked around the theme of harvest. “After the storm, the land yields the harvest for the people; in our performance’s case, the ati,” Canlas says.

Consistent winners, the three tribes nonetheless remain true to the real meaning of their dance offering.

“This year, we focused on our devotion, not on the competition, so win or lose, we are happy just expressing our gratitude to Señor Sto. Niño,” Santiago says. Tribo Atub-Atub took home a special award, Best in Discipline.

And it’s no competition, really. The tribe members are friends, with the same purpose — to keep their heritage and culture alive. It is this that makes their street dancing truly meaningful.

Updated February 08, 2009 12:00 AM