ILOILO CITY, Iloilo (PNA) - President Benigno S. Aquino III is calling on Ilonggos, along with the rest of the nation, to be a united people.
In his message to Ilonggos delivered for him by former Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. during the Dinagyang Festival on Sunday, January 27, the President told the some 1.5 million people who attended the festival that "we have proven time and again, that nothing is impossible to a determined and united people. We have proven that in the face of challenges, we Filipinos can hold our heads high and smile.
This festival reminds us what it means to be a Filipino, to be kindhearted, optimistic and persevering. Let us never forget that we are one nation."
The President said the Dinagyang Festival is a going back to the "essence of the Filipino's national identity and heritage giving Ilonggos an "understanding of our society which is vital if we are to move forward together as one nation."
He underlined the role of public service as "not for political survival, or transactionalism and corruption. It is the end-all and be all of government."
"We righted the wrong and mended the wounds in the national psyche and the social programs, empowered the people so that they too can help uplift the lives of others."
The Dinagyang Festival celebrated its 45th anniversary this year and the highlights includes the Ati-Atihan competition. Present were the Ambassadors of Australia, Brunei, Nigeria and South Korea. Also there were Senators Franklin M. Drilon and Ramon Revilla, Jr., former senators Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, senatoriables Riza Baraquel, Cynthia Villar and Jamby Madrigal, city mayors of Guam, USA, several mayors of the League of Cities of the Philippines, numerous Philippine actors and actresses and officials of global non-government organizations, Philippine movie and television actors and actresses and other celebrities. Dinagyang Festival Hailed As "Exceptional"
Meanwhile, Canadian photographer Luke Myers who took part in the Dinagyang Festival described the latter as "really exceptional with the very energetic performances of the tribes and their colorful costumes."
Myers said he has been to other parts of the country to witness their festivals but said he considers Dinagyang of Iloilo as "the best for photography."
He also said efficient and orderly security carried out during the festival gave photographers like him a chance to get amazing pictures of the tribes.
"We were allowed here to get closer to the action," Myers explained. He has been assigned for two days in Stage 2, of the Kasadyahan Festival Regional Cultural Competition last Saturday and the Ati-atihan Competition Sunday.
Stage 2 was sponsored by the Iloilo provincial government headed by Gov. Arthur Defensor, Sr. In this stage, photographers and media covering the two-day highlights of the festivity were given designated areas and seats.
Myers said he will invite his fellow Canadians to come over next year to witness the festival for themselves. "I have been promoting the event to them," Myers said while adding that those interested to come next year must secure their booking reservations because of the huge influx of people going to Iloilo for the festival.