A Fiesta in Manila, Philippines
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A Fiesta in Manila, Philippines

Manila : Philippines | Jul 09, 2010 at 3:31 PM PDT
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This is a re-posting of an article I wrote in April of 2010 titled "Ali-wan Fiesta 2010: A Colorful Success & Building an Even Brighter Future!"

Note: I have chosen not to edit it here at this time but will do so in the future.

My reflections on the 7th edition of The Philippines Grandest Fiesta in Manila.

The Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC) with their resources adjacent to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, is definitely presenting and promoting this remarkable event in exciting new ways since it’s 2003 inception. Please visit their recently launched official website, referenced below, which I joined earlier this month.

DZRH, the flagship arm of MBC, will need to be expansive to take this visual event to even greater heights, since the stages do not bring full justice, in my opinion, to the performers and visitors alike. Yes, it is great that people climb trees to gain a view of the highlights yet everyone richly deserves a stage location that facilitates a greater and seamless production; a possible solution would be a stage at Rizal Park.

For 2010, there were 3 major areas of competition with prizes awarded for runners-up as well. Cotabato City won the Float competition, Dinagyang Festival was the coveted Street Dance champion and the Festival Queen was none other than Rizzini Alexis Gomez of Cebu city!

Float Competition: “Sinukbit Cotabato City is home to the prize P500, 000 as the grand prize winner in the float Entertainment Festival Competition for 2010.” (3)

Festival Queen Competition: “Rizzini Naiuwi also won the P100, 000 cash prize and trophy as the Queen of Entertainment for the year 2010.” (3)

Street Dance Competition: “Tumataginting P1-million naiuwi of contingents of the Dinagyang Festival from Derby Paghidaet of La Paz National High School in Iloilo.”(3)

I researched the literal translation of the English word festival and discovered it to be Pista or Pistahan in Tagalog. In fact, there is a Pistahan Festival entering its 16th year and it is scheduled for August 14-15, 2010 in San Francisco, California.

So what is the Aliwan Fiesta in meaning?

From what I can gather in my limited understanding of Tagalog, “Aliw” means Pleasure in Tagalog yet “an” seems not to stand alone in meaning, while if it was AliWanak, it could be the birth of pleasure, which it does provide in abundance to those that take it in.

I do know that the Aliw theatre has something to do with this and not the English meaning of wan, or pale & listless, since there is nothing colorless about the AliWan Fiesta and it is full of energy!

In 2007, I was invited to my first “Feast” in Tacloban and did not know if it was primarily religious, a food spectacle or of celebratory nature. The Pintados Festival held on June 30 that year was indeed a parade of participants in a long procession of entertaining energetic displays of authentic dance and music.

At present, I still associate a Fiesta with a Feast, yet it evokes other incarnations like a carnival atmosphere, a parade, a celebration, a gala, an event, a fete or elaborate outdoor party or a fair. Perhaps most of all, I recognize the embodiment of the Pinoy Spirit within the celebrations we call fiestas here in the Philippines.

The AliWan Fiesta floats from various provinces around the Philippines, hit the streets at the SM Mall of Asia and traversed the 3.6km route to the Aliw theatre by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Star City. Perhaps scheduled to avoid the heat of the day, as darkness fell, I was reminded of the fabulous Nebuta Festival in Aomori Prefecture Japan, and some of the floats transitioned with the day and lit up, although this did make it harder to see the faces and incredible smiles of the performers, which is a feast for the eyes.

Yes, one of the wonderful aspects of this paraded stretch is the ability to mingle with all the street vendors, and personally thank the participants and volunteers amidst the flock of photographers and onlookers. A genuine and authentic purity refreshingly breathes forth from the Provincial troupes; this quality is sometimes masked among hardened Manilazens.

Indeed, some of the visitors to the fiesta do so to make a living off the plastic bottles both full and empty as I assisted with in 2009 and witnessed again in 2010.

I personally thank MBC for sponsoring the AliWan Fiesta in Manila. It is always a treat to have access to various crafts and foods and learn first hand from the vendors. The real winners are everyone involved since it brings together both foreigners and Filipinos of all faiths and areas from the 7,000 plus islands of this archipelago.

While Araneta coliseum hosted the infamous Thrilla in Manila, the Aliwan Fiesta promises to bring thrills to anyone fortunate to witness a part of it and it is a highly recommended way to experience the culture of the Philippines!

Here is my listing of the Top Ten “P” Insights Permeating through the 2010 AliWan Fiesta:

  1. Pilipino charisma Pours out even in dry season: Pleasing to see
  2. Pistahan-like celebrations Promote & Preserve culture
  3. Pollution & Poverty can be Put aside temporarily
  4. Performing is a Precious gift to be shared
  5. Passion radiates from the Performers
  6. Policemen can be Politely Protective
  7. Pooling of effort ensures Planning is Pulled off
  8. Pagkain Plays a Profound role in any Procession
  9. Patience is a Practical approach to life
  10. Provincial smiles exude a Purity often masked in Manila’s Populous

For other Top Ten lists, visit manilatop10.

References:

Article & photos by Eric Phillips on April 25th, 2010.

(1) http://aliwanfiesta.com.ph/

(2) http://www.pistahan.net/festival/index.html

(3) http://www.yesfm.com.ph/

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