Dinagyang Festival wins Galing Pook Award (Photo by Galing Pook Foundation)
The spate of awards that comes Dinagyang’s way was not merely borne out of coincidence or luck but a result of deliberate efforts and years of commitment to excellence by the people who worked hard to make the festival the country’s hall of famer as best tourism event.
The year 2013 was another banner year for Iloilo City. On its Sapphire Anniversary – 45th year (est. 1968) – the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival bagged one of the most prestigious national recognitions, the 2012 Galing Pook Award for innovative and exemplary local governance program.
In a congratulatory letter received by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog from the Galing Pook Foundation, it cited Iloilo City’s program entry entitled “Community Participation and Collaborative Governance through the Dinagyang Festival” was chosen as one of the Top 10 outstanding local governance programs.
The awarding was held in Malacanan with no less than President Benigno S. Aquino III handing out the awards on January 30, 2013.
Only 16 out of the 160 projects submitted were chosen by the National Selection Committee as finalists for the Galing Pook Awards 2012. The award-giving body selects 10 best projects which have great positive impact on the community, promote people’s participation and empowerment, introduce innovation, and manifest transferability and sustainability,
Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival was the first festival to be recognized as outstanding governance project in a search which spans for almost two decades but had never bestowed honor to a cultural endeavor.
The cream of the crop included eight projects in Luzon and four each in Visayas and Mindanao. There are five about the environment, three for education, four on public service, one on health, one for entrepreneurship, one on tourism development, and the Dinagyang festival.
All the 16 local government unit finalists were invited for the panel presentation and interview by the Galing Pook Foundation. It was held at the Social Development Complex Conference Hall at the Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, where local chief executives made the presentations. Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog did the report for Dinagyang to the members of the National Selection Board. He was joined by your truly, Iloilo Business Club Executive Director Lea Lara, and Iloilo City High School Principal Blesilda Floro who sat as members of the project report team.
The report focused on four impacts – governance and administration, economic, socio-cultural and environment. The festival’s contribution to community development, the public-private partnership and the multi-sector participation were tackled in governance. Economic activities that create livelihood and additional jobs, increase in tourist arrivals and receipts, the underground economy and other services, and tourism promotions were elements of the economic impact.
The socio-cultural impact are seen in the cultural exchange with places where Dinagyang visited, learning the value of team work and discipline, pride and prestige felt by family of participants, recall of history and faith, sense of pride of place and cultural identity, the value of competition, the pursuit of innovation and excellence, and the entertainment delivered.
There are environmental advocacies the festival pushes such as the use of recycled materials for the costumes of performers, indigenous musical instruments, sanitation and efficient garbage collections.
There were questions asked by the panel about what makes Dinagyang different from and what lessons could it share with other festivals. Of course, the successful partnership between government and the private sectors makes it apart and above the rest; it is Iloilo City’s governance pitch and a cohesive bond that unites the community. Other festivals should learn from the successful collaboration of the City government, the Dinagyang Foundation and the San Jose Church. Most festivals are operated by the LGUs without the cooperation of the private sectors which usually stay contented as mere fence-sitters.
There is imposition of accountability in the conduct of the event. Since it is IDFI which handles fund, it is required to submit an audited financial report to the City council within ninety days after the end of the festival. Another lesson that other festivals must learn from Dinagyang is the aggressive marketing and promotion activities undertaken for those outside of the locality. The marketing committee produces posters which are distributed all over the country. Posters are mounted in malls and other town centers; in airports and bus terminals; in MRT and LRT stations in Metro Manila. There was a time when tribes gave performances around town and Dagoy, the mascot joined the marketing team in mall tours.
The promotional activities of Dinagyang do not just happen during the festival; it has become a year-round program. Preparation for the next January celebration starts immediately after the thanksgiving mass for the just concluded edition. The annual plan of action includes participation in the national streetdance competition, MBC’s Aliwan Fiesta; goodwill performances in various local, national, and international gatherings, in opening ceremonies and inaugurations, during important national days of foreign embassies in Manila and Filipino communities abroad; and even in the other festivals outside of Iloilo.
Galing Pook participation was indeed a great challenge. Iloilo City entered a number of projects but only Dinagyang made it as finalist. There were 160 entries submitted and they started screening to choose semi-finalists for site validation because Galing Pook does not just rely on the written reports. Dr. Edna Co, member of the National Selection Committee came to Iloilo for the Dinagyang validation September 28th.
Dr. Co went to see the Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III (Mayor Mabilog was in Singapore at that time), yours truly, IDFI trustee Edwin Trompeta at the City Hall for the participation of the City Government; met with Fr. Raymund Alcayaga at the Cofradia Office together with Ms. Malene Santiago of Tribu Atub-Atub, Dominador Rivera, and IDFI trustee Fred Tayo III for the religious activities; and at the Freedom Grandstand Office, met with Iloilo Business Club’s Lea Lara, DepEd’s Blesilda Floro, IDFI’s Marissa Segovia for business and school involvement with the festival.
A letter on the findings of the site validation and recommendations advised to repackage the program: to show that what has been a traditionally socio-religious, cultural activity has been transformed into a good collaborative governance project where the city took a central role in trying to steer everyone and draw everyone in the preparation for and up to the implementation of the festival; to emphasize it as a year-round collaborative governance program culminating at the event; to underscore data on economic activities generated (especially those that continue throughout the year); ancillary business that developed as a result of the festival.
It also suggested to highlight growth in government revenues, spillover gains, and innovations; to show the economic impact using assumptions on projected expense of the number of visitors; to showcase the established relationship with sponsors with sustained assistance – indication that we delivered what was promised; that there is fair competition because rules are clear, no special favors, and every participant is treated equally and objectively.
With this recognition, we have earned bragging rights and reasons to be proud as Ilonggos. With this award comes the responsibility to live up to be good examples for others.