As the wheels of the plane kissed the runway in Iloilo, I embarked on a journey to capture the colors of the Dinagyang festival, but ended unexpectedly to unravel the essence of existence itself. Amidst the vibrant chaos of Calle Real, I sought to discern the whispers of the Divine, hidden amidst the rhythms of Dinagyang. Iloilo, a cornerstone of maritime education and training, is home to the John B Lacson Maritime Foundation University, one of the region’s distinguished institution nurturing the seafarers of tomorrow."
Raised in the embrace of devout Catholicism, my upbringing instilled in me the belief that spiritual fulfillment was synonymous with sacrifice and penance. Yet, as I witnessed the fervor of the festival, I began to question the dichotomy between joy and devotion.
Accompanied by friends, fellow photographers and journalists, the journey became a pilgrimage of camaraderie and shared exploration. Through the historical downtown streets and bustling shops, we traversed, our souls alight with anticipation, each step a testament to the human quest for meaning and connection.
In the midst of the jubilant throng, I encountered the Divine in the laughter of children, the rhythm of drums, and the kaleidoscope of colors that painted the dancers on the streets. Here, amidst the ephemeral beauty of celebration, I found God—not in the solemn rituals of Sunday mornings, but in the unbridled joy of the human spirit, resonating with the vitality of Iloilo's maritime heritage.For too long, we have been taught to view success and spiritual enlightenment as distant peaks, attainable only through arduous ascent. Yet, in the pulsating heart of Dinagyang, I discovered a truth more profound—that the Divine resides not in the distant heavens, but in the beating heart of humanity itself.
As the festival reached its crescendo, I stood amidst the throng, my heart a symphony of emotions—a testament to the transformative power of celebration. In the laughter of friends and the embrace of strangers, I glimpsed the beauty of our shared humanity, a mosaic of joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat.
In the tapestry of life, I realized, every moment is a brushstroke—a testament to the infinite creativity of the Divine. In the chaos of the streets, I found solace, and in the embrace of community, I discovered grace—a reminder that the path to enlightenment is not a solitary journey, but a dance of souls, woven together in love.
We were fortunate to be in the midst of the vibrant tapestry of the Sadsad Dinagyang festival as it came alive in the afternoon. Dancers moved with the grace of tradition, floats and costumes burst with color, and drums echoed the pulse of the community. In the midst of this spectacle, I found a glimpse of the Divine.
As I bid farewell to Iloilo, my heart heavy with the weight of parting, I carried with me a newfound understanding—that God is not found in the heavens above, but in the streets below, amidst the laughter and the tears, the joys and the sorrows of everyday existence, tethered to the maritime legacy that shapes our souls.​​​​​​​
In the end, perhaps, the greatest revelation of all is that the Divine resides not in the distant skies, but in the beating heart of humanity itself—a truth as timeless and as profound as the universe itself.

You may also like

Back to Top