THE Iloilo City Government may allot a day for the Indigenous People (IP) as one of the events during the Dinagyang Festival to give recognition to Aetas believed to be the first settlers of Panay Island.

The allocation of an IP Day for the group was among the recommendations during the post-Dinagyang assessment facilitated by Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog together with the local media Monday, January 23.

“Dinagyang is all about them as well, aside from giving honor to Señor Santo Niño. It is good to have a day exclusive for the IPs,” he said.

The IP Day will allow Aetas to showcase their culture and practices before the public.

The Aetas were believed to be the first group that embraced Catholicism.

The Dinagyang Festival’s Ati tribe competition showcases various interpretations of how this group of IP that used to venerate objects surrounding them turned their faith to Señor Santo Niño.

Meanwhile, Mabilog also announced the festival has already received five invitations to perform this year.

These include the invitation to compete in the Aliwan Fiesta of the Manila Broadcasting Company; to perform during the Philippine Independence Day celebration in Sydney, Australia this June; Quebec, Canada in August; Anseong, South Korea either in August or September and Santa Parade Auckland, New Zealand in November.

The mayor said the invitations are manifestations that the festival is really getting more popular.

He added visitors of this year’s event claimed that they have been to other festivals but they have witnessed “how nice and how good” the Dinagyang Festival was.

The City Government is also hoping the proposed construction of the 5,000 seater grandstand will get started so that more people will be accommodated in time for the festival’s 50th year in 2018.

The new grandstand will be built facing the Iloilo River in a property now owned by the Panay Railway. Negotiation is underway for the acquisition of the site, Mabilog said. (PNA)