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Dinagyang, Iloilo, and SM: An ‘AweSM’ weekend

The annual Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo takes place on the fourth Sunday of January, marking one of the city’s most cherished and vibrant periods. Spanning roughly three days and two nights, it becomes a lively showcase of culture, dance, food, music, revelry, and of course, more food.

Dinagyang Festival Iloilo SM
AweSM Iloilo 2024 stands as the premier destination for an unparalleled Dinagyang Festival experience, from January 15 to 28.

Recently designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City for Gastronomy, Iloilo proudly flaunts its culinary delights, offering a gastronomic adventure for those who land in the city. SM City Iloilo serves as the ideal hub to experience all that Dinagyang has to offer, fostering excellent private-public collaborations with the Iloilo Local Government Unit (LGU) throughout the three days to enhance visitors’ experiences in this ‘original’ Queen City of the South.

Dinagyang Festival Iloilo SM
Ms. Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee visits Iloilo City for a meet-and-greet event with her fans at SM Southpoint.


Dinagyang Festival Iloilo SM
Singer JK Labajo entertains fans with his hits during the Viva Music Festival at SM Southpoint.

Upon arriving in Iloilo, one must indulge in the famed Ilonggo cuisine. It was a hearty meal at Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods Restaurant on Villa Beach, where the Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) hosted lunch for the SM VIP guests.

Why not begin your Iloilo food adventure with the Grand Iloilo Food Festival by SM City Iloilo that provides the chance to savor Batchoy, a dish that Iloilo proudly claims as the best in the world? During the Dinagyang weekend, the Food Festival transforms into a gathering spot for all food enthusiasts and Batchoy aficionados.

Dinagyang Festival Iloilo SM
The Grand Iloilo Food Festival at SM Southpoint serves as a culinary hub, bringing together Ilonggos and tourists to showcase celebrated Ilonggo dishes, complementing Iloilo City’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Creative City of Gastronomy distinction, with guests including Chef Cidj Jalandoni, Councilor Rudolph Ganzon, SM Supermalls’ Vice President for Operations-Visayas Michelle Llanos, Raisa Treñas-Chu representing Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, SM Supermalls’ Senior Vice President for Marketing Jonjon San Agustin, and Iloilo City Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President Jelma Crystel Implica.

The Ilomination Parade acts as a ‘preview’ to Sunday’s Dinagyang Festival, representing various districts of Iloilo and serving as a welcome for those visiting for the weekend. With support from SM Supermalls, a Mayor’s Night at the Park Inn Ballroom, hosted by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, welcomes foreign dignitaries, fellow Mayors from Guam, and special guests.

Dinagyang Ilomination, featuring warriors in their illuminated costumes and props, has a grand launch at SM City Iloilo.

On Saturday, the group went on an Iloilo Heritage House Tour which offered a breathtaking exploration of the city’s landmarks and historic mansions, revealing the intricate connection between the sugar industry and the city. The Nelly Gardens, the Ledesma Eagle House, the art-deco Lopez ‘Boathouse,’ the Balay Remedios with its famous restaurant, and the Molo Mansion are architectural wonders that enrich this informative tour, providing a glimpse into the past.

This Dinagyang 2024, the Molo Mansion became the venue for the launch of a captivating coffee-table book, “Houses That Sugar Built,” authored by Gina Consing McAdam and featuring images by the Irish photographer, Siobhan Doran.

Gina Consing McAdam’s ‘Houses that Sugar Built,’ photographed by Siobhan Doran, successfully launches at the Molo Mansion, featuring a discussion with key contributors including (L-R): Heritage advocate Eugene Jamerlan, the photographer, the author, Lopez Vito Mansion owner Mariflor Jalandoni Lopez Vito, and SM Supermalls’ President Steven Tan, hosted by Ces Oreña-Drilon.

The Molo Mansion, a prime example of adaptive reuse, was the ancestral home of the Consings. Sold to the SM Group nine years ago and meticulously restored, it now functions as a Kultura retail store with food pop-ups in the garden, becoming a favored spot for tourists. Consing herself expressed excitement at seeing the house where her grandmother grew up, not falling into disrepair but standing as a vibrant structure.

Sunday marked Dinagyang Day, where the city erupted with street celebrations, bringing culture, art, and music to life as expressions of city pride. 

In commemoration of National Autism Consciousness Week, celebrated every third week of January, SM organized an event for the National Week of Autism Society of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter at the Park Inn in SM City Iloilo. Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee and SM Supermalls’ President Steven Tan graced the event.

Celebrating National Autism Consciousness Week, an event with SM Cares, SM City Iloilo, and the Autism Society of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter is held at Park Inn Iloilo, featuring Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee (4th from left) and SM Supermalls’ President Steven Tan (third from left).

Filipinos are renowned for their hospitality worldwide, but there’s something distinctly special about the Ilonggo brand of welcoming visitors. Dubbed the City of Love, Iloilo leaves us eagerly anticipating a return soon.


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Award-winning in-house native advertising and creative agency of INQUIRER.net

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