Colors, colors and more colors. Screaming reds, cool blues, blinding yellows and every palette in between was seen last Saturday at the Mall of Asia grounds up to the streets of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
It was three in the afternoon and the sun was mercilessly scorching the whole of the metro, sandwiched between the Manila Bay and the SMX Convention Center at MOA were makeshift huts filled with the contingents for this year’s Aliwan Fiesta. It was a well-represented event, from the Pakalog Festival of NCR, the Dinagyang of the Visayas, to the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival of the Mindanaos.
The staging area was a colorful chaos as these masked and costumed lot danced and practiced for the upcoming showdown that afternoon.
The Aliwan Fiesta is organized yearly by the Manila Broadcasting Company and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, featuring and promoting the various colorful festivals around the country. Now on its eight year, this summer event is always flocked by the local people, amassing huge crowds.
This year the festival consists of 17 festival streetdances, 11 festival queens, and 12 festival floats. It’s like attending all the festivals the country has to offer without leaving Manila.
By four in the afternoon, the floats started rolling down the street and the respective groups all went into their formations. The first presentation was held in front of the MOA atrium, each contingent then parading afterwards to the CCP Aliwan Theater for their final dance.
As the parade started, we decided to head off to CCP as we can hardly get a view at the presentation grounds at MOA due to the thick crowd. It was, however, the same situation when we arrived at the CCP.
After a quick dinner at the many food stands in the area, loud drumbeats started echoing through the area at around seven in the evening. The first festival contingent finally arrived.
Good thing we got a spot at the press pit, it was right in front of the stage where the judges were and the vantage was just excellent.
The drums started booming and the colorful swirling dances started. From the graceful swings of the Filipinia themed Halamanan Festival of the Bulakenos, to the energetic modern dance of Tondo’s Lakbayaw Festival, the gliding sweeps of the Lapay Bantigues of Masbate City, the Islamic twist of Parang Maguindanao’s Padang Padang Festival, to the thundering cadences of the Ilonggo’s Tribu Paghidaet Dinagyang Festival. It was so tempting to just put my camera down and simply watch every single performance.
This was my third time to attend this one of a kind event and to say that I am overwhelmed each time is an understatement. The Aliwan Fiesta is definitely one event that every festival-lover should not miss.
Streetdance Competition Winners
1st Place - Tribu Pinagdahet, Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo City
2nd Place - Zamboana Hermosa, Zamboanga City
3rd Place - Kasa Festival Banate, Iloilo City
Float Competition Winners
1st Place - Cotabato City
2nd Place - Bahandi han Dagat, Pasaka Festival, Tanauan Leyte
3rd Place - Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao
Festival Queen Winners
1st Place - Rizzini Alexis Gomez, Sinulog Festival, Cebu
2nd Place - Angelie Joy Golingay, Dinagyang Festival, Iloilo City