Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sea Fever....

by John Masefield (from Salt-Water Ballads, 1902)


 I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
 And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down go to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

Biri Island, Samar
 I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

Biri Island, Samar
 And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

The sea for most is a sanctuary from a fast-paced life....longing for that serene moment, just the blues and greens and relaxing sound of the frolicking waves. It offers relief to a stressed-out soul, the weary eyes and tired feet...yet for me it’s more than the calm shores and the breezy air. The sea beckons my inner wild spirit, the curious mind and adventurous heart.  

When the tide ceases, the bare sand and rocks may seem washed out and uninviting.  Looking closely, it’s actually a banquet, a snapshot or a teaser for what’s out there in the ocean floor.  Looking closely you’ll see, that the rocks and wet sand are teeming with life.   Like a window that educates a curious mind.  

Apo Island, Negros
When the tide is high, Mother Nature may let you swim in peace.   But beware when the tempest comes. For that time, the sea commands respect. Yes, commands it for the sea can be ruthless sometimes, treacherous even…..mesmerizing one moment and then pulling you under the next.

Apo Island, Negros Oriental
For the sea should be valued for its beauty, and respected for its might…

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dinagyang 2012: Tribu Pan-ay, Ati Tribe Champs

Tribu Pan-ay, Champion of the Dinagyang 2012 Ati Tribes Competition!

Tribu Pan-ay is composed of students from Fort San Pedro National High School. Their former name was Tribu San Pedro in honour of the apostle and saint believed by Christians as the keeper of Heaven’s gate (

Even in the streetdance, you can say they were everybody’s favorite. Everybody cheered them as they go, the Festival kings! Why not? They were the grand champion of last year’s Ati competition, winning all the way to the Aliwan Festival of 2011, not only copping the crown as the best of the country’s festival of festivals, but were brought to no less than New York as part of the grand prize. Celebrities!

I was in the streets taking pictures from tribe one; they were third from last so it was a long wait. This was my first time to witness Dinagyang so I haven’t really seen them first hand.  The minute I saw their mean-looking-larger-than-truck Eagle…I said ‘Oh Man! This one I gotta see!’. 
So I raced back to the sports complex, wormed thru the crowds, past the stern-looking guardia civils (the crowd control police) onto the VIP platform (shhhhh!) and easeled up to the front albeit kneeling on the cement just to watch these kids.

Then it’s just WOW!  If I wasn’t kneeling I would be jumping up and down cheering! Their energy was contagious! If I wasn’t taking pictures, I would be clapping and shouting together with five hundred people, cheering them on! But I had to check myself since I was a fugitive in the VIP platform or the people behind would have thrown me outside the grandstand rails.

The performance was indeed worthy of the reputation. Their eagle inspired costumes blending rhythmically with their master-crafted moves wowed the crowds, impressed the foreigners…and from what I heard all the way from judging area 1. I was in the last judging area, expecting the kids to tire this one out, but gee….just where did they get those energy!

Their repertoire was imaginative. Kind of a strange mix up of Ati lore, with the eagle and all that, but who cared? Nah! No one…everybody went wild! They had this electric appeal to the crowd.

Their number, I guess, was inspired from the power of an eagle, with the eagle-looking babaylans (or something), demonstrative of life I think…starting from the eagle’s eggs….

Then the white chicks….to the full-grown eagles….splendid!
Even their drummers were attuned to the theme, not only the rhythm!

Tribu Pan-ay was also a trending topic on Twitter after their winning performance was beamed live via local free television and live streaming. Aside from this year’s championship, Tribu Pan-ay won the award for best in costume designer, best in musical director, best in music, best in choreography and best in performance. Their choreographer, Mr. Rommel Flogen, was declared the best choreographer. Each minor award was worth P10,000.  In the local news, Dr. Bresilda Floro, principal of FSPNHS and tribe manager of Tribu Pan-ay broadcasted her thanks to her students for showing their best in the competition. She promised that the tribe will work hard again to retain their crown for next year’s Dinagyang. Something’s telling me this isn’t my last Dinagyang…well then, I think that’s decided.
Here's what Tribu Pan-ay looked like before they donned their eagle skins!

Before I forget, here’s the complete list of winners in the Dinagyang Festival Competitions. Thank you all for making my Dinagyang moments just simply unforgettable!

