Dinagyang Festival Fever

Every Ilonggo has been anticipating the most-awaited Dinagyang Festival ever since that first drumbeat was heard during their practices a few months ago. Now, people are still hungover from the city-wide fever that the many activities the event has hosted – food, non-stop parties, fireworks, and religious celebrations.

Last Sunday, I was able to witness that famous event again and I was literally a meter away from the performance area. Talk about up-close, my ears were blasted with the loud drums and chimes behind me – the adrenaline was pretty much consistent from morning until noon. Truly, it was another different experience compared to my previous “merry-making” in the streets of Iloilo City.

I was actually planning on “live painting” during the whole performance but I found it too impossible to do as the dancers will be moving way too fast. (An abstract work might fit well in that case – haha!) So I purposely left my brushes and paint tubes at home.

Beautiful blue costume of the warriors in Tribu Atub-Atub.

Beautiful blue costume of the warriors in Tribu Atub-Atub.

The challenge now was to set aside my fleeting thoughts of painting and jump over to the more technical aspect of making good use of a manual camera – something that I found quite difficult to do as shutter speeds, focal lengths, ISOs and apertures are like chemical engineering to me.

Transitioning from my natural state of holding a brush and blending in colors on paper to adjusting the complicated knobs of a bulky camera and pressing the big black shiny button made me sweat profusely.

When the first tribe on our area was performing, my colors were dim and the warriors’ faces were blurred. I was panicking – but not everybody knows that because I was seated together with the “cool” media people with large zoom lenses. I played it cool and kept on adjusting the settings (even if it took me an hour to get it right!).

The fiery tribe warrior of Salognon.

The fiery tribe warrior of Salognon.

Hey, I’m just a person who paints with watercolor – yes, the ones that children use in their art class.

It was eight long years since I last held on to a manual camera. Eight years ago, I was using 36-shots colored film. Yes, it was such a technological “culture shock” to me as I was used to idiot-proof point and shoots (which makes documenting much easier). Here’s to another challenge to face then! I am completely challenged by this manual camera thingy – lol.

Dinagyang Festival is one of the reasons why I love Iloilo so much. That’s why I painted this piece with a warrior and his cool head dress shouting during their performance. An artwork that no blurred photograph could ever replace – haha!

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