Touchdown Iloilo: Dinagyang Festival

Going to Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival isn’t part of my plan this January but because my feet suddenly itched, I decided to book a flight before the ticket price goes up.

Before going there, I promised myself to only spend P1,000 or less in our 3-day and a 2-night trip to Iloilo. The P1,000 already includes the terminal fee back and forth for P400, so I only got P600 left for the whole 3 days making it P200 per day. How did I survive?

Hostel? Motel? No no. Because if I did, how much money will be left in my pocket? We already have a place to stay in Iloilo. AND I couch surfed for the first time.

I arrived in Iloilo evening. I had the chance to meet with our host and another two travelers. We had dinner at Talabahan, a restaurant just opposite of Smallville. OH! Here in Talabahan has the best-baked oysters I’ve ever tasted for only P70 per plate! We’ve ordered 3 plates which were baked, spicy, and the regular one. I consumed almost the whole plate of baked oysters LOL!

That night also was the meeting of other couch surfers in Smallville but hesitated to come and doesn’t want to be one of those “pretentious” in an expensive restaurant. Why couch surf if you can afford your own room and eat in an expensive restaurant. What’s the point that you couch surfed? I explore the world without spending too much.



Next morning is the main event of Dinagyang. We woke up early around 5:30 a.m. to hopefully avoid the crowd and at least watch the dance performance in a convenient spot, we found one but the worst spot to take pictures. While we were there, there was this lady who’s offering me a seat so that I can take good photos for P150. NO WAY. I can stand longer anyway! After an hour, we just decided to walk in the street and took photos during the parade instead of watching the dance competition.

I enjoyed watching Koreans having so much fun with the ati-atihan. It’s kind of new to them. I remember when I was a kid I’m afraid of them. They have this black body paint making their sclerae prominent enough to scare kids and kids will cry especially when ati-atihans get near and touch them.

Spending time with our host, and co-surfers made my second day a blast. The two taught us how to play a game called the Shit head. Because every card has different functions, that game heck made me crazy trying to memorize each card’s use and probably the reason why I lost twice!

Swimming in a massive crowd of people is one of the happenings I cannot forget! It was almost like a stampede! Mini concerts were everywhere which makes the street very crowded. I thought I was going to die from that stampede. I was trying to feel my cell phone from time to time if it’s still with me. It was like pushing there, pushing here, and pushing me. I feel fragile that time but I enjoyed it somehow.

We ate in the streets. We then again ordered oysters and lechon. After a while, we start finding a karaoke bar. I sang my favorite karaoke song and gained many fans from singing it.

I really had a very nice stay. I believe that this will be the start of my backpack traveling as well as couch surfing. It was my first time spending less, I really love it, and I look forward to traveling more like this.

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