The plan was to meet at the Quirino Grandstand at 1pm to take portrait shots of the contingents. I have been sleeping in for the past couple of days, and when Saturday finally rolled in, I found myself still awake at 8:00 am. Hearing the household showly waking up, I got out of bed and joined my sister and her kids at the table for breakfast.
After an hour, I resumed my attempts in getting some sleep. I finally did doze off — at 10:30 am. My alarm went off at 11:30. Stumbling out of bed, I went to the bathroom to wake myself fully with a cold, refreshing shower. Of course, a cold shower during summer in the Philippines can only do so much. A couple of minutes out in the sun waiting for a jeep, fx or a cab had me sweating.
I barely made it in time for our 1:00 pm meet. Eric was already at Quirino, taking pictures. We meet up at the food stalls across the Manila Ocean park entrance. After downing a glass of cold mango shakes, we headed off to take pictures before it got too dark.
We first went to the area where the floats are parked. You can really see the effort each contingent poured into their entry. Both the dancer’s costumes and the floats have been given a lot of attention, and were fine tuned to the last detail. After all, there was a Php500,000 prize for the best float.
Afterwards, we went out to the field where the dancers are assembled and waiting for the cue to start the parade to the Aliw Theatre. I overheard one dancer telling Eric that they put on their make ups as early as 10:00 am. That meant they were probably changing into their costumes at 9:00 am, and up at 7:00 am. They have been up for close to 8 hours at that point, yet you can still feel the energy emanating from them (and from the pile of empty energy drink bottles in the middle of the field).
They all look so young. There were kids as young as 8 or 9 years old, high school teens and probably some in their early 20’s. They were all dedicated to their craft, and you can just see how much they love their province and their heritage.
You can clearly see the passion in their eyes, the pride in their hearts and the braces on their teeth
After shooting for close to two hours, Eric and I had a quick bathroom break, then we each bought a can of cold soda. Laguidly walking back to the area where the contingents are lined up, we were stopped by a barricade guarded by a bunch of burly men. We have to be authorized to enter the area, they said. We didn’t really mind; we had our pictures. Just as we were discussing whether to make our way to the Aliw Theater, where the performances will be, huge drops of rain started falling from the sky. Our decision was made: we’re riding a taxi to the CCP complex.
Luckily, a cab just drove into the Quirino Grandstand, dropping off its passenger. We quickly got in, and told the driver to take us to Aliw Theatre. It started pouring in earnest, and we wondered what happened to the gorgeous floats and to the make up and body paints meticulously painted on each dancer.
Understandably, the parade was delayed. To while away our time, we paid a Php 60 entrance fee to go inside Star City. A lot of people were there, waiting for the rain to let up, so all the restaurants facing the performance area was packed. We passed the time having heavy merienda and buying snacks, knowing that once we took at place at the press box, there would be no going out.
The rain finally let up around 6:00 pm. We eagerly went out and saw that several hundred other people had the same idea. The rain was definitely not in their agenda, and the organizers were doing all they can to drain the puddles (or mini rivers) that formed thanks to the sudden downpour. As the water slowly receeded, the rain started up again several times, though not as hard as it did earlier.
Soaked with sweat and rain, feet squishing inside wet shoes, exhausted due to lack of sleep and tired from standing up for more than an hour, I was elated when the announcer said the first contingent were already in Vito Cruz. Finally at 8:00 pm, the program started.
It was amazing to see the groups perform. After hours spent baking in the sun, getting drenched by the rain, parading from Rizal Park to the CCP complex, they still have the energy to dance so beautifully during their performance. There aren’t any traces of fatigue in their eyes, only their dazzling smiles as they go through each step.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to revive me. I mustered up the energy to watch four groups, but gave up afterwards. I wanted to at least watch up to contingent number 9, but I really couldn’t take it anymore. Stumbling from the pressbox and squeezing through the crowds, the only exit I found required one to go under the bleachers and stepping through a rather high rail. What an experience! Can’t wait for next year
Bonus picture: Bloggers Da Who!
Da Who itong blogger na na-ispotan namin sa Aliwan Fiesta na nag papapicture kasama ang isang hybrid na zebra/baka?