Multinational PR and Marketing practitioner Ken Lerona

Multinational PR and Marketing practitioner Ken Lerona shares his view of the value of Pagpahanggud (Growth, Development) in this Dinagyang Takeover.

Ako si Ken Lerona and this is my Dinagyang Takeover.

My work is rooted in authenticity. It requires me to be connected with the community. Just like Dinagyang, it is not just about the performers; it is also about the spectators – the people whom we are supposed to serve.

Dinagyang is pagpahanggud sang dunang manggad – growth for the environment – representing earth. Ever since, we Ilonggos know how to honor and respect our natural environment. We know that we need to grow and progress, and we need our natural resources to build the foundation of our modern cities, but we do not tolerate abuse and misuse. We are for sustainable growth and development. Our spirit is connected with the earth.

Marketing is dynamic, it continues to evolve to satisfy and delight the market. But it needs to have a strong foundation so as not to alienate the loyal patrons. Dinagyang is much the same. It needs to adapt with the times, but it also needs to keep its roots firmly planted in the tradition of faith and religion.

Public Relations is a profession that requires deep and strong connection with different sectors of the community. It is inclusive. It is about strong and long-term relationships. Dinagyang as a communal celebration needs to respect differences, celebrate diversity, and encourage inclusivity.

I see Dinagyang ingrained in every Ilonggo. It goes beyond a weekend of revelry and merrymaking. It is more than the ati ati performers, it is the community dancing, praising, and jubilating. Dinagyang is a lived spirit in each of us, forging and celebrating growth in important facets of our lives. Dinagyang is pagpahanggud to Ilonggos. It represents growth in heaven, man, and earth. Dinagyang is pagpahanggud sang kalag – growth in spirituality – representing heaven. First and foremost, it is the feast in honor of the Child Jesus, Senor Sto. Nino. Just like Him, we put our faith the Creator. Our spirituality is our core; the foundation of our resiliency and strength. Ilonngos believe that no matter the challenges, we stand strong amidst adversity.

As a PR and Marketing practitioner, I feel a sense of responsibility to share my voice in amplifying the spirit of Dinagyang. As an Ilonggo, I am responsible for the continued relevance and dynamism of our very own festival.Ilonggos do not easily surrender. We are tough. We are made to withstand challenges and emerge strong after the storm. We have proven this time and again.

Padayon. This is a wonderful word that rests within our hearts, our being. With the blessing and guidance of the Almighty, we continue to prevail.

Ano ang nagatulod sa akon magpadayon? Gugma. Love pushes me to go on, to continue the fight, to continue to persist.

Dinagyang is pagpahanggud sang tawo – growth of community – representing man. It is the reverberation of heartbeats, it is the celebration of the Ilonggo people who respect each other, pray for each other, and grow with each other. No matter how far we’ve gone, we will always come home and embrace our roots. No matter who we become, we will never lose our sense of community being Ilonggo.

Love is my strongest motivator to pursue growth. Love encourages me to share my voice to the voiceless, to empower the weak, to make a difference to my fellow Ilonggos.

Love is that strong energy that binds me with the community: love of God, love of fellowmen, love of the environment.

Gugma ang nagatulod sa akon nga magpadayon. (Story and photos from Iloilo Dinagyang FB page)