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Dinagyang day one: hala bira!

Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper


Kasadyahan, day one of the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City (January 21-22), was impressive. The competitors and non-competing participants were champions in their home turfs — Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Guimaras and Iloilo — giving the fete the flavor of Western Visayas.


For the 2,000 or so at the Iloilo Sports Complex (ISC), however, it’s just not their day, the kindest I could write on management, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI).


There were four judging areas in the competition: at the Freedom Grandstand or stage one, at the Capitol stage two, at La Paz and the last, the ISC.


The show was supposed to begin at 8:30 am but kilometric introductions by the emcees, and lengthy speeches at the Freedom Grandstand dragged the ceremonies till past 9 am. 


Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is a premier example of politicians who need to go back to elementary if only to learn to distinguish a cultural presentation from political rallies. His welcome dragged beyond 15 minutes.


IDFI organizers should be sent back to grade one section 10. They may be intelligent, they may have the touch of Midas but they lack one thing that Midas missed when he prayed for a pair of hands that turned everything to gold. They and Midas lacked it: common sense.


They knew ahead that the parade-type of sending performers to individual stages took longer time than the previously practiced carousel where performances were simultaneously done in each judging area by competitors who would later hop to another judging area to another.


At the ISC, viewers viewed nothing. They only had the sound system blaring Dinagyang jingles and a male and female hosts thanking this sponsor-who and donor-what, and recognizing this honorable you-know-who and honorable-so-so.


By 11:30 am the show unreeled which dragged again because organizers stuck to their plan of launching another opening ceremony, first, with the presentation of colors by ROTC cadets, followed by a doxology and another flagraising.


The most infuriating came when one J. P.  Mabilog parroted the kilometric speech he delivered at Freedom Grandstand that he made lengthier with adlibs not found in the speech — naming each guest at the VIP balcony and the blittzers.


He yakked for more than 15 minutes and when done, the microphone was so heated up (nagbagang) that the next speaker, Gov. Arthur D. Defensor Sr, dared not hold it.


Defensor’s delivery was three minutes or less, a slap on Mabilog’s face.


We have smarties at the IDFI and a mayor who loves to hear his own voice  but deaf to the rumblings of the audience many of them missing their breakfast and lunch.


We had lunch at past 3 pm.


Hala Bira at their empty heads in need of re-enrollment in grade one section 10 if only to learn common sense!


More woes.


Eduardo Alfonso, retiree from British Columbia, Canada lost his pen morning of January 21. The thief was a security guard at the Iloilo Sports Complex (ISC), Iloilo City, assigned at the entrance. His wife Ceille nearly lost hers to another.


Noemi (not her real name), a grade schooler, missed her pair of small scissors that same morning. This time the suspect was a police officer, also at the entrance of the ISC. 


The security guards at the ISC were ordered by the police to confiscate “deadly weapons” to include ballpens.


Eduardo meekly surrendered his pen that he brought all the way from Canada. When he exited, the guard was no longer around. The guard issued him no receipt.


Cecille, also a pensioner, refused to yield her pen without a receipt. She argued with a police officer supervising the guards and told him that she would surrender her pen but she would hold the police officer responsible if her pen was lost. “Look at me, am I a terrorist?” she asked. The officer allowed her entrance.


The schoolgirl, about four feet tall, was ruing at the gate when I passed by. She asked for her scissors back but the thief was no longer around.


What happened to the Canadian pensioners and schoolgirl points to one solution: send back to grade one section one the PNP officer and the guards to teach them respect for children and the elderly.

Hala Bira! 



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