Reformation500: The Comity Agreement between Protestant Churches in the Philippines

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The picture shows an outdoor Protestant service outside a Roman Catholic sanctuary in the early 1900s. As the Philippines was ceded by Spain to the United States of America, American missionaries also took the opportunity to share their faith on the islands after more than 300 years of isolation.

Together with this, the prevailing anti-Spanish attitude of the people, who they associate with Roman Catholicism, paved the way for Protestantism to take root in the hearts of the people. Because of this, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist leaders met in New York in 1898 resulting in a comity agreement that divided the places of ministry to avoid conflicts among missionaries and converts. This means that only one ministry would be allowed in a specific area. The said missionaries also met in 1901 in Manila to form the Evangelical Union that aimed to “delineate the geographical work allotments for each church.”

From 1898 to 1930, the following comprised the agreement: Methodists (1898, most of lowland Luzon and north of Manila); Presbyterians (1899, Bicol, Southern Tagalog area and some parts of Central and Western Visayas); Baptists (1900, Western Visayas); United Brethren (1901, Mountain Province and La Union); Disciples of Christ (1901, Ilocos, Abra, and Tagalog towns); Congregationalists (1902, Mindanao except for the western end); and Christian and Missionary Alliance (1902, Western Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago). Manila was opened to all denominations and mission agencies. This explains why said denominations still have a presence in their respective areas up to this day.

However, this agreement proved to be complicated and was shattered due to some conflicts in individual doctrines and practices. During the Japanese occupation, the thirteen major denominations (listed above plus the Seventh-day Adventists, the Episcopal Church, Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas, Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo, and American Protestant Missions) were again unified by the Japanese into the Evangelical Church of the Philippines to distinguish the evangelicals and control their affairs. After the independence at the end of World War II, the churches again split and regained autonomy.

But Christ’s plan is still for unity among His believers. Currently, several efforts for ecumenism and church unity are happening inter-denominationally in the country and around the world, serving God’s purpose for the universal Church.

The Christian Reformed Churches in North America sent a mission to the Philippines during the 1970s which planted many congregations in the country. A small fellowship was eventually started in the 1980s in Iloilo City. This group eventually became the present-day members of the Re:New Christian Church, rooted in the Christian faith and the values of the Reformed tradition.

Though currently a non-denominational church a sense of inclusivity and love for all, we owe all of this to the Reformation that started 500 years ago, as we remain in God’s love and serving His purpose for us.

As Paul said in Philippians 3:12–14 (NIV), “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,l but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

September 2017 Physician Licensure Examination results

The results are in! After just four working days, the Professional Regulatory Commission has released the results of the recent licensure exams for physicians. 3,340 out of 4,064 takers passed.

For this year, the top performing medical schools are:

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The top ten successful examinees are:

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The list of all passers is available below. Congratulations to our new doctors! For more information, visit the PRC website dedicated on this here.

Reformation500: How Reformed Christianity Reached the Philippines

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

Spain started its colonization of the Philippine islands in March 1521, just six years after Martin Luther declared his faith on the doors of Wittenberg Church. While the Reformation was enjoying its early success in Europe, the inhabitants of these islands are yet to encounter the Christian faith.

The goal of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition was to jumpstart the Kingdom of Spain’s quest for God, Gold, and Glory; where God signifies the Christianization of lands that they will colonize. In this painting by Fernando Amorsolo, we see the first mass on the islands and the conversion of the locals into Christianity through the Roman Catholic Church.

Prior to this arrival, Spain was one of the prospect states for the Reformation ideology to penetrate. However, the Spanish Inquisition, a special tribunal to identify those who were deemed heretics by the kingdom and the church established in 1478, was a strong opposing force. This deadly tribunal led to countless deaths of Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and other non-Catholics, or their exile, whichever comes first. The Inquisition was only disbanded in 1834.

Understandably, this also prevented the spread of the Reformation to the Philippine Islands throughout the 333 years of Spanish rule. However, the Reformation, through its influence on the Enlightenment, may have spread some ideologies through literature. Several local uprisings from local church leaders were also noted, notably, the separation of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente from the Roman Catholic Church led by Gregorio Aglipay, often hailed by the church’s members as the “Martin Luther of the Philippines.”

