By Tara Yap
Iloilo City — For the last 50 years, the Dinagyang Festival has been a unifying force for Ilonggos which has also spurred growth and development, festival organizers and local officials said.
“Dinagyang is a genuine celebration through camaraderie, service and charity,” said festival organizer and president of Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. Ramon Cua Locsin.
While the 50th year of the festival depicting the imaginary conversion of native Atis (Aetas) into Christianity culminated last January 28, the Dinagyang continues to foster private-public partnership (PPP).
“It’s not about the festival’s grandeur, but about partnerships forged. We are more productive when the private sector, the government and the church unite,” Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III told the Manila Bulletin.
The success of the Dinagyang Festival has also resulted in the growth and development of Iloilo, especially in the last eight years.
“Dinagyang is the center of attraction that makes people appreciate the growth and progress of the city and province of Iloilo,” added Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Helen Catalbas added that the Dinagyang Festival does not only bring the best out of Iloilo, but also highlights the diverse culture of Western Visayas with the showcase of other town festivals.
Dinagyang Festival’s golden anniversary also featured international performances of Te Amiorangi tribe from New Zealand and Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi group from South Korea.
Another new feature was the Dinagyang Float and Lights Parade, which culminated at the Iloilo Business Park of Megaworld Corp.