POTOTAN, Iloilo -- Colorful festival costumes made by persons deprived of liberty (PDL) will be worn by festival tribes in the coming Dinagyang 2020 in Iloilo City.
Different tribes will show their choreographed dance this coming January 24 to 25, 2020 as the city celebrates Dinagyang Festival with the theme “Perfect Vision: Celebrating the Ilonggo Spirit in Honor of Senior Sto. Niño."
A total of 17 tribes from different high schools and barangays of Iloilo that will show their different performances on Saturday, January 24, and on Sunday, January 25.
With their performance, they will wear colorful indigenous costumes and different artistic headdress made by PDLs that will package the total experience of the spectators of what Dinagyang 2020 is.
Two different sets of tribe performances will be seen on January 24 and 25 - the Daygang sa Call Real, a "Sad-sad" Barangay Tribes Street Dancing on January 24th and the highlight which is the Dinagyang 36-degree Tribes Competition on January 25th.
Most of these tribes will wear the costumes made by the PDLs of the Iloilo District Jail (IDJ) in Barangay Nanga, formerly known as the Iloilo Provincial Jail (IPJ).
Female inmates weaved the “hablon,” a traditional handwoven Panay cloth that will be used as costumes.
About 55 of the 110 inmates were trained as weavers by the Miag-ao Weavers Association, which also donated four weaving looms so they can earn while in prison. This becomes their livelihood as inmates.
The rest of the female inmates made bead necklace as additional props.
The target of the inmate weavers is to make "patadyong" or wrap-around loose skirt worn by Filipino women during the pre-Spanish time for the tribes of Dinagyang 2020.
This hablon will also be turned into chaleco and parts of the tribe costumes.
IDJ female dormitory Jail Warden Senior Inspector Imee Lopera told SunStar Philippines this is a livelihood for the female inmate of the IDJ.
"Half of the populations of the female PDL are trained weaver, while others do beadworks," Lopera said.
Lopera said people from Iloilo Festival Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) get a finished hablon product.
On September 29, 2019, female inmates received their certificates as trained hablon weavers after the five-day training from Criselda Fagarita of the Miagao Weavers Association through the effort of Ma. Rosalie Zerrudo.
"Che," a female inmate said she was happy that they were trained to become weavers as this will serve as their livelihood while inside the jail facility.
"We were given four wooden weaving looms so we can practice while earning and most of us are scheduled to use this so that most of the women here (IDJ) know how to use it and earn from it," Che said in Hiligaynon.
The four wooden weaving looms, Lopera said, will remain at the IDJ after Dinagyang 2020 so it will be used by the female PDLs for their livelihood.
For the male PDLs, they are working on the headdress that will be used by Dinagyang 2020 tribes.
Different headdresses are being assembled in a vacant male inmate dormitory. From construction, assembly and painting, each headdress is meticulously done by the inmates who have expertise in the fields of painting, tailoring, and other prop-making industry.
"Toto," a PDL painter said he used to be a propsman in one of the tribes during the previous Dinaygang festivals. Now, he is painting the different designs of the headdresses of the upcoming Dinagyang 2020.
Toto would not tell how much he actually earns but said he is happy that they have income since part of their earnings are also shared with the other inmates through an organization they have inside the jail facility.
"This is one way of showing our talents while we are inside and we are not considered outcasts of the society," Toto said in local language.
Jail facilities in Iloilo, both in IDJ and Iloilo City District Jail have been tapped by the different organizations, foundations, and even local government units to make use of the artistic ability of the inmates. (SunStar Philippines)