The Reformed church formally stepped on the waters of the country after the Treaty of Paris in 1898, which ended the Spanish-American War, was signed, where the Philippines was ceded to the United States of America. Because of this, American Protestant Missionaries were able to spread the Gospel among the people. Prior to this, Catholicism was the state religion and other denominations are not permitted to practice their faiths.

The first Protestant service held in the Philippines was on Sunday, August 28, 1898 led by Chaplain George Stull of The Methodist Episcopal Church, After the service, he said, “That the power of God will use this day to make a good Catholic better, any weak American stronger, any backslider ashamed, and the gloomy old dungeon the beginning of wonderful things in these Islands, is my prayer.”

Re:New Christian Church lives up to this legacy on how the Reformation shaped the world and how the Gospel of God was shared up to this generation of Filipinos. We continue to meet and discover this wonderful story that God has laid before us, speaking of His greatness and of His love through His Son Jesus Christ.

Further back, this is our answer to Jesus’ Great Commission, and we dream of fulfilling this commandment, spreading His word up to the ends of the world.

Martin Luther said, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'” Revelation 14:6–7 (NIV)

100 days before Christmas 2017

Well, there’s only 100 days before Christmas this year. And if you’ve read my post about Filipino Christmases, you would know that we celebrate the season for months. For others, today marks their true countdown for the celebration.

And if this early Christmas festivities can take away all the bad things that we experienced this year up to this point, I know most of us would gladly have them.

We would rather celebrate. Of course, just see what we have:

 

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The Rise of Human Rights issues in the Philippines. The country is still under the war on drugs and many are dying as collateral damage.
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The USA was ravaged by two hurricanes. Some Filipinos overseas were also affected.
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The Government’s Budget. Netizens slammed Congress after they passed that the Commission on Human Rights will be given only Php 1,000.00 for their budget next year. The constitution is now reviewed by most citizens.
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Marcos’ 100 Birth Anniversary. The late dictator was given a special celebration following his 100th birth anniversary, with the Malacañang even giving him a special holiday in Ilocos.
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iPhone X launch. Now, owners of old iPhones will strive to get this model and may starve themselves because of this.

And more. Conflicting opinions clash about these topics. We cannot blame others who would rather think of happy things than to ponder on these. But it does not mean they will not be discussed. They must be discussed in an intelligent way.

More than just a mode of diverting our attention, Christmas must teach us the gift of the season: HOPE. Let us continue to hope that our world will survive until all of these will pass.

Filipino Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays for Four Months

It’s nearly September and your friends might be sharing this meme for several hours on the first. In the early days of online social media, Filipinos would post Christmas messages at exactly 12:00 AM of the said day. But nowadays, people would make fun of this overly-advance holiday spirit and place Jose Mari Chan’s face in their profiles.

But would Filipino Christmas be complete without Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in our Hearts?” Originally released in 1990, this album would become the best-selling OPM album of all time and would top selling charts for albums since then. Filipinos all around the world would know that cassette tapes and CDs of the album would be played starting September 1.

If you have read this blog, you would know that I, too, am a junkie for Christmas. This season just brings back wonderful memories of childhood and its Christian side has always been a story of hope and love for all generations. But why the need for a long celebration?

 

A Time to Cringe

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August is often called tigkiriwi for Hiligaynon-speakers, a time marked by poverty and hardships. For people in working in rice fields and sugar cane plantations, the month is when the rice fields are not yet ready for harvest and sugarcane mills are not yet active. The term tigkiriwi comes from the root word kiwi, which means “turned or twisted aside, awry, oblique, inclined, sloping, slanting, leaning, canting, crooked.” The cringing face is the hallmark of this month.

Those working in sugarcane plantations would say that this month is part of what they call the tiempo muerto or dead season which starts in April covering the Holy Week celebrations which commemorate Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.

These facts alone tell that August is deemed a sad month for the people especially from those in Western Visayas. With no harvest in sight, and all the funds spent up with the enrollment fees and other school needs in June, the tigkiriwi season will surely elicit cringing faces from struggling families trying to make a living. This fact also explains why the planned change of the school calendar in the country may not be a totally good idea.

Given these, Filipinos seek for something to draw them out of the worries of August. September poses as a symbol of hope.

 

Ber months or Beer months?

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The last four months of the year all end in -ber and the ingenuity of Filipinos led to coining the term Ber Months to refer to them. Christmas music would be heard from malls, most notably SM malls all over the country which would set a schedule for holiday tunes to be played. FM stations also start playing them from time to time.

