HERE’S a special festival you may want to visit this month.

I was fortunate to be introduced to the beautiful festivals of Negros Occidental during the Panaad Festival a few years back when I was invited by Cristine Mansinares, provincial supervising tourism operations officer. I then became a speaker in their tourism forum “Tourism and the Digital Transformation” and bonded with Cadiz City’s tourism officer Juanily Pedrosa.

Cadiz is just an hour away from Bacolod City. Dinagsa Festival is celebrated every last week of January, a weeklong festivity in honor of its Patron Saint, Señor Sto. Niño de Cadiz. This amazing revelry which originated from the famous Ati-atihan celebrated in different cities features tribal dancers in colorful costumes perform to rhythmic drumbeating fused with religious acts of carrying the image of Sto. Nino as expression of prayer and thanksgiving. The performances were impressive, but the most challenging and most frustrating part was not being able to shoot on the ground as I was busy onstage tallying my scores. My long lens wasn’t enough.

The term “Dinagsa” has an interesting origin, coined after a miraculous occurrence back in 1967 where several dying humpback whales mysteriously beached on the shores of Cadiz, hence “dagsa” referring to the surge of fishes. Cadiz was then declared a chartered city with a whale image as its official seal and became popularly known as “The City of Whales” to this day. These days however, Cadiz is more known for its delicious dried fish.

Here are highlights of the street festivities during the competition, bonding with my fellow judges and the pampering of the tourism office team. The next day, there were more surprises in store as this small town transformed into the biggest party place in the island.

Dinagsa 2020 Street Parade and Competition was scheduled on January 25, 2020.