Welcome to my Dinagyang Festival 2020 main travel blog post # 1. The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) calls this the country's best tourism event1 and I couldn't agree more. This year, around 500,000 people2 from all over the world came to Iloilo City to witness the grandest Dinagyang to date! Wow. No wonder everywhere I looked all I saw was a sea of people.
What better way to start off my travel blogs but with the calmest parade of them all? Well at least for me the Floats Parade of Lights in Dinagyang Festival is the best for those who can't stand the heat and sweatiness of day parades. This one is held at night. ❤️
Side note: I wasn't able to go to the Fluvial parade and the rest that happened at the start of the week-long celebration. Perhaps that's calmer but I really can't say since I didn't experience it. 😁
Here's a quick event recap as stated in my event overview post:
- Jan. 24, 2020 Friday, Day 1: Floats Parade of Lights & Fireworks Display
- Jan. 25, 2020 Saturday, Day 2: Dagyang sa Calle Real
- Day 2: Lighting Ceremony & Religious Sadsad
- Jan. 26, 2020 Sunday, Day 3: Dinagyang 360°
Hello Iloilo City!
So as I stated in my previous Iloilo travel post, I arrived there on Friday morning, January 24. From Tagbac (or Tagbak) Terminal a fellow bus/roro traveler and I apparently was going almost the same way so we were advised to take a taxi going to our destination and split the bill.
The taxi driver of course asked for additional fee to the fare aside from the meter rate. Pffft. We just went with it because we were both tired and we're new to the place. 🙄
There was no traffic going to Iloilo City Proper. When we got there, we found out the roads were mostly closed so he took us around thinking he could get us closer to my destination home for a few days. Of course I was checking Google Maps every so often. To cut the long story short, I got off about an hour or so later and paid my half of the fare, P200+.
My Iloilo City Home for 4 Days
Of course while in the taxi I already asked the place I was gonna stay where I would drop off. That place was what I told the driver and it would be my destination since all roads inside the Dinagyang related areas are closed off to vehicles.
Guess where the taxi driver dropped me off? Well, look at that, nice to see a familiar thing in an unfamiliar place!
Maybe Robinsons (malls) and I are meant to be. Haha. Kidding. Too bad there are no Robinsons Land properties in Iloilo City yet. Would have gone and checked if there were. Anyway, off I went to walk a few meters to my new abode.
Look, the streets already had several vendors selling a variety of things. I didn't buy much, not even souvenirs, but I took pictures in the next two days. 😅
Most Affordable Peak Room Rate
Anyway, because it was peak season, the room rate I got wasn't as low as usual. Normally it's around P400 or so. Anyway it was the cheapest I found thru Facebook travel groups so why not? At least I got a discount from the card I used so I saved a few hundred pesos. I booked 4 days via the online link the establishment gave me.
As you can see, the daily rate (inclusive of tax) was P772.50. Thanks to the coupon for using a certain card, I got a discount! Hurray! So I was able to save a bit and it made me feel better. Hehe.
So here's the bed and there's also a cabinet and table to put my things in.
Pretty good for a short stay. Doesn't need to be fancy or spacious for me at all since I wasn't staying indoors for too long anyway.
Guess why else I chose the place? Of course it has WiFi included in the price! Haha. Won't go anywhere without it. Even if I had a data plan, it's still better to use faster internet.
Now what? Of course after taking pictures and fixing my stuff and freshening up, it was time to rest and sleep before I went around town.
Let's Go to the Dinagyang Floats Parade of Lights Location!
After a good 4 hours or so of sleep, I freshened up, changed clothes and down the 5 storeys of transient rooms I went. On the 2nd floor reception area, I asked the one behind the counter how I could get to where the floats parade were.
Since there are four locations indicated in the map, I also asked which one is the best to watch the event from. She told me it's better to go to Iloilo Business Park. Armed with that knowledge off I went to walk to the jeepney route, a block or so away.
When I got to the side of the street, I didn't know which jeepney to ride. Haha. So I asked around and was told to ride one with the sign saying SM or Mandurriao. Of course since I don't speak Hiligaynon (Ilonggo language) I was relieved that people also spoke Tagalog (basis language of Filipino) around here. Amazing!
Anyway I dunno if I got it all mixed up even if they conversed with me in Tagalog but I eventually ended up riding a jeepney with a driver who didn't know about where I was going. Ugh. 😑 No wonder he spoke Tagalog like me. I even said where I was getting off when I paid but no one even told me I was on the wrong jeepney. Huhu.
Good thing I had mobile data, I was checking the route on Google Maps and wondered why the vehicle was already turning back to where we came from past SM City Iloilo. WTH? I ended up getting off before we got to SM Iloilo. Man. Megaworld (what they actually call Iloilo Business Park) was a long way to walk and time was running out. Well I still had ample time to get there but heck it stressed me out having to alight at the wrong place.
I even thought maybe I should just stay there and wait 'til it started. As I looked around for a good spot, I could see why the receptionist did not recommend the area even if it was one of the judging places.
No adventure goes without a hitch so I just stopped focusing on the negative to move forward and cross the street. At the overpass I saw some of the floats were already there so I took some pictures. Hehe.
After taking some photos and crossing the overpass I saw there were other people waiting to ride jeepneys going the direction I was going. 😅 No different than Metro Manila, people were also having a hard time getting a ride since most of the public vehicles passing by were already full.
Okay, why not take another picture?
By the way, the basic Iloilo City jeepney fare is P8, just a peso off the Metro Manila rate. Good enough for me, easier to go around by jeepney than walking great distances.
So anyway, I think it took me 20 minutes or more before I could ride one with enough space to sit in. It was that bad because there were a lot of people in Iloilo City. 500,000 tourists like me, hello?
