In the Philippines, January is full of festivals and fiestas like the Sinulog, Black Nazarene, Ati-Atihan, Pasungay, and Dinagyang— the month is actually known to be one of the months with the most number of festivals!
And while the COVID-19 pandemic may have altered how we celebrate special events, it surely hasn’t dampened the festive spirits of the Filipino. As matter of fact, for this week, the Dinagyang Festival is in full force for its 2021 celebration— digitally, of course! (Read: 3 Saint Medals You Can Gift to Your Loved Ones)
The Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo is celebrated in honor of Señor Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus. But in light of the pandemic, and in observation of health protocols, the annual festival will be going digital this year. Dubbed as ‘Dinagyang Digital 2021’, the celebrations will all be held virtually— including all contests, pageants, and fairs.
Rabiya Mateo as Festival Host
And who better to be the face of this year’s festivities other than Miss Universe Philippines 2020 herself, Rabiya Mateo! Joined by actor Rocco Nacino, the beauty queen will be hosting the events that will be held during the week-long full-blown celebration of Dinagyang. (Read: How Beauty Pageants Inspire Us to Handle Defeat Graciously)
Rabiya was born to an Indian-American father and Filipino mother in Balasan, Iloilo where she grew up ‘in poverty’. She graduated cum laude from the Iloilo Doctors’ College with a degree in Physical Therapy. During her homecoming after the pageant, fellow Ilonggos and Ilonggas were overwhelmingly proud of Rabiya, and called her a ‘glimmer of hope‘ in these times.
But even before winning the crown, Rabiya has always been in the service of her province. An advocate for education, the Miss Universe Philippines has been supporting the “Feed Me, I Read You” program in Iloilo which helps children living in dumpsites, called the “Smokey Mountain of Iloilo.” (Read: 5 Pinay Beauty Queens Who Are Leading the Fight Against COVID-19)
“This project is close to my heart because I see myself in the kids I’m helping,” she said during the Q&A portion of the pageant.
Digital Dinagyang 2021
For those who want to join the Dinagyang festivities, here is the schedule for the remaining events:
- January 18-24: Dinagyang Trade Fair at SM City Iloilo
- January 22: Sto. Niño Religious Motorcade
- January 22-24: Dinagyang Online Food Fest
- January 23: Dinagyang sa Calle (livestream at iloilofestivals.com)
- January 23: Dinagyang Warrior Fashion Show at Festive Mall
- January 23: Virtual Religious Sadsad at San Jose Parish
- January 24: Virtual Dinagyang Mass at San Jose Parish
- January 24: One Dinagyang Digital
- January 24: Virtual Awarding Ceremony
For more updates, you may check the Dinagyang Festival Facebook page.