The Dinagyang Festival is both a cultural and religious festival. It is held in Iloilo City on January every year on the 4th Sunday. Sometimes it is celebrated right after the Sinulog ends in Cebu. The Dinagyang Festival is a tribute to Santo Nino and the Malay settlers’ arrival in Panay.
The Festival in November of 1967. That year, Reverend Ambrosio Galindez led the introduction to the people of the Santo Nino devotion. In the following year, Father Enderez brought a replica of the Santo Nino in Cebu to Iloilo and gave it to the Parish of San Jose as a gift. The faithful Catholics as an honor to Santo Nino received the image from the local Airport and paraded it on the streets. When the Marcos regime announced its order on all the regions of the Philippines to create festivals in order to improve the country’s tourism in 1977, Iloilo city was already ready to provide with its own Iloilo Ati-atihan.
The Dinagyang Festival is a festival divided into different events. The first event focuses on the Ati-Ati Street Dance where participants dance in groups. The second event is the Kasadyahan Street dancing and finally, the last event is the choosing of the Miss Dinagyang.
In present times, most of the parts of the festival is consisted by numerous tribes who are called “tribus”. Originally the dancers were people belonging to Ati tribes. But today, no real Ati joins the event nor do they benefit from it. The dancing in the festivals requires some rules to be followed. Performers who join should have their skins painted brown. Aside from that they are only allowed to use materials which comes from indigenous materials for their costumes. The dancing also should be performed with music which uses drums only as its instrument. Because of the efforts of the participants and performers, from 2006 up to 2008 the Dinagyang Festival made it as the top Event for Tourism. Also, it has a record of being the first ever festival in the world to be supported by United Nations.
The Dinagyang Festival has introduced innovations through years of its celebration. These are innovations which through the years also influenced some of the festivals in the Philippines. The Carousel Performance was initiated by the said festival which is simultaneously performed by the tribes in competition. The Mobile Risers was first introduced in 1994 by the Bola-bola tribu. It is a prominent choreography in the Dinagyang festival which has become popular in other festivals too. The Dinagyang Pipes innovation are pipes which are beaten with rubber paddles. The pipes all produce sounds which depends on its size and length. Finally, the Dagoy mascot which is also the first mascot created for festivals in the Philippines was produced from the Dinagyang festival. The image of Dagoy was first taken from a sketch competition in Dinagyang on 2002. Later on, it became official as the logo of the Dinagyang. The caricature portrays a young warrior whose character symbolizes the friendship of the natives and tourists who gather together to celebrate the festival.