Dinagsa Festival


Dinagsa Festival's

Lamhitanay sa Dalan

Apart from being one of Negros Occidental’s hubs for agro-fishery, Cadiz City stands loud and proud with the booming popularity of its annual Dinagsa Festival, paying homage to the Sto. Niño de Cadiz. This vibrant and culturally rich event is a direct manifestation of the community’s colorful identity that sets Cadiz apart from the rest of the Philippines. The main highlight of the celebration, whose popularity has been exponentially growing year after year, happens at “Lamhitanay sa Dalan”, an enormous city-wide paint party where festival-goers smear each other (hence, lamhitanay) with water-based paint. With a significant rise in tourism during this period, Cadiz continues to evolve along with this age-old religious tradition and its newfound fame.

Cadiz Mayor Salvador G. Escalante, Jr., delves deep into the history and origins of the Dinagsa Festival. “Before, our fiesta was called Cadiz Ati-Atihan. But elsewhere in the Philippines, there are also Ati-Atihan festivals.” Faced with the challenge of differentiating itself, then-Governor Joseph Maranon proposed that each city give its festival a distinct identity.

The city, full of colors.

In 2002, the annual revelry was renamed Dinagsa Festival. The choice was inspired by a unique event – the landing of 12 whales on Cadiz shores in 1967. The root word “dagsa” is Hiligaynon for “coming together”. In the case of the whales, Negrenses of all ages came together, in throngs, to see the phenomenon. Today, greater throngs come, this time to dance on the streets of Cadiz City.

Sto. Niño devotees from around the country and tourists from all over the world gather in Cadiz for this joyful year-starter, highlighted by a fluvial parade bearing the image of Sto. Niño de Cadiz. Mayor Escalante proudly recalls a time when around one million participants filled the streets which, notwithstanding the huge logistical challenge it posed, was a testament to the festival's popularity and significance.

Sto.Niño de Cadiz.

The evolution of the Dinagsa Festival took an unexpected turn with the introduction of Lamhitanay sa Dalan, the paint festival. As a carried-over tradition of smearing each other, Mayor Escalante explains that the shift from the use of a charcoal and grease concoction to simulate the traditional dark skin of the Sto. Niño, to a water-based, multi-colored paint was initiated by a group from outside Cadiz. This revolutionized Dinagsa into one of the biggest paint parties globally, now with a pending application to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Citizens honoring the Sto. Niño and competitors dancing on the streets.

Cadiz Tourism Officer Julie Grace Batisla-on Dominguez shared that although the festival is rooted to religion and culture, the paint party has become an integral part to embracing a more vibrant and dynamic dimension to Dinagsa.

The Dinagsa Festival and its Lamhitanay sa Dalan attraction have boosted economic growth for the city, Mayor Escalante confirms. He attributes the influx of banks and commercial establishments to the attention that the festival has lent Cadiz. He also highlights the city's infrastructure development, with a new market and improved port facilities underway, showcasing Cadiz's dedication to providing the necessary support for the increasing appeal of the Dinagsa Festival.

As Dinagsa reaches its 50th mark this 2024, it is notable to acknowledge the rich culture that brings all these colors to life. As multitudes continue to flock to this tiny coastal city every year, Cadiz strives to keep pace with this progress, leaving its mark on the world one festival at a time.

Article by: Mayumi Espina
Photos by: Unit A Creatives / Cadiz City Tourism Office
Video by: Unit A Creatives
Video script by: Mayumi Espina

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