Ati Tribes Competition:
Champion: Tribu Pan-ay
1st Runner Up: Tribu Lunok
2nd Runner Up: Tribu Ilonganon
3rd Runner Up: Tribu Paghidaet
4th Runner Up: Tribu Atub-Atub

Minor Awards went to:
Best in Street Dancing: Tribu Lunok
Best in Performance: Tribu Pan-ay
Best in Choreography: Tribu Pan-ay
Best in Music: Tribu Pan-ay
Best Musical Director: Tribu Pan-ay
Best Costume Designer: Tribu Pan-ay
Best in Discipline: Tribu Paghidaet
Best Headdress: Tribu Paghidaet
Best Choreographer: Tribu Pan-ay

The Kasadyahan Festival Winners:
Champion: Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao, Iloilo
1st Runner Up: Tribu Mandaragat
2nd Runner Up: Sinulog sang Oracon Festival of Sibunag, Guimaras
3rd Runner Up: Sinadya sa Halaran of Capiz
4th Runner Up: Tribu Maragtas of West Visayas State University

Minor Awards of Kasadyahan went to:
Best in Street dance: Tribu Panguyang of Antique
Best in Performance: Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao
Best in Choreography: Salakayan Festival
Best Choreographer: Salakayan Festival
Best in Music: Tribu Mandaragat
Best in Costume: Sinulog sang Oracon Festival

Overall, the Dinagyang was one helluva festival! Now I understand why some would say it’s magical. Yep, its magic worked on me…and I was intoxicated. Still smiling by the time I’m back in the office. The big banga last year, the eagle this year…now what is in store for next year! Ahh, can’t wait!

Missed the parade? here's my post of all the other tribes in action:
Dinagyang 2012: The Fast and Furious Ati Warriors of Iloilo     

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dinagyang 2012: The Fast and the Furious Ati Warriors of Iloilo

The Dinagyang Festival, one of a kind…

It’s currently one of the most popular among the grandest festivals in the Philippines. Why? For two years in a row, it has won the championship in the annual Aliwan Fiesta not to mention a maintstay in the top ten of the roster of winners in the ten year history of Aliwan. Just what is it with this festival? Everybody seems to have it in their bucketlist. I just have to see it for myself then.

Roaming the streets and talking with friendly ilonggos along the way, we learned that the word ‘dinagyang’ came from ‘dagyang’ which means merrymaking, well, the stuff festivals is made of. But the Dinagyang festival actually has cultural and religious roots. Though Dinagyang was only formally launched in 1977, its roots can be traced back as early as 1968 when a replica of the image of Sr. Santo Niño of Cebu was brought to the San Jose Parish Church by Fr. Suplicio Ebderes, straight from Cebu City and received in the City of Iloilo by the parish priest, Fr. Ambrosio Galindez, OSA, and then Mayor Renerio Ticao. The festival, thus, is a re-enactment of this act of goodwill and then taken a notch higher by infusing a deeply religious and cultural twist: by using it as a symbol of the evangelization of Panay, the assimilation of the catholic faith by the homegrown warriors of the land, the Aetas or the Ati people.

But the Dinagyang distinguished itself from its festival cousins, the Ati Festival in Aklan and Sinulog in Cebu, in that the Aetas color is brown. It is contrary to the popular belief that the original inhabitants in the Philippines are black. The Aetas, being the first known inhabitants of the land, are believed to have descended from the Malayans who have crossed land bridges from the Asian mainland at the time when the Malay Peninsula is still connected to Asia and Sumatra.  Hence, Iloilo’s warriors color their skin brown and not black like the black Ati warriors of Aklan and Cebu.

It follows that the official festival mascot, Dagoy, sports a very rich brown complexion. He was born in 2002 but was only formally introduced in 2004 as a young Aeta warrior. A jolly and friendly face, Dagoy symbolizes the equally friendly nature of the Ilonggos.  Dagoy stands six feet nine inches tall and wears a headdress with an image of the Santo Niño. He wears the typical loin garb of an aeta with his hands and feet adorned by multicolored beads in strings.

Dinagyang is celebrated on the day of the Santo Niño’s image's arrival which falls on the 4th Sunday of January.  The celebration is complete with a fluvial procession that represents the image’s journey from the sea to the shores of Iloilo, a mass at San Jose Parish at the break of dawn, holding of the "Kasadyahan" as the opening event of the celebration, then the Ati warriors’ competition the following day.  The kasadyahan is also a streetdance presentation that dramatizes the Aeta’s life, the arrival of the 10 Bornean datus in Panay and the christianization of the Aetas represented by the exchange of the Aetas of their land for the Borneans' Golden Salakot (native hat) and a long pearl necklace.

