About Dinagyang Festival

Dinagyang is Iloilo City’s version of the Ati-Atihan festival widely celebrated not only in Panay Island but also in other parts of the country. It may not be as ancient as the one in Kalibo in Aklan Province, but is definitely impressive in choreography and striking in terms of the various attires worn by participating tribes which reflect the ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry of the Ilonggos.

An Ilonggo term for revelry or merrymaking, Dinagyang was coined in 1977 by Ilonggo writer/broadcaster Pacifico Sudario to describe the riotous celebration. Prior to this, Dinagyang was labeled “Iloilo Ati-Atihan” to differentiate it from other Ati-Atihan festivals.

Iloilo Ati-Atihan dates back to the year 1967 when a replica of the image of Señor Santo Niño was first brought from Cebu by the San Jose Parish in Iloilo City. The image, accompanied by devotees from Cebu, was enthusiastically received at the Mandurriao Airport by the people of Iloilo.


Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development. The City of Iloilo readily identified the Iloilo Ati-atihan as its project. At the same time the local parish could no longer handle the growing challenges of the festival.

The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of "tribes", called "tribus", who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. It should be noted that no actual Ati are involved nor do they benefit in any way from this event. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor are they involved in the festival in any other way.

Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals, and cited by the Asian Development Bank as Best Practice on government, private sector & NGO cooperatives.
Dinagyang Legacy

Dinagyang festival has brought a lot of innovations throughout the years. These innovations has influenced the way other festivals in the country is run. Among these are the following:

Carousel Performance - Dinagyang initiated the simultaneous performance of the competing tribes in different judging areas.
Mobile Risers - Mobile risers is prominent feature of Dinagyang choreography today. It was introduced by Tribu Bola-bola in 1994. The risers has added depth and has improved the choreography of the dance movements.
Dinagyang Pipes - First used by Tribu Ilonganon in 2005, the Dinagyang pipes is made of PVC pipes and is hammered by rubber paddles. Each pipe produces a distinct sound depending on the length and diameter of each pipe.
Dagoy - The first festival mascot in the Philippines..


Dagoy is the official festival mascot of Dinagyang. He was born from the promotional sketches Of Dinagyang in 2002. The caricature was later adopted as the official logo of the festival. He was introduced to the public in December 14, 2004 in The Fort, Taguig and December 18, 2004 in Iloilo City. Depicted as a young Aeta warrior, Dagoy symbolizes the jollification and friendship of ilonggo’s and other thousands of tourists flocked to witness the festival.

Dagoy stands six feet nine inches tall. He has a dark brown skin tone and wears a headdress with an image of Sto. Niño. He is garb with a camel-colored loincloth which is the typical attire of an Aeta. Dagoy is holding a drum made of fiberglass with the logo of the Iloilo City Government printed at the center. His hands and feet are adorned with multi-colored bracelets, similar to these being worn by a Dinagyang warrior.

Dagoy's winsome smile is popular among children as such miniature version of the mascot is marketed as Dagoy Dolls. The mascot has also its mini-event in the festival with Dress-up Dagoy Contest.
Awards and Citations

Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2006 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2007 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
Best Tourism Event of the Philippines, 2008 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
1st ATOP Hall of Fame Best Tourism Event Awardee, 2009 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)
Best Practices of the City Government, 2009 - Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA)
Best Executing Strategy, October 2009 - Palladium Asia Pacific Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
Palladium Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame - Palladium Asia Pacific Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
Best Practice in the Promotion of the Localization of the Millennium Development Goals, 2007- United Nations Development Programme, CityNet Conference in Kathmandu, Nepal
Best Practice in Public and Private Cooperation - Asian Development Bank
Festival with Excellent Folk Choreography, National Commission for the Culture and the Arts
2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2003
Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2004
3rd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2005
2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2006
2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2007
2nd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2008
3rd Place, Aliwan Festival, 2009
Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival 2010
Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2011
Grand Champion, Aliwan Festival, 2012
Resolution No. 120 “Commending Iloilo City for Emerging as the Festival Grand Champion at the 2011 Aliwan Fiesta Street Dancing Competition”. June 1, 2011 - Philippine House of Representatives
Best Attraction Event of the Homeland to America - Philippine Independence Day Celebration in New York June 5, 2011
Queen Festival of the Philippines, 2011 - Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP)


In 1969, the Ati-Atihan contest became a part of the cultural aspect of the celebration with only four tribes participating. Since then, the celebration has progressed into a more colorful and pompous affair that includes the participation of more tribes and groups.

In 1974, the Dinagyang Festival played a vital role in the “Operation Balikbayan” program of the then Ministry of Tourism when some of the tribes provided tourists with a unique form of cultural entertainment.

In 1976, street revelry and audience participation were encouraged. From mere spectators of the performances of various competing tribes, the 1976 festivities offered people their first chance to wildly gyrate in the streets, to shed off inhibitions and to forget the cares, pressures and vexations of everyday life.

In 1977, an authentic Ati tribe from the mountains of Barotac Viejo was invited by the Dinagyang organizers and by the Regional Association of National Government Executives to perform and display their native dances.

From 1978 to the present, the Dinagyang Festival has evolved into a big religious and cultural activity supported by both the government and the private sectors. It now features cultural presentations, sports competitions and various side events.

The Festival was likewise adjudged the country’s tourism event of the year by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines for three consecutive years from 2006 to 2008.
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26-30, M
Jan 22, 2013