Starting the New Year right cannot be better illustrated than the Dinagyang Festival celebrated in Iloilo City. This fiesta is observed every fourth weekend in the month of January, to commemorate the Christianization of the Philippines. A month long festivity that showcases the rich culture, which the people of Iloilo are quite proud of, Dinagyang is marked by dancing in the streets, partaking of sumptuous local foods and other fun-filled activities.
The first time Dinagyang was observed was in 1968, when the City welcomed into its parish a replica of the Senor Sto. Nino image from Cebu. The image has found its new home in the San Jose Parish Church where visitors can view it up to now. The name Dinagyang traces its root to the word “dagyang” in Hiligaynon. The meaning of term is “to make merry or merry-making” and this is exactly what describes this Festival, full of merriment and thanksgiving.
The parade of dancers in different colorful costumes and bearing props sways to the music of pulsating drums, which is one of the popular attractions of this festival. This number is definitely a crowd drawer and the music infectious to the ears. There are claims that the “Hala Bira” sound is a fine combination of Latin and Brazilian music. Nonetheless, the Dinagyang beat and dance moves are distinctively very Filipino.