In the past, people would even try to decorate their homes prior to September 1st just to embrace the festive feeling of the coming season. While these phenomenon has decreased in recent years, many families and establishments would still try to do this feat.

Meanwhile, people would eventually associate beer with the Ber Months. A 2001 survey of subjects aged between 15 and 74 years (total sample size n = 10 240) found that the rate of regular drinking was 11.1% (total), 13% (males) and 5.9% (females). Regular drinking was defined as drinking on four days or more per week. But if you’re around the community, you would see that beer consumption is rising during this months.

Together with the initiative of a local beer brand to bring the German celebration of Oktoberfest in the country, the emergence of the Beer Months moniker was legitimized. Unlike other Oktoberfest celebrations in the world, this coincides with the Ber Months with various celebrations across the archipelago from September to December. However, the German Club in Manila also celebrates this event, albeit more faithful to the original festival which, as of this writing, is in its 79th year.

The 2016 Oktoberfest hosted by the Manila German Club.

Perhaps this association only proves how right the tigkiriwi idea of the previous month is. With beer, people can be happy and be festive.

 

A Coping Mechanism

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Maybe this early celebration of Christmas is nothing but a coping mechanism. The country has experienced various hardships in the past. From its three centuries under Spanish rule to the Marcos dictatorship, one can see how the need for a long-term celebration is imminent here.

As of this writing, the country is bracing itself for the 10th typhoon to enter the area. Typhoons enter the country’s area of responsibility during the last part of May and would even reach until December. The country has been called the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms and though these storms may hamper Christmas celebrations, the mere promise of happiness by the season aids in coping with the stress that they may bring.

 

“I remember the Child…”

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The Philippines is known to be the fourth largest Christian country in the world with 90% of Filipinos are Christians which consists of 80.1% Roman Catholic, 1.8% Evangelical, 0.7% Iglesia ni Cristo, 1.1% Aglipayan, and 2.2% other Christian groups including other Protestant denominations. Majority of these Christian groups celebrate Christmas and because of this, it is not surprising that Christmas is a famous celebration in the country.

The Christ child has been viewed as a symbol of hope in the country. The Gospel message of God sending His only Son to save humanity has been the closest idea of redemption for the people. The promise of a new life in Christ and His coming may have enticed people to love the celebration that comes only once a year.

 

Christmas Economics

Of course, Christmas also has the promise of better earnings for business owners and more compensation for wage earners. The rise of sales because of buying gifts, decorations, and food, plus the added consumption of electricity and personnel is what it takes for the economics of Christmas to be deemed beneficial.

The country has the Presidential Decree No. 851 or the 13th-Month Pay Law that provides employers to give extra pay for regular employees to be given by December 24th every year, perhaps to give more purchasing power to employees during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, government employees in the country also get their 14th-month pay by virtue of Budget Circular 2017-2 covering all civilian, uniformed, and military personnel that has been in government service for at least four months of service since July 2016. This pay is given as a midyear bonus in the month of May.

However, the Philippine Statistics Authority gathered data in 2014 and concluded that more than a quarter of the total establishment employment were non-regular workers. Employment of nonregular workers in establishments with at least 20 workers as of 30 June 2014 was placed at 1.336 million – more than a quarter (29.9%) of the total establishment workforce of 4.472 million. This only means that these non-regular workers cannot avail of the provisions given above. The issue of contractualization is still widespread in the country even with the Department of Labor and Employment’s policy of banning endo in 2016.

 

Merry Christmas sa gihapon!

Maybe all of these woes still lead people to for ways to comfort themselves. Christmas is a simple celebration rooted in the modern Christian tradition, solidified by several events in the people’s lives. All of the reasons I gave may just be that. But the Filipino’s long celebration of Christmas is a beauty to behold.

And before Jose Mari Chan serenades you, let me be the first to greet you: Merry Filipino Christmas!

May that star on Christ’s still shine today and give us hope ’til Christmas Day!

New Generation Bills – Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Again, I present the new generation of Philippines bills. I deleted the post I did back then. Here, I’m posting the pics again.

My opinion against it is still intact. Euro design, USDollar security, Photoshop layout, and poor scientific research. Add to that the insult to the Philippine writing, baybayin, which was presented half and half. ?????