Finally, Iloilo Business Park and Festive Walk Mall!
Anyway there was no traffic along the way, I even saw a rainbow colored bridge I couldn't take a picture of because it's so touristy and the jeepney was full of strangers. 😅 (Eh, I think I was able to take a picture when I went there the second time on another day so it's fine.) There was a bit of build up at Iloilo Business Park though. I didn't know which part of the strip I should get off so I just hopped off at what I think is the second stop, a little past the Festive Walk Mall.
Hey look, right across is a parking... building?
Oh well nevermind that, let's take a quick look at the entrance and what's inside the mall shall we?
Upon entering the first thing I saw were Dinagyang T-shirts. Haha. Well so I bought one for myself and a friend.
Next I had to go to the restroom then I checked out the walkway bridge between malls to see if it's a good spot to take pictures and videos or not.
When I got up there, it didn't look like a good place to be during the parade. View was too far and it sure would feel distant from the parade itself. What's the point of being here if I would watch from a distance, right? So back down and out the mall I went to find the perfect spot.
It was almost 6 pm so I had to find the best place to watch and take videos before too many people got there. Hehe. I decided to stay in front of the big and popular fast food restaurant and ended up waiting for an hour or so.
Look at all these people waiting with me.
At first it was just a small crowd. It was already 6 pm and yet there was still no sign of any of the floats. I didn't think there would be a lot more people the longer I waited. 😅 By the time we heard drum sounds and saw bright lights look how many humans were waiting along the street!
Here it is! The Dinagyang Festival 2020: Floats Parade of Lights!
The parade started and floats came by at a few minutes before 7:30 pm. What should I expect, it started in another venue farther than SM Iloilo so of course it would arrive much later at where I was. 🤦
When the first group of brightly lit people started dancing in the street boy did I realize I was at the wrong spot.
Very wrong indeed. Based on the two video screenshots above you can see how far I was. No time to waste I still took videos and pictures of me with the distant "moving lights".
Eventually since I could see there's really no way for me to get good shots at where I was, I moved to the stage area itself. Good thing I have no issues with being in big crowds. Lol.
Really felt like a stranger in a strange land but still on familiar territory like I didn't even leave Metro Manila. Haha. There were lots of people, local and not, and I had no idea where the best viewing spot was. I only realized it was indeed the stage area where I should have gone first, as indicated in the graphics above. I mean, come on, don't get old on me my brain. 😂
When I got to the right spot I took a few pictures and resumed taking videos too. Here's two photos of Tribu Siga-Siga street performers.
It's really great to stay near the judging area, you get to see everything up close and the spotlight makes everything look bright too even if it's already nighttime. Hehehe. I only have a few pics because I mostly took videos of each group passing by. 😄
Watch my whole coverage for a more complete appreciation.
Wasn't that fun? Guess which one won the best float prize? 😄
Here are the winners3 with screenshots from my video compilation above 😊:
FLOATS PARADE OF LIGHTS WINNERS
- Best Lighted Float (P300,000 cash prize and trophy) – International Pharmaceutical, Inc.
- 1st runner-up (P200,000 cash prize and trophy) – M Lhuillier
- 2nd runner-up (P180,000 cash prize and trophy) – Mega Sardines
Too bad the Bureau of Fisheries And Aquatic Resources (BFAR) float didn't win anything. It was kinda amusing to see a "big boat" with 2 fishermen on top. 😆 Talk about the effort of paddling on air. Haha.
Looks like I forgot to include the fireworks display at the end of the parade so here's a separate video compilation instead. 😊
What Happened Next?
Before going home I decided to pass by the Megaworld Iloilo properties to have a look at them. I actually took the video of the fireworks on their compound/parking area. Haha.
Of course I'm a real estate agent under a broker (at the time) so I didn't pass up the chance to look into the details of it. I'd love to post about each one but I'll just show you these two photos for the meantime.
I got the details on all the residential properties, even the preselling hotel investment. Hehe. Sadly I wasn't able to meet anyone there to bring in and assist at the show room. Guess why? I was on vacation and wasn't really gonna stay long enough to work and talk to people.
Anyway after finding out everything it was finally time to go home. Well of course I had to travel back to where I temporarily lived right? It was already 9 pm by that time and the guy who assisted me said jeepneys won't be available anymore. Oh well. I had no choice but to hail a taxi to Robinsons Iloilo again. That cost around... P80 to P100 I think, with no extra charge. Yay.
And so once I got home, I compiled the videos, put some text/watermark and uploaded it immediately! Oh the WiFi was that fast. I love how quick it was. Haha. And that is why I slept late and wasn't able to go see the next event early in the morning. My bad. Either way, all's well that ends well.
Why Do I Consider This as The Calmest of Them All?
In case you've never been to Dinagyang Festival you will not be aware of how "calm" this is as compared to the next events. To give you an idea, it's better for those who can't stand the heat of the sun and moving around to watch or standing for a long time just to take photos and videos of everything and everyone passing by. This was more than an hour long, including the fireworks at the end.
Even if it's "just a parade" for some people, it is still enjoyable to see performers dancing in the street and wearing costumes with bright lights all around. Most of the floats are not a waste of time to see too. There's just something about the Floats Parade of Lights that makes one entertained.
Should you decide to take part in the festivities next year, make sure to really plan on what you will do based on the itineraries provided by the event organizers. Prepare yourselves and be alert so you will be able to watch the parade to your heart's content. 😁
Up next is one of the highlights of the week long celebration! Stay tuned for my next travel post!
What do you think of Dinagyang Festival 2020 so far? Feel free to share below!
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