But the real excitement is when the warriors come to town. Yup, the Dinagyang warriors are known for their fierce moves, adrenaline-pumping choreography and visual feast of colors, designs and raw emotion.  Dinagyang was once voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the Promotion of the Millennium Development Goals, and cited by the Asian Development Bank as Best Practice on government, private sector & NGO cooperations.  This is what I came here for… be overwhelmed by Dinagyang’s magic! The pounding of the drums, the catchy music, the warriors strong voices as they chant “Hala Bira” in tune with their fast complicated repertoire…and you shout along “Viva El Señor Santo Niño!!!”. 

Now let's see the contingents of the 2012 Dinagyang Ati Competition:
Tribu Paghidaet is from La Paz National High School and has always been an avid supporter of the Dinagyang Festival and the Kasadyahan. They started in 1999 and was Second runner-up. In 2000 and 2004, they won 3rd Place, they were again Second runner-up in 2001 and garnered back to back Championships in 2002 and 2003.

The tribe was judged as First runner-up and Best in Discipline in 2006 in the Kasadyahan Competition. In 2007, they were First Runner-up in the Dinagyang Competition and garnered the Best in Choreography, Choreographer, Music and Street Dancing awards.

The name was adopted because the Lapazenians believe that the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is the strong force that blows on the tribe’s sails (
Tribu Buntatalan-on is next on the list. But I can not find a background of the tribe. But I like their bright green costumes.

Tribu Salognon are composed of the students of Jaro National High School. The tribe got its name from Salog being the old name of Jaro. They had their maiden performance in 2004 and was 3rd runner-up in 2005 and the Most Colorful Costume award. In 2006, they were the Champion of the Best Tribe Competition. They also placed 2nd runner-up in the Best Warrior Tribe category. They were declared 2nd runner-up in 2007’s Dinagyang Ati competition (
Tribu Lunok was made up of students from Iloilo City National High School and organized in 1998.
They won 2nd runner up in the Dinagyang Festival 1998, 1st runner-up and best in choreography in 1999; 1st runner-up and best in performance in 2000; 1st runner-up and best in discipline in 2002 and 2nd runner-up and best in discipline in 2004.
In 2005, they changed their name to Silak and garnered the best in choreography, performance and music awards.

They were 1st runner-up in 2006 and 3rd runner-up in 2007. For this year, their name is again Tribu Lunok (
Next is Tribu Milagrosa of Zarraga National High School. They might have changed names over the past years since I cant find a match.
I like this fellow a lot, he looked so happy.
And they performed nice too! gee, I got good pictures of them...
Their ladies were kinda nice too...

Tribu Pag-asa was founded in 2002 with the tribe’s name meaning hope.  Their previous name was Kongo/Kanyao (

Tribu Ilonganon, a term coined from the word “Ilonggo” means a native of Iloilo. They are the pride of Jalandoni Memorial National High School (formerly Lapuz High School.)
Their entry name under Kasadyahan was Tribu Lapus-Lapus derived from the name of the district where the school is situated - Lapuz.
They first joined the Ati competition in 2005 and was 2nd Runner-up. In 2006, They were declared Champion of the Dinagyang Festival and got the Presidential Trophy; They were also awarded Best in Performance, Choreography and Choreographer on that same year.

The tribe was again declared Champion in 2007 and won the Best in Performance and Costume awards (
Their ladies are prettier and regal...
Their props, not to be belittled...

Commanding, like their giant Santo Nino...

Tribu Molave was founded in 1979 and was previouslay called Tribu Barangayan. They changed it to Molave in 1980 obviously got the name from the tree. The tribe was 3rd Runner-up in 1999, 2nd Runner-up in 2000 and champion from 2001-2002 in the Barangay Category. They also got the Best in Costume and Performance awards in the same year (
A special favorite tribe of mine, Tribu Atub-Atub was founded in 1971. They have a long list of achievements since they first joined the festival.
They reaped the Championship awards for the years 1978, 1983, 1988, 2000, 2003 and 2004. They also garnered the 1st runner-up in the Aliwan Dance Competition in 2003.

The tribe was again the Grand Champion for the 2nd Aliwan National Dance Parade Competition in 2004. Atub-Atub also performed in the Independence Day celebration in Intramuros and at WOW Philippines best of the regions showcase (
Atub-Atub was my favorite because of these cheeky, charming blue ladies....
They were fun, exciting...pretty and so electric!
I had so much fun watching them dance...they definitely got my thumbs up!
Tribu Aninipay was founded in the year 2000. The tribe's name was taken from a kind of grass which grows abundantly in a rocky and mountainous area in Panay where a certain tribe inhabits. The tribesmen then identified themselves as Tribu Aninipay.

