Dinagyang: A Religious History


I have been consistently saying to all readers of this blog that I am a born-again Christian, or let’s say, evangelical, and I am not ashamed of this faith. Dinagyang is a highly Roman Catholic celebration. You may ask why I post them here. My answer: You will never understand the Philippines’ history without considering the religion of the majority that exists in the islands for more than 400 years already.

A Wikipedia account of the Philippines could be found here. I am simply sharing this information as a proud Ilonggo and Filipino. Dinagyang showcases the richness of our culture.

Now, for Dinagyang:

This is Dagoy, the mascot of Dinagyang. He is the first and only mascot that represents a festival in the Philippines. This is one of the first in the Philippines from Iloilo City. To know more about the firsts of my beloved city, please click here.

Amidst the festive image of Dagoy, Dinagyang has a serious tone for Catholics of Iloilo. January is the month of the feast of the Christ Child following the Christmas celebration. This is the reason why Dinagyang is in January. It celebrates the feast of Santo Niño or Holy Infant.

Dinagyang’s history takes credit from the devotees of the Santo Niño. Here is a condensed history of Dinagyang:

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.

The parish served by the Confradia, the San Jose Parish, has a school. This institution, put up by the Augustinian missionaries, holds a reenactment of the story of how Christianity was received at the shores of the Philippines.

Various persons for this event are representing several characters from history. The following pictures I will share with you were taken during the arrival of the image of Santo Niño de Cebu.

The San Jose Parish Church.

The Santo Niño. Every Dinagyang, a Hermana, and Hermano Mayor serve as the muse and consort for the festival. Commonly, they are members of the Confradia and are married. Together with a child that wears a Holy Infant costume, they are the important persons for the feast.

Many Catholic Filipinos believe in the supernatural power of wearing clothes just like those of the Santo or venerated images or sculptures. Some say just by wearing, and a fever will go away instantly. Parents consider this as a great honor and blessing for the family.

Princesa Isabel ’08

These were “Damas” or Dames

This is the Princesa Isabel of 2011.

All muses and beautiful women are shown here are different from Miss Iloilo Dinagyang, and Miss Hiyas sang Iloilo Festival Queen.

I hope you enjoyed this post! 😉



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