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Dinagyang Festival
Iloilo City, January

The Dinagyang festival is the annual socio-cultural-religious festival of Iloilo City usually celebrated in January. Dinagyang is characterized by frenetic stomping of feet and hypnotic drumbeating. The Dinagyang festival is a cavalcade feast in honor of the Holy Child Jesus amidst the cracking drumbeats. This is Iloilo's version of the world famous Ati-atihan Festival.

Iloilo City's Dinagyang festival had its roots in 1968 when a replica of the image of the Santo Niño from Cebu City was bought to the San Jose Parish church. The Santo Niño was enshrined in the church and since then a novena in His honor is held every Friday.

The first parish feast of Señor Santo Niño was celebrated in 1969, a year after His arrival in Iloilo City. The culmination of the nine-day novena was the fluvial procession. The festival was casually called "Iloilo Ati-Atihan" to differentiate it from the Ati-atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan.

Through the years the Dinagyang festival is a period of thanksgiving and offering for all the blessings received. Naturally it has developed into fun and laughter for the Ilonggos.

Dinagyang is a Hiligaynon word extrapolated from dagyang meaning "merrymaking" It celebrates the pact between the Datus and the locals. Merry mayhem breaks loose in Iloilo City during this Dinagyang festival, when Ilonggos leave everything behind to join in the Dinagyang festival. Today is is celebrated as Hala Bira Dinagyang festival.

Dinagyang festival attracts thousands of people dressed in unique costumes doing street dancing and chanting all day and night. This time of year everybody changes their everyday clothes for "Ati" warrior costumes and black body paint.

Shields and "weapons" sway to the pounding rhythm of drums. With the dance steps, celebrating Ilonggos move their feet forward in celebration of Dinagyang festival!

Dinagyang was coined by an old-time Ilonggo writer and radio broadcaster, the late Pacifico Sumagpao Sudario, who first used the word to name the festival when it was launched in 1977.

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