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Dinagyang Festival is one of Iloilo City’s (where our VMAs are based) most popular festivals in the country, celebrating the culture and spiritual devotion of the people or Ilonggos. Picture street parades of the different performing tribes in colorful indigenous outfits and showcasing ethnic dance-offs with the thundering drum beats. This is what Dinagyang stands for: merrymaking. And this makes the festival the grandest in the city, attracting local and foreign tourists to be a part of this unique cultural experience.

But as the city grapples with COVID-19, nobody can’t have much of the fun. However, Ilonggos continue to work together to get their lives back on track. This includes their faith and devotion to their heritage manifested in the staging of the virtual Dinagyang. No live street parades of performers in stunning native regalia, no live drumming, and no spectators getting in on the fun. For the first time, the festival is held online in an impressive pre-recorded video production available for live-stream across the globe.

The seven competing groups or tribes performed in different landmarks all over the city — a cinematic arrangement of the colors and vibe of the dance competition while offering a heritage tour new normal style. Other complementary activities that were broadcasted online included an art mural contest, virtual concerts, bike fun ride, a drum beating contest, food fest, and lots more.

Virtual Dinagyang 2021 is a testament of Ilonggos’ resilience. The pandemic may have altered our way of life, but the steadfast devotion of Ilonggos to their faith and that within each one of us is a warrior whose strength fuels us forward. This online celebration gave us hope that we can make progress if we cooperate, unite, and have faith that everything will bounce back to normal.

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Liezel holds a degree in Literature and has years of experience in remotely mentoring foreign students to speak English. Her academic involvement also includes writing and editing learning materials and content. Her distance learning profession cultivated her competency in communication, management, research, and technology.
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