ILOILO CITY – Threats posed by the pandemic have failed to dampen the Ilonggo spirit as the opening of the annual Iloilo Dinagyang Festival honoring the Holy Child Jesus pushed through on Friday night.
To adjust to the new normal, the Iloilo City government, the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI), and the San Jose Parish Placer held the “Pamukaw sa Virtual Opening Salvo” with a virtual presentation of documentaries of past festivals.
Instead of the usual street performances, selected warriors roamed the city’s major thoroughfares aboard a city vehicle, awakening the public with thunderous drumbeats.
In his message during the short opening ceremony, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas thanked the IFFI, led by its president Jobert Peñaflorida and chairman Judgee Peña, for “coming up with an effective plan to celebrate (the) Dinagyang Festival without sacrificing our safety.”
“With that, we can become role models to other cities and provinces for safe festivities. And I would like you to understand that it is only Iloilo City, which is celebrating its festival as of this time,” Treñas said.
He noted that while the celebration could be different from the “usual festive and rowdy streets of Iloilo,” one thing has remained the same – “our strong faith in the Lord Almighty.”
Treñas said it reflects the continuous faith and devotion of Ilonggos to Señor Santo Niño.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said the province has been successful in its fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) that Ilonggos could still do whatever they want to do.
“One best example is the Dinagyang. Can you imagine a city having this festival in the middle of a pandemic and succeeding in both?” Defensor said.
After the opening salvo, the organizers will hold the festival’s major events, mindful of the health protocols that need to be observed.
These include the mural contest along Atria in Mandurriao district on January 17; the Dinagyang Market, Market on January 18; the Dinagyang procession/motorcade of Señor Sto. Niño on January 22; the Digital Dagyang sa Calle Real at 9 a.m. on January 23; the virtual religious sadsad at 7 p.m. on January 23; and on January 24, the virtual Dinagyang mass at 7 a.m. to be followed by the Dinagyang digital edition at 9 a.m., with Miss Philippines Universe Rabiya Mateo as one of the hosts.
The virtual events of the festival can be viewed on Facebook and other social media platforms: Iloilo Dinagyang | Jerry Treñas | Iloilo City Government, YouTube: iloilofestivals, FB: Iloilo Dinagyang, IG: @IloiloDinagyang2021, and Twitter: @dinagyang2021.
Media entities in Iloilo have also collaborated in airing the virtual presentation on their respective social media platforms.
The virtual opening salvo lasted for more than two hours after a short opening program held at the Iloilo City Hall and attended by selected individuals and organizers. (PNA)