|Iloilo City's Dinagyang winner in New York|
As the 32-strong Dinagyang Festival dancers and drummers made their thumping and weaving choreography down the avenue to the shrieks and screams of onlookers running along and on the sidewalks, Dinagyang drums kept the pace booming up and down the concrete canyons of the greatest city in the world.
“It’s an infectious experience I’ve never felt before,” was another spectator’s comment as she tried to keep pace following at the heels of the costumed Dinagyang drummers and dancers.
And the merriment continued later in the day as the Dinagyang Festival put in another rousing performance during PIDCI’s afternoon Cultural Festival on the open stage just north of 23rd Street on Madison Avenue. Once again the shrieks and screams reverberated at the downtown end of the avenue and west through Madison Square Park all the way through the intersecting Fifth Avenue and Broadway.
If you ask Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, who heads the delegation, he’ll tell you that the Dinagyang Festival has become some sort of an international phenomenon, especially after winning the Grand Slam Award of the “Aliwan” Festival in Manila. Aliwan is likened to the Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro. It is held annually in Manila, Philippines with winning festivals from the outlying provinces and cities invited to compete for the Grand Slam prize.
And as the day wore on, the crowd on Madison Avenue, enjoying the upper 70’s-degree weather, savored the other major events of PIDCI’s Philippine Independence Day—the all-day Street Fair, from 24th Street to 26th Street—a block-long Food Festival and another block-long Mini-Expo; and the afternoon Cultural Festival that also showcased the Independence Day Parade Guest of Honor, Philippine Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, who was accompanied by Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Philippine consul General in New York, Ambassador Mario L. de Leon, Jr. and invited celebrities from the Philippines Jericho and Karyll who sang a few songs on the stage to wind up the day’s festivities.
PIDCI President Joji Jalandoni announced and invited everyone to the next and culminating event of the 113th Anniversary Commemoration of Philippine Independence – the annual Philippine Independence Ball, at the New York Hilton Hotel at 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019, on Saturday, June 11 from 7pm to 1am of the following day – Philippine Independence Day.
“Get ready to be thrilled by more Dinagyang Festival dances,” she promised.