Dinagyang Festival - A Cultural Explosion in the Philippines

Dinagyang Blog Post © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis



Blogger Nathan Allen

The Dinagyang Festival takes place each year in Iloilo, Philippines - the largest city on Panay Island. Just a few hours away from the world-famous island of Boracay, tourists are starting to come from all over the world to watch the various tribes, or tribus compete.

With the colorful photos below, I aim to show you why (in my opinion) the Philippines is quite an underrated cultural destination!


Woman with intricate costume @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

To Honor Santo Niño...

This religious festival is to honor the Santo Niño, which is the oldest religious image of Jesus in the Philippines. Devotees believe it to be miraculous.



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However, the event is also to celebrate the arrival of the Malays on Panay island, which was sold to them by the indigenous Ati tribe.


Fierce Warrior @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Warrior scream during the performace


The festival is broken up into 3 separate parts: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing, and the search for Miss Dinagyang. Performers must wear costumes created from native materials. Each tribal dance includes drumming - much of which is done live.

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The dancers really give it their all...sometimes, the performances made me smile. Other times, the intensity humbled and overwhelmed me. I felt so proud. Often, these are high school kids competing, and I couldn't help but imagine all the hard work that goes into their costumes and routines.


Girl carrying basket @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
This photo exemplifies the poise and grace that Filipinas have tradtionally been known for.



The passion and dedication of these young performers really shines throughout the festival!


So Many Fiestas in the Philippines...

Dinagyang is one of many colorful festivals, or fiestas in the Philippines. If you include town fiestas all over the country, the number is likely over 10,000 each year! Christmas celebrations are the largest, and unbelievably, the festivities extend all the way from September to January! No, it's not a white Christmas, but it very well could be the longest in the world:)

Smiles all around @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

Dinagyang is impressive, but it hasn't blown up in popularity yet. That's another reason why I love it so much...because other well-known festivals like Sinulog in Cebu are quickly becoming choked with crowds.

Beautiful dancer @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
You can see why this festival is called the "Carnival of the Philippines"

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I am very tempted to come back to Dinagyang again! Next time I might also visit Gigantes Island - Iloilo province's very own paradise island a few hours away!

Warrior Group Giving a Passionate Performance @ Dinagyang - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis

More Information About Iloilo, the "City of Love"

I think Iloilo is one of the most progressive and forward-thinking cities in the Philippines. Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog seems to be well loved, and as far as I can tell, sets a great example for other Philippine leaders.

I was also impressed by the “food culture” there in Iloilo - what a wide variety of sleek, independently-owned restaurants they have! Ilongos seem to have good taste. While visiting, try to stop by the Deco’s or Netong’s at the market, so you can enjoy their signature dishes: Pancit Molo, and Batchoy.


Of course, Iloilo is also known for it’s beautiful churches. be sure to check out the “growing statue” of Jaro Cathedral, and the women saints of Molo Church. Also worth noting are the city’s lovingly restored heritage houses.

I Am Iloilo Sign @ the Promenade - Iloilo, Philippines  © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis


Many thanks to my "new family" at Days Hotel for taking great care of me during my stay in Iloilo. As always, I only partner with businesses that strive for excellence, and Days Hotel is no exception:)


Please tell them I said hi!


You can find more information in my Iloilo blog below...enjoy Dinagyang!!


-Nathan Allen




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Most recent blog: Z Hostel, and the Suprising Tech-Driven Side of the Philippines


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