Iloilo had a party fever last January 21 to 23 as the people celebrated Dinagyang Festival 2011.
The atmosphere at the airport was already festive when we arrived Friday at one in the afternoon. There were some men dressed as Ati warriors moving with the steady beating of drums.
After checking in at Ong Bun Pension House, we proceeded to Deco’s. The steamy La Paz Batchoy was a very warm welcome.
Night time during the festival was upbeat and roaring. Every street in the town proper was filled with people. They drank beer, ate grilled food, sang videoke, and watched local bands perform.
We joined the street merrymaking only until midnight so we can have enough energy for next day’s event – Kasadyahan 2011.
The crowd thickened as the competition progressed. Half past ten we decided to get away from the chaos and explore the Visayan land. This time I met blogger Mark who willingly accompanied us to some churches in Iloilo.
Of all these, my favorite would be San Joaquin. The stillness of the place invoked peace. I suddenly remembered a trivia about Rey Valera when I entered the premises – he composed songs inside a cemetery. Anyway. Random stuff.
Sunday was the main event – Dinagyang 2011. We didn’t get the chance to watch the performances. No ticket, no entry at the Freedom Grandstand. There were fixers who were selling complimentary tickets for Php1,200. The price went down to Php1,000 after two tribes were done. It was frustrating. We wondered how foreigners dealt with it, they who traveled all the way to Iloilo just to watch the tribes’ performances live. There was no other way but to wait at the exit.
After performing, the tribes went out on the streets and started dancing/marching throughout the city proper. Sounds and colors filled the streets. I suddenly forgot about the ticket issue.