2005 Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo, Philippines.

                 

Various scenes of the exciting performers from different "tribes" that compete for little money but a great deal of prestige and the honor of being crowned "champion". The performers are High School aged young people who worked very hard during their free time. I wish you could have heard the drums. Imagine the dancers and about 50 drums making the ground beneath you shake. I don't use this word often but it was indeed "breathtaking". There will be some more pictures from Iloilo up as soon as I can figure out where I left them!

   

Everyone was so busy that Michaela "Cajel" Ganzon,  the 16 year old daughter of City Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon,  took it upon herself to make sure I knew what was going on. She was a great source of information and therefore made the events much more enjoyable. Many people worked hard to make the trip special but Cajel was a great hostess and deserves a special "thank you" here. 

Lunch at a fantastic beach front restaurant. The owner is directly in front of me. To my left is Brazilian Ambassador Lyra, to the far right is Joe Espinoza, my gracious host. Also pictured are members of the Iloilo City Council who, when they aren't spending their days making Iloilo a great city, took the time to show me a famous 17th century Spanish "fortress-church".

 

The church is situated in the town square on an elevated piece of ground where you can see the mountains in one direction and the ocean in the other. They needed the vantage point due to raids by hostile groups from the south. Notice the fortified look of the church. We were allowed to climb the tower on the left and from there I managed (stupidly...I admit) to climb all the way to where I was sitting next to the cross all the way above the church doors. It is from that point that I looked down, saw my life flash before my eyes, then slid back down on my butt. The next to pictures showed the narrow paths and rickety ladders needed to get up that high. They obviously didn't have 6'2" tall fat Americans in mind when they designed the place.

 

The "rickety ladder" I told you about earlier.

I'm turned sideways because there's no way I'd have fit going straight down. Wide load not withstanding, my FEET were about 5 inches longer than the stone steps I was walking on and, should I have fallen, a great many Filipinos would have been needed to extract me from that church. Can you see the headlines? I shudder to think about it.