2-piso obverse
2-piso reverse
50-piso obverse
50-piso reverse
100-piso obverse
100-piso reverse
200-piso obverse
200-piso reverse
500-piso obverse
500-piso reverse
1000-piso obverse
1000-piso reverse
How about you, what’s your opinion on these bills’ design? Me, I’m still waiting for the coins design. I hope I’ll be amused.

Paraw Regatta Festival: Another Festival Milestone of the City of Iloilo + Sinamba sa Paraw Regatta Pics

I love posts about festivals. It hurts me that I don’t have the guts and glory (i.e., money) to attend all festivals in the world. Perhaps I also lack the DIGITAL CAMERA.haha. But my love for festivities is only rivaled by my pure adoration to my city. There has never been this kind of feeling in my life towards an inanimate thing than my love for Iloilo City.

You may have seen my posts about the Dinagyang Festival and Iloilo Chinese New Year Festival which are parts of the festival routine in the annual first quarter. The next would be the Paraw Regatta Festival. Hearing the name you will know that this is a regatta, a race of “paraws” which is, “a double outrigger sail boat found in the Philippines”.

I hope my posts that combine my love for festivals and my love for my city do you! 😉

Here you will find a nice presentation of the paraw by the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation.

It is hailed as one of the oldest and most colorful boat festivals in Asia since its conception in 1973 but it is distinct from its other relatives because of the diversity of activities it features like all other Ilonggo festivals. While its main showcase is the race of paraws from Villa Beach, Arevalo passing through the Iloilo Strait to the island Province of Guimaras, it is also made up of several but not limited activities as follows: Pinta Layag, sail painting contest; Porma Balas, sand sculpting; Pintawo, body painting contest; Miss Paraw Regatta,a local beauty pageant; Sinamba sa Regatta (formerly Samba De Regatta), music & Mardi Gras contest; Luces by the Sea,a pyrotechnic exhibition; beach volleyball; and photo competition. This year, the foundation introduced a new event which is the Iloilo National Jet Ski Competition which is also a Mayor’s Cup.

If only I have all the equipments to cover all these things, I would have offered you a B-E-A-utiful eyecandies. I have presented here a section devoted to “Sinamba sa Regatta”.

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A Sinamba lead dancer

“Sinamba sa Regatta” is also considered to be a highlight of Paraw Regatta and is a major break from the decades of simple regattas of the city. The costumes, music, and theme is very similar to its inspiration, the Mardi Gras of South America. It is held every Thursday of the festival week and on the regatta proper. The prelims is held at the streets of City Proper from the Iloilo Provincial Capitol building up to the famed Iloilo Freedom Grandstand which is where the performers do their thing. The finals is held on the Villa Beach together with the other activities.

The preliminaries is also a torch parade with sectors from the government and NGOs parade through the streets to either showcase their talents or just play along.

Here are the pictures! Enjoy!

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The participants also come from schools all over the city. This one event makes me proud of the unity thing displayed by the people, the people of the City of Love of the Philippines. 😉

Arnis: The National Sport and Martial Art of the Philippines

This was supposed to be published after my Dinagyang specials. Now it’s super-delayed. But arnis does rock so I’m publishing it anyway!

I’m still overwhelmed by the Dinagyang fever! This post is also contaminated by it! I was so inspired by an arnis competition that was joined by my younger brother that I take pride with arnis automatically.

As you know, I want to present an informative blog that would be enjoyable for people to read. At the same time, I want to show the real me through these post. Here is one of them. I<3ARNIS!

Here is a brief background:

EskrimaArnis and Kali refer to a class of Filipino martial arts that emphasize weapon-based fighting with sticks, blades and improvised weapons. Although training starts with weapons, empty hand techniques, trapping and limb destruction are core parts of these arts as the weapon is considered merely an extension of the body. Eskrima and Arnis are the most common among the many names often used in thePhilippines today to refer to these arts.

The teaching of the basic skills in Eskrima are traditionally simplified. With limited time to teach intricate moves, only techniques that were proven effective in battle and could easily be taught en masse were used. This allowed villagers, generally not professional soldiers, a measure of protection against other villages, as well as foreign invaders. This philosophy of simplicity is still used today and is the underlying base of eskrima. Because of this approach, eskrima and the Filipino martial arts in general are often mistakenly considered to be “simple”. However, this refers only to its systematization, not effectiveness. To the contrary, beyond the basic skills lies a very complex structure and a refined skillset that takes years to master.

