Faith overcomes pandemic: Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival revels in digital media era

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Published on February 1, 2021

Faith and devotion in the Santo Niño took center stage as Ilonggos celebrated Dinagyang Festival online from the comfort and safety of their homes amid the pandemic.

Smart Communications Inc., the wireless arm of the country’s largest integrated telco PLDT, backed this year’s festivities with the theme of “One Dinagyang: One Iloilo” as Ilonggos continue to embrace community and identity, culture and commerce, courage and hope, and faith and healing.

“We are grateful for the help of our partners, especially Smart, who boosted our connectivity and enabled us to stream the festival,” said IFFI President and lawyer Jobert Peñaflorida.

The January 24 highlight of the festival was streamed online to give Ilonggos and the rest of the country a glimpse of the cultural performances that were presented in film format. It was the first time in the festival’s more than 50-year history that the city streets were empty of performers and the audience.

The online streaming may not have been as grand as the actual dagyang (merrymaking) on the streets, but Ilonggos all over were amazed by the cinematic presentation of the Ati performances. Many beamed with pride at the artistry and creativity of local Ilonggo talents while others toasted and cheered from the comfort of their homes during the online streaming.

Other side events included a religious parade of Santo Niño images, a drumbeating contest, an art mural contest, bike fun ride, and virtual concerts.

Labor of love and collaboration

The Iloilo Festival Foundation Inc. (IFFI), Iloilo City government, the San Jose Parish Church, Ilonggo Artists Festival Association, and various partners including Smart all worked together even as they faced the pandemic’s ever-changing and daunting challenges.

Smart supported several online initiatives such as the #SmartDinagyangNight to spice up the first-ever digital Dinagyang Festival. Among the activities lined up was a virtual concert featuring famous OPM band Hale, Philpop winner Reon and internet sensation Inka Magnaye. Subscribers tuning in from home had chances to win exciting prizes from Smart.

“Dinagyang Digital 2021 has made its mark worldwide after showcasing the Ilonggos’ devotion innovatively and safely during this pandemic,” added Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

PLDT and Smart’s unceasing support for festivals that banner Filipino’s rich culture, heritage and faith is aligned with its goal to empowering their customers’ passion points. Smart has recently partnered with Grammy-nominated K-pop group BTS to banner the 2021 campaign “Live Smarter, Live with Purpose’ which supports Smart’s aim to inspire the Filipino youth to live their lives filled with passion and purpose.

Reinforcing these customer-centric efforts is PLDT and Smart’s fast-tracked rollout of its network across the Philippines. As of December 2020, PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country, comprises more than 429,000 kilometers. This fiber infrastructure supports Smart’s mobile networks, which now cover 96% of the population and is available in 95% of the country’s cities and municipalities.

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