Iloilo City’s premier celebration, the Dinagyang Festival defended its champion title for third straight year – with flying colors capping the grand slam crown of the Aliwan Fiesta 2012 Year 10 in Manila over the weekend.

Dinagyang won a three-peat and took home the most-coveted P1M cash prize in the Grand Festival of Champions that unfurled from Quirino Grandstand, Roxas Boulevard and Aliw Theater at CCP Complex April 14.

Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog expressed elation with the victory that makes every Ilonggo proud and shared by Ilonggos in Manila who supported the delegation during its performances to promote Iloilo to a national audience.

Dinagyang’s champ Tribu Pan-ay of Fort San Pedro National High School triumphed in a back-to-back win. Tribu Paghidaet of La Paz National High School won the Aliwan title in 2010.

Collective efforts have paid off to achieve the honor and excitement to see Dinagyang emerges on top of the contest.

The “eagles” have soared high in refining and enhancing its repertoire for the big challenge, said City Tourism Officer Ben Jimena.

The festival’s success is attributed to an operational public-private partnership between the City Government, Ilolo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI), and San Jose Parish which totally integrated and mobilized the community, he stressed.

Other keys to success are relevance to cultural and religious traditions, professionalized events management, effective marketing and creative and innovative activities, Jimena said.

In Aliwan Fiesta’s 10 years, Dinagyang has the best win record of four championships and most number of runner-up trophies since the mother of all festivals started in 2003.

Pantat of Zarraga was second placer after it represented Kasadyahan in 2011. Kasag of Banate was third in 2010 and second in 2009.

Tribu Paghidaet of La Paz National High School placed second in 2008 and third in 2009.

Tribu Ilonganon of Jalandoni Memorial National High School was also second in 2006 and 2007.

All Iloilo groups grabbed the Top 3 when Pintados of Passi City was declared champion, Kahilwayan of Sta. Barbara finished second and Tribu Silak of Iloilo City National High School was third placer in 2005. Pintados also placed third in 2006. Kahilwayan also placed second in 2004.

Tribu Atub-Atub placed second in 2003 and won first prize in 2004.

Dinagyang serves as big brother for other festivals and a venue for promoting barangay, school and municipal groups to national prominence; gives opportunity for other local cultures and talents to be known outside of the confines of their localities.

Dinagyang has brought recognition and accolades for Tribu Bola-Bola of Iloilo National High School, Tribu Atub-atub of Veterans Village, Tribu Silak of Iloilo City National High School, Tribu Ilonganon of Jalandoni Memorial National High School, Tribu Paghidaet of La Paz National High School, and Tribu Pan-ay.

It has supported the entry of other local festivals in Aliwan Fiesta and their bid for larger exposures and wider publicity: Pintados of Passi City, Kahilwayan of Sta. Barbara, Tultugan of Maasin, Sa-ad of Leganes, Kasag of Banate, Pantat of Zarraga, and Salakayan of Miag-ao.