Even though many modern-day people call it Eskrima or Kali, I prefer it be Arnis since this reflects the ingenuity of the Filipino race and a proper one since the main idea or objective of the art is the stick or “arnis” which is then utilized to several other types of styles of the art.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!: Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival 2011

This event is very close to my heart. It may not surpass the greatness of Dinagyang or the unity in Paraw Regatta, but my heart belongs to it.

I was educated in a Chinese high school and took up my secondary education at Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School. I was pretty attached to the Chinese culture. But more than this, the Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival is very dear in my heart because of two things: I was a performer in its festivities for four years, and I met my special person through this event.

Enough of myself and back to what I’m supposed to present! Here is a are previews of a performances in the festival by the Lion and Dragon Dancers of my alma mater:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsiX9C2k4Eo;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj-K5Ig8Nxo;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Just so you know, if you find their performance the best in Iloilo, it’s the fact that they are the only school that has sent people to China just to train in these Chinese arts and I’m pretty proud of them.

This lunar year is said to be the Year of the Metal Rabbit. I’m not really into Chinese or any kind of zodiac but hey, these symbolisms are embedded in our lives. The Chinese schools of our city and several associations, organizations, and foundations joined together with the Iloilo City Government to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

This is the very first “Chinese New Year Festival” in the Philippines, the very first Chinese new year cultural presentation in the Visayas, and the inspiration of several Chinese new year celebrations in the country including Bacolod City’s Bacolaodiat. It is dubbed as the best celebration of the Chinese new year outside Ongpin (Manila’s Chinatown).

This festival was originally a cultural presentation of Chinese culture and arts of the city’s Chinese community but it was hailed and was given a festival status by the then-City Mayor, Cong. Jerry P. Treñas. This led to the sequence of festivals in Iloilo City as follows: Arevalo Fireworks Festival=>Kasadyahan Festival=>Dinagyang Festival=>Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Fiesta=>Chinese New Year Festival=>Paraw Regatta Festival. This sequence, with the Candelaria Fiesta and Chinese New Year as interchangeable events, are held from January to February.

Participants are as follows: Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School (怡朗中山中学), Iloilo Central Commercial High School (怡朗华商中学), Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School (雅典耀学校), Iloilo Scholastic Academy (怡朗新华学院), and Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (圣心学校).

Held every immediate Friday of the first Lunar year’s week, the Iloilo Chinese New Year Festival is a concrete manifestation of the close relationship of the Ilonggo and Chinese cultures properly presented by the city’s Filipino-Chinese communities and of the Ilonggo race. Kung Hei Fat Choi and Waswas Iloilo!

Dinagyang 2011 in Youtube: View the Ati-ati Tribe Competition

Well, a tweetfriend gave me an idea. I’m not sure if any of you out there is ever interested with Dinagyang but I want to show this festival to the world. So here they are, in the same order with the main event!

DISCLAIMER: I am not the owner of these videos. Since they are posted in youtube, I assume they are royalty-free and free-to-embed. I am in no way related to webfreeb or any Dinagyang tribe. Hala bira!

Tribu Bola-bola

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY0Z8c3PCFc;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Atub-atub

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe3vK9gp_s8;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Paghidaet

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50EuDar4U0A;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Molave

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZipaCT3QVU;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Silak

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csXMXuWPVms;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Aninipay

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-x0JjLd2EQ;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Salognon

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCOFde0N5_E;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Himal-us

Tribu Manduryaw

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR1e4MLXaec;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Bantu

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MamEx1V8j3w;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Pan-ay

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h960L0L87c;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Pag-asa

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP3rZIPr2R8;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Ilonganon

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T52WGbovqWU;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Tribu Angola

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jAxtZwlHcw;rel=0&w=425&h=350]

Results for DINAGYANG 2011 – ATI-ATI COMPETITION:
MINOR AWARDS
Best in Discipline……………………. Tribu Bola-Bola
Best in Street Dancing…………….. Tribu Paghidaet
Best in Music………………………… Tribu Salognon
Best in Costume and Headdress…. Tribu Paghidaet
Best in Choreography………………. Tribu Pan-ay
Best in Performance………………… Tribu Pan-ay

 

MAJOR AWARDS
4th Runner-up……. Tribu Manduryaw
3rd Runner-up……. Tribu Salognon
2nd Runner-up…… Tribu Bola-Bola
1st Runner-up……. Tribu Paghidaet
CHAMPION………… Tribu Pan-ay

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