Kasadyahan sa Dinagyang: Western Visayas’ Best Fiestas in One!
For most of its history, Kasadyahan is a cultural-dance performance showdown that is the warm-up for the upcoming Dinagyang Festival climax in Iloilo City. Back then, most of the performances were from contingents that depict the Ilonggo or Panayanon “mainstream” culture through dance. Then later, it became “festival of Iloilo festivals” as the town fiestas of the province of Iloilo compete and showcase their town’s best.
Yet this 2012, it simply went beyond—it went to become Western Visayas’ regional festival of festivals! Something that has never been done almost half-a-decade! The best fiestas converge in Iloilo that Saturday, including the “mother of all Philippine street dance festivals,” Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan, and Bacolod’s MassKara Festival. It was an unexpected development.
Kasadyahan is a Hiligaynon/Ilonggo term meaning “to make merry” or “celebration,” synonymous to the root word of Dinagyang. It is indeed a celebration of life and culture of the people of Western Visayas.
Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao, Iloilo won as the champion for this year’s Kasadyahan. Fiery emotions coming from the members and making the old Moro-Moro plays of the Spanish colonial era adapted to the present cultural-dance drama, has made it remarkable. Also, the history of the town and its most precious treasure, the World Heritage Site of Iglesia de Santo Tomas de Villanueva, the patadyong and hablon—all synonymous to the town, were depicted.
Meanwhile, Tribu Mandaragat of Antique depicted fisheries as one of Antique’s main produce and income.
Hubon Sinulog sa Oracon of Sibunag, Guimaras meanwhile displayed the island’s known “mango colours” of green and yellow, as they danced their way of life, the province’s main produce “mango” and the festive atmosphere living in a simple countryside community.
Sinadya sa Halaran of Roxas City, Capiz showcased their rich aquaculture and fisheries resources through the movements and the beat of the drums. Notable was the big prawn.
The mainstay of the Kasadyahan Festival is Tribu Maragtas of West Visayas State University. In today’s standards, this contingent is unique for not going to the trend of fast-paced drum beats and dance. Instead, they maintained a cultural show depicting various aspects of Panayanon or Ilonggo culture and praises to the Señor Santo Niño.
Sigabong sang mga Kanyon from Bago City in Negros Occidental offers a glimpse of plantation lifestyle and the amakan cannons that were used to scare the Spanish colonial authorities during the Cinco de Noviembre event in 1898. This contingent though shot a loud bang during the festivities.
Palayag sa Buenavista of Guimaras offered a glimpse of Moro-Moro and the Ati culture.
Reminiscent of MassKara is Hugyaw Kansilay of Silay City, Negros Occidental, also joined the Kasadyahan.
And Tribu Panguyang, also from Antique Province, dance their way in depicting the Panayanon rituals of Panguyang or offering goods to spirits–a heritage from pre-Hispanic Panayanons and giving emphasis on shamans or babaylanes.
Kasadyahan became a mardi-gras when visitors from Bacolod City graced the event with its famed “dancing smiling masks” of MassKara Festival, held every October.
Kahilwayan Festival of Santa Barbara, Iloilo came back with its cry for independence and stunts on bamboo in which they became famous all throughout the archipelago. It is uniquely one of the few street dance and dance-cultural shows depicting a historical battle between the revolucionarios (in Panay its Ejercito Libertador, not Katipunan) and the Spanish colonial forces.
However, it was a sentimental and joyous ending for Kasadyahan as “The Mother of Dinagyang” herself made her way back to Iloilo City’s streets, after for so long. Kalibo Ati-Atihan made their sadsad (street dancing) with its hypnotic drumbeats and simple choreography. It was indeed “a back to the roots” for this Dinagyang season.
In the 1960s, upon the arrival of Señor Santo Niño de Cebú at Iloilo, Ati warriors danced around Plaza Libertad in joy and celebration. The authorities back then even have to bring Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan dancers to grace the event. The Ilonggo oldies remember the old sadsad days, way before fast-paced choreography and spectator-fest Dinagyang came to be. It was indeed a great day as the crowd swelled and joined the revelers. I like this group to come back next year. I’m happy too since it was my taste of what it means to be in Ati-Atihan (spent several years in Panay Island but never been to Ati-Atihan since it hits during mid-terms back at college).
Like Dinagyang, Kasadyahan has evolved from a simple “warm-up” cultural performance, into a regional fiesta of fiestas in the fiesta isles of Western Visayas. Truly depicting on how it is More Fun here in the Philippines!