The tribe was able to bag the 2nd place in the 2000 competition and they were also awarded the Best in Discipline on the same year. They were also the Most Colorful tribe in the 2003 competition (
Bantu tribe was conceptualized in 2003 and had its first performance in the Dinagyang Festival last 2004.

The tribe got its name from a place in Africa which has an abundance of crops such as banana and has its people believing in spirits found in stones (

Sorry, it seems I missed one tribe in the lot. Tribu Angola was probably the last one out. I have no pictures of them.  The tribe’s previous name was Tribu Ambal and is the legendary cannibal tribe of Zambales. The founder wanted to depict them not as cannibals but as a tribe that gives honor to Señor Santo Niño. Then in 1989, the tribe’s name was changed to Angola. Angola was 4th Runner-up in Dinagyang 2000 and they were the Best in Discipline in 2001 (

So there! We obviously got our share of fun (thanks Mel D. for this picture)

Well, some of the things the Dinagyang festival became known for are the innovations that they brought to the way festivals are being held nowadays.  These are the carousel performance (holding of sequential performance in four areas not one); the mobile risers (adds depth to Dinagyang choreography which has been adopted by other festivals) and the Dinagyang pipes (which I didn’t notice but was first used in 2005 and made of PVC pipes, emitting a distinct sound depending on length and diameter).

Also, as you can see the costumes of each tribe are an art form by themselves. Only native materials are allowed. This is an excerpt from Tribu Lunok’s description of their costume “Aligned to the advocacy of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation of a pro-nature ‘Green Dinagyang Festival’. The materials used are feather, rubber, coconut shell, beads, sawali, raffia, abaca twine, bamboo pole, dried and hardened leaves.  The headdresses are made of black, bloody red and orange feathers. The vests are made of woven bamboo strips which are meticulously cut to fit the warriors’ size, sewn and glued with feathers. The loin covers are made of red and yellow beads. The spears are made of bamboo poles, the shields are made of raffia, abaca twine and coconut shells."

How to enjoy Dinagyang? here are some tips to enjoy the Festival to its fullest:
  1. Stay tuned to the announcements from the official website of the event organizers, Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc., learn the parade route, the schedule for the Kasadyahan Competition and the Ati Warrior Competition.
  2. The Dinagyang highlight events are always scheduled on the fourth weekend of January, so be sure to book months and months ahead.
  3. Also, try to scout for hotels near where the parade usually runs. Everyone will have his/her chance of seeing the streetdance and performance since Dinagyang is the only festival I know that holds the competition in four judging areas. Meaning, the contingents shall dance their way to all four judging areas and perform. Pretty tiring, huh?  
  4. Familiarize yourself with the four judging areas. For this year, 2012, the first judging area was at the Freedom Grandstand, J. Basa St. This was the first and the most expensive (P1,200). Did I mention that seats in all 4 places were not free? Well, yeah. The Freedom Grandstand was where the Diplomats and celebrities were seated. The second was in front of the old Iloilo Provincial Capitol (P1,000). The third was near Gaisano Mall (P1,000) corner Hechanova and Luna Sts. The last area was at the Sports Complex (P300). No switching of tickets, each area was color coded so better pick one where you can get a seat up front. I recommend judging area 2 because its smaller, you can get a real good view but it’s a very small area, tickets were very limited. Well, the sports complex aint bad if all you want is a good time.
  5. If you need to get good pictures, then better get an accreditation from the Dinagyang foundation. That’s for serious photographers, bloggers and media. The ID will allow you to roam around free as usual.
  6. Buy tickets first upon landing in Iloilo, or have someone buy some for you.  Tickets can be bought from the Tourism Office at the Freedom Grandstand, at the Iloilo City Hall and at Robinsons Place.
  7. The streetdance has always been scheduled to start at 7 am., but they usually start at around 8 am or 9. But the crowds are unimaginable, so be sure to be where you paid for as early as 7 am (for judging area 1) and 9 am for the others.  Take note that the performances are held at four judging areas sequentially, from 9 am to 12 noon. So time your itinerary accordingly.
  8. Don’t worry about food, food are peddled everywhere. Take your pick: Jollibee, ChowKing, Purefoods Hotdog, etc. Water too, so it’s a comforting thought that you won’t get hungry.
Now, that sums it all up. But wait! wondering where the grand champion was for this year? The winner was indeed a spectacle! They won in the 2011 Aliwan Festival and was the first festival winner to perform in New York! yep, warriors, drummers and all....pretty lucky aren't they? but they definitely were the greatest, and it seems that nobody's stopping them now. Guessing now? well, they will be gods of my next post! so wait for it...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...