Iloilo City’s Heritage Pt. 4: Festivals


Adjusting and booking your travel schedule to a certain place is mostly dependent on its festival dates, and Iloilo City is not an exception. In this part four of my post about the Iloilo City heritage, we cover the popular festivals that the city held every year.

Iloilo Dinagyang Festival – A religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City. Held every rd Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog in Cebu and the Ati-Atuhan in Aklan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival of Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis. Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. 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 present festival. Dinagyang festival was voted as the best Tourism Event of 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.

Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival – Held every third week of February. Claimed as the oldest traditional craft in Asia, the Paraw Regatta is a race among seaferers on colorful sailboats called Paraws in the Iloilo Strait between Guimaras Island and the city of Iloilo. The present-day paraw managed to maintain its original design from the sailboats of the first settlers from Borneo who were in search of a peaceful home in 1212 A.D. Surviving centuries; the paraws have become a vital part of the Filipino seafaring life. The first race started in 1973 with the mission to preserve the historic value of the paraws. It is held every 3rd weekend of February at Villa Arevalo District in Iloilo City. Today, the event has grown from being a boat race to a festival with various interesting and exotic activities.

Feast of Our Lady of Candles – The biggest and most opulent religious pageantry in Western Visayas. The blessing of candles and the yearly procession of the patronees, the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria is followed by the Fiesta Queen and her Court. Trade Fairs are held at Jaro Plaza to highlight the celebration.

Iloilo City Charter Day – Showcasing the Iloilo City’s history and culture. Iloilo was already a city even during the Spanish colonial Period. Back in the 19th century. By virtue of the Royal Decree of 1896, Iloilo City was given the coat of arms with inscription: “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo”in recognition of the people’s loyalty to the Spanish crown. Iloilo (including Jaro) was, however, reverted back to being a municipality sometime in 1901 when the American’s took over the Philippines. In July 16, 1937, Iloilo (Punta) was merged with the towns of jaro, La paz, Arevalo, Molo, and Mandurriao to form present day Iloilo City on July 16, 1937 by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 158. The parade and celebration was postponed 40 days later pending the formal inauguration of the City Government of Iloilo on August 25, 1973.

For the first time in the history of this city, Iloilo commemorates its declaration as a Chartered City 73 years ago. The celebration which started last July 16 (the exact date 73 years ago when Iloilo was converted into a chartered city and inaugurated 40 days after) was spearheaded by the new city Mayor, Jed Mabilog through the City Tourism Development Officer (CTDO).

This year’s 40 day celebration includes activities such as thanksgiving mass; exhibit of Ilonggo arts and crafts; civic-military parade; food festival of Ilonggo dishes; Ilonggo music festival; Search for Mr. and Ms. Iloilo City; river clean-up and bloodletting, among others. It will culminate on August 25 in which the date Iloilo City has been inaugurated as a chartered city.

Chinese New Year – Celebrated by the Chinese (of Ilonggo descent) community, the festivity is highlighted by by a cultural parade and cultural presentation of the Chinese schools in the city, Chinese food festival and grad fireworks display.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) – Iloilo is one of the religious and cultural centers of prosperous region during the Holy Week, religious customs and traditions are practiced around the province. A variety of events is clustered and is commemorated in various ways in service of worship. Many details varying with the community mark activities such as the presentation of “pasyon” plays dramatizing the passion and death of Christ. Popular Lenten devotions in the city of Iloilo is a procession from the principal church where a certain amount of ceremony is tied up in luxury and splendor with the parade of life-size statues of saints in mourning, winding slowly around the streets.

Some of the sub events lined up during the occasion by the City Tourism Office are the Palapas Making Contest; Sambuwa sang Pasyonista and Photo Exhibit.

Categories : I am Iloilo