Iloilo is famous for its mardi gras-style Dinagyang
Festival, held in the fourth week of January. Celebrating Santo
Niņo (Child Jesus) with outrageous costumes and dances, this three week
frenzy of imagination takes the form of a street party, capturing
perfectly the fun-loving nature of the Ilongos - not to mention their
The Lonely Plant Guide to the
Philippines- 8th Edition
29th January 2006
Iloilo city had its annual festival on from the the 27th
to the 29th of January. It is not nearly as old as the
Ait-Aithan festival, but it is a lot bigger. I decided to check
out the celebrations on the Sunday with a bunch of other volunteers.
Game Ka Na Ba? Game Na! *
The Dinagyang festival is a lot more organized than the Ati-Aithan
festival. The centerpiece of the whole festival was a dance
competition between the 20 or so tribes. There were six
grandstands scattered around the city each the tribes would rotate
between them. It costs us 500 ($12.50) pesos each to get a seat in
a grandstand. Carol, the wife of Toto and a lovely person as well,
organized the tickets for us.
Someone got a bit greedy with the tickets
though as the grandstand we were in was
very cramped. Thankfully, not everybody that bought a ticket
showed up. If they had, I would of had my feet up on
the chair with me. Ugh.
The dances themselves were very
full of energy and life. I'm not sure how they managed to repeat
their dances six times without keeling over. These dudes
were my favorite. They played to crowd and had an interesting
dance. I'm not sure who actually won, but they would of got my
It was about at this point that my camera died. It has been
threatening to do so for a while. The 50 or so pictures that I had
taken vanished and I was unable to take anymore, which was very
annoying. I should be able to claim the cost of my camera back on
travel insurance. All the photos you see on this page have been
copied from other people's cameras.
It sounds really weird, but I really panicked
when my camera died. I've mentioned this before, but I'll mention
it again. The last three (four? five?) years of my life
seems to of not existed. Large chunks have disappeared due to
excessive work followed by poor mental health. There are
very few photos of me during those periods.
As a reaction to this, I am taking crap loads
of photos (3,200 is five months!) and putting a lot of effort into
keeping this website up to date. I was so worried about being
unable to take pictures, that I made a special trip into Iloilo city on
the Monday evening to buy my new camera. Once I had the
camera, the panic levels decreased.
Stuff That Happened
After the concert, we wandered around Iloilo City itself for a
bit. Assorted highlights include:
Dan Gets Popular With the Ladies
Rightfully or wrongly, western men are quite popular with most
Filipino ladies. The age of the man does not matter, and the age
of the Filipino lady does not matter. Dan
discovered this out on the streets of Iloilo.
We were waiting for some friends to arrive
from Dumangas. We happened to be quite close to the sound
stage. Two ladies approached us and started gyrating in our
direction. The ladies were a lot older than us and one was
dressed in a leopard skin print top. Nothing says class like
leopard skin print.
Dan was closest to them and, I assume, felt
obliged to dance with one of them.
They tried to get the rest of us to dance with them, but only Dan was
Gaggles of Children
I find it quite easy to chat with people when I first meet them in
the Philippines. It easy to rattle of a few Hilyganon phrases to
get the ball rolling and have a few laughs. Some of my favorite
opening phrases include:
How are you?
Ako Mahambal Gamay Hilyganon
I speak a little Hilyganon.
By this stage people have asked me if I speak Hilyganon.
Delongun, Ilong, Ulo, Gwapo
*points to various parts of body* Ears, Nose, Head...
*points to face* Handsome...
This always gets laughs.
Kano ka-on kanon
White man eats rice.
Particularly good when you're sharing a meal.
When people say "Hey Joe" to me on
the street, I will often say something like "Maayoung Gabi!",
to them. This is always a good way to strike up a conversation
with a local.
Occasionally, this sort of behavior attracts
a crowd like it did for me at Dinagyang. I got chatting to one
girl, and before I knew it, I had a whole gaggle
of girls following me.
Partay - Take 2
The festival concluded with big parties all over town. I met
up with some Dumangas locals at the San Miguel
stage, which was all very reminiscent of the Octoberfest
that I attended last year.
There was much drinking
and dancing. I even convinced some
volunteers to indulge in some Balut. Dan
scoffed one down and, despite much encouragement, Eric
Balut, for those who don't know, is a duck embryo
that has been boiled just prior to hatching.
Summing it up
I enjoyed the Dinagyang Festival. A bit more formal than Ati-Atihan,
but fun nevertheless.
I think I may be all festival-ed out at the
moment. Bring on the quiet weekend....
* The Philippines has a very popular
game show called Game Ka Na Ba. Every so often the hostess
says "Game ka na ba?" ("Is the game on?") , and the
audience responds by pumping their fists and shouting "Game
Na!" ("Game on!")
I think it means something like "Have You
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2005 and 2006 Malcolm Trevena.
All the stuff on this site is written by me, Malcolm Trevena. Feel free to
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