On the streets of Iloilo City, Philippines the Ilonggo people erupt in an annual celebration on the fourth weekend in January in a colorful spectacle called Dinagyang.
Colorful costumes, captivating drumbeats, and spirited dancing can best describe this festival, but in reality, Dinagyang must be experienced in person. To be in the middle of all of this excitement: to smell the aroma of Filipino food, hear the drums crashing, and to see the visual display of dancing tribes is why I travel.
The main focus of Dinagyang is a religious festival to honor the Santo Nino, but Dinagyang is much more than that. Its a cultural hodgepodge of Roman Catholicism, Animism, and Islam all mixed into one.
This was the second time I have been to Dinagyang and it surely will not be my last. Photographing during large festivals is always a challenge, but that is what makes it all the more exciting. On the other hand, photographing Dinagyang in the Philippines is far more easier that photographing festivals in the United States. For example, there were no restrictions in getting in the middle of the parade route and photographing the different tribes. It was common for spectators to step off the sidewalk and join the tribal dancers for a photo opportunity.
This is what makes Dinagyang so exciting, to be in the middle of all the action and excitement. To be an active participant and not a spectator.
Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography