Photo by Xtian Lozañes

Emerging From the Tides: An Oral History of Tribu Baybayanon

By bambi capanang

Tribe (trīb) noun. A number of persons of any class or profession taken together. [Fusion of Old French tribu (from the Latin word tribus, “a tribe”) and the Latin word tribus].

Looking up the meaning of the word “tribe” in the dictionary made me understand the real impact of the word. In this case, a tribe in the Dinagyang Festival is not only composed of warrior-dancers, star dancers and musicians, it also includes all the people behind the scene like the props men, choreographer, musical director, the costume makers, set designers, committee on budget and finance, the tribe manager and his assistant and all the people supporting a tribe in one way or another.

Last Dinagyang 2014, a new tribe was founded when Tribu Pag-asa merged with the Melchor L. Nava National High School to form a school-based group called Tribu Baybayanon. The name came from the root word “baybay”—meaning beach or coast—and with the suffix –anon, which refers to people living in or coming from. It is fitting since the location of the school and barangay is near the coastal area of Arevalo district.

Like its namesake, Tribu Baybayanon has been fighting their way through the changing of tides. Despite the financial challenges and the pressure of the competition, they keep themselves afloat and surviving. Here are the stories of some of the people involved with the group and the challenges they faced this year.


dinagyang Tribu Baybayanon - Project Iloilo
Photo by Xtian Lozañes

The People Interviewed:

Bambi Capanang, the author (B)

Jan Erik Castro, 18, 4th year, Tribe Leader (J)

Fher Dulalia, 15, 4th year, Star Dancer (F)

Kate Yahri Villaruel, 16, 4th year, Villager (K)


B: Ano ang papel ninyo diri? (What is your role here?)

K: Malayan girl nga ginatulok nga high profile sang mga ati, proud sang culture nga ginhalinan kag ginshare man sa mga Ati. [I am the Malayan girl whom the Ati looks up to as a high profile (sic) in the society, proud of the culture where I came from, which I also share with the Ati.]

F: Ako diri ya Ati nga ga-court sa isa ka girl. Ginapakita namon nga happy kag kontento na sa pagpangabuhi sa baybay. [I am an Ati here that is courting an Ati girl. We show how happy and contented we are living in the coastal area.]

J: Ako naman gaprotekta kag lider sang tribu. [I am the protector and leader of the tribe.]


B: Ginpasugtan kamo sang ginikanan ninyo sa pagpasundayag kag sin-o pa gid nagasuporta sa inyo? [Did your parents support your involvement and who else supports you?]

All three: Huo. Ang barangay kag mga teachers namon. [Yes. The barangay officials and our teachers.]

B: Ano ang pinakabudlay nga naagyan ninyo sa sini nga hilikuton? [What is the most difficult part of your experience in this activity?]

F: Indi pa tapos ang preparasyon. [The preparations are not done yet.]

J: Ang music kag saot namon wala pa gid gadungan. [The music and dance are not synchronized yet.]

K: Ang pressure siguro tungod naka-5th Place na kami last year kag time management pa guid. [Maybe it is the pressure, because we’re 5th Place last year and time management, too.]

B: Kag paano ninyo nalampuwasan ini? [And how did you overcome it?]

All three: Ma-unite kami kag may faith lang kay Sto. Niño nga indi niya kami pagpabay-an. [We have to be united and have faith in Sto. Niño that he will never forsake us.]

B: Ano ang natun-an mo sa subong nga pag-entra mo? (What have you learned from joining?)

F: Hambal sang teachers namon, i-enjoy lang namon kag indi pag-isipon nga competition. (Our teachers reminded us that we will enjoy and don’t treat it as a competition.)

J: Everyday happy!

K: Kung ano man matabu [Whatever happens], we will stick together.

B: Ano ang ginapangamuyo mo para sa sini nga tribu? [What is your wish for this tribe?]

K: Do our best. Mag-enjoy. [Have fun.] Kabay ubayan kami ni Señor Sto. Niño. [Hoping that Señor Sto. Niño will guide us.]

F: Guide and bless (sic) by Jesus Christ. Ang mga judges kag mga tawo maka-judge sa amon performance. [The judges and the people will judge our performance.] Win or lose, we are still winners, because we’ll do our best.

J: Do our best. Pray to Sto. Niño. Kung ano matabu, batunon namon ang desisyon kag tani magdugay ang tribu. [Whatever happens, we will accept the decision [of the judges] and hoping that the tribe will last longer.]


Ticar, 20, 4th year, Babam drummer

“Ikaduha na ni nga tuig ko sa tribu. Sang una sa props lang ako. Nag-entra ako diri para sa grades kay gadugang points sa extracurricular ko. Maayo man ang practice namon kay may disiplina. Gasugod kami ala-una asta alasseis, tapos alas-siete sa gab-i hasta na ina kaisa alas-dose. Nagpabudlay sa amon kay nagaka-rattle na kami tungod gailis kami music, wala pa ga-counting ang iban, kag dugang na dira ang kakapoy. Sa subong ga-polishing na lang kami kag masiling ko nga may bato kami sa originality. Ini nga Dinagyang, ginahalad ko sa akon asawa kag kabay nga makatapos ako high school.”

[This is my second year with the tribe. Before, I was assigned to do the props. I joined here because of the grades that will be accredited to my extracurricular (sic). We practice very good because we have discipline. We start at one o’clock until six o’clock, then seven o’clock until sometimes ending at 12 midnight. We had difficulties where we get rattles during a practice due to the music being changed, while the other drummers with us are not counting with us, and added to that is fatigue. For now, we are polishing our skills and I can say that we can compete based on our originality. I dedicate my joining in Dinagyang to my wife and I hope I can finish high school.]

Tribu Baybayanon iloilo - Project Iloilo
Photo by Xtian Lozañes

Mrs. Erma Gemudiano, Faculty, Sponsorship Committee

“I handle the financial aspect of the tribe, especially with the subsidy given by the Dinagyang Foundation is not sufficient to fund the whole duration of the activity. I also did the negotiations with the sponsors. This year, we already spent twice the cost of last year’s expenditures due to the increased demand for a more elaborate production design.

Personally, I want to give up on joining this year’s Dinagyang. I sat in one of the practices one time. I was again inspired, because of these students’ performance. The fact that we are not able to provide enough snacks per practice as compared to last year did not bother them much. Only 30 per cent are former members, the rest are comprised of students from Grades 8 and 9, and 15 members came from Grade 6 of Calaparan Elementary School. The Barangay Council has been supporting us ever since. They even donated in cash; lending us manpower and securing us whenever we have a practice here or in the city. I am hoping that everything will come to the realization of what we have planned and everyone will execute their roles on this whole production and we might win the title.”


Mr. Eric Tagana, Faculty, Assistant Tribe Manager

“My role here is more of the executive side. I regularly meet with different committees and students and coordinate with them. I am also involved with: 1) budget and finance for the costing of costumes and production design; 2) concept design of the costumes and the whole production itself; and 3) general help.

It is very challenging to balance the cash on hand with the foreseeable expenses, to please every coordinator to cooperate and to face the students every practice that would encourage them to be deeply involved in the tasks. So I always think positive by praying. Miracle happens anytime, anywhere. God will desire the heart if we pray fervently. Always turn the negative into positive when you offer everything to God. I am always looking at the other side of things. What inspired me most is that I am passionate about what I do. Be it a role or a job, ever since college I was a dancer and dancing is my form of expression. That is why, whatever experience that I had before, I share them with my students. I pray that all our endeavors will be fruitful; all our sacrifices will pay off. We will win this title.”


Mr. Ricky C. Pilar, Officer-in-Charge Principal, Tribe Manager

“I facilitate and oversee the manpower, the schedule of practices, and the budgeting and financial aspect of the tribe. I am hands-on when it comes to solicitation of sponsorships, making of props, marketing and lay-outing.

Finding sponsors who will support the tribe was the most difficult part of the campaign. Some companies want to support the tribes who have already won the top three spots. In spite of the impediments, I get encouragement from the faculty by having their support, by hook or by crook. The Barangay Council supports the tribe and by praying to Sto. Niño for surviving this project.

When I have to give some encouragement to all the students, I give emphasis to the role of each individual student that their contribution is vital to the success of whole group. I also instill in them the sense of ownership and pride that wherever they go they have to be carefully carrying the name of their tribe. I am not hypocrite to say that my wish is to be in the top three.”


All of these interviews were done during the lead-up to their recently concluded Dinagyang competition, and I was able to observe them keenly from the time they were practicing their routines up to their live performance last January 25th.

Watching their performance on television coverage, I felt like comparing them to an adobo dish; they had all the ingredients to cook up a satisfying dish, but they still need spices to make a twist out of an ordinary one. The tribe, on the other hand, is like the cook who will determine the taste of their dish, which I believe resulted in how their performances have shown through during that dat. Eventually, I believe they did their best, and only the spectators who watched them can only determine how their fates will go as we look forward to the next year of Dinagyang.