Travel Magazine

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

By Ian_delapena
It was already past 5PM I was stuck covering a party for a client. Our contract expired about an hour ago but I am lenient with giving my clients with extra time to wrap things up but this time they haven't even sang the birthday song yet. I felt like I wanted to just run away... but then I haven't been payed yet... lol.
At about 5:30 when I had the chance to finally take off. Walked my way out of this very fine village in Quezon City, rode a tricycle then a bus bound to Taft avenue. I got off at Pedro Gil and took the LRT all the way to Vito Cruz. From the train station I walked my self a good 4 to 5 blocks maybe instead of taking the shuttle to the Cultural Center of the Philippines as traffic was really bad because of closed roads.
After walking a few minutes the crowd walking gets thicker. Suddenly I heard drums started beating into rhythm  at last I have finally reach my destination! Hello Aliwan 2011!
My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011
I am not a festival goer kind of traveler. Why? Well, I live in Valenzuela in a barangay very near to two well attended feasts, The San Roque and The Obando festival. Maybe most of you have not heard of the first one but I'm sure that you know the fertility festival of Obando.
My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011Festival Dancers
The first one celebrates the feast day of the barangay's patron saint, yep just a barangay not the whole town which maybe the reason why not every one is familiar with it. The festival includes a street dance with the devotees and not just those who entered the contest. Anyways I will post something about it after the celebration.
The later celebrates the three patron saints of Obando and yes it is the longest feast in the country. The thing that I don't like about Festivals is the huge crowd the come together all cramped up in one small area. But then again I thought, hey I wanna see what I have been missing hence my journey to the CCP.
This is the first time that I am attending the Aliwan Festival which was popularized as the the Mother of All Festivals as most of the festivals around the Philippines compete of being the best festival in the country by presenting their festival street dances.
I wasn't able to get a good seat because of my situation earlier so I maximized the time that I had and took pictures of the street dancers on their way to the CCP.

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Suralla Festival Dancer

I got dissatisfied with the photos that I was getting on the streets as I didn't even had a tripod or a monopad with me so I really couldn't get a shot without using my flash, and I am really bad with night flash photography. So I decided to walk further to the performance area where they present their dances to the judges.

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Ibon Ebon Festival Dancer

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Ibon Ebon Festival Dancer

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Maguidanao Float

Just as I expected a thick crowd was there and I couldn't get any closer to the fence as four to five people fronting me.

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

The Festival Stage and Performance Competition Area

My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Halamanan Festival Dancers Performing

I really couldn't get a good shot so I just decided to just take videos of it.
Halamanan Festival dancers in action

They installed big LED screens near the performance area so those who can't see it live can just watch it on the screens. I was able to catch the last few seconds of the Dinagyang Festival performance and oh it was so majestic.

Pangbenga Dancers getting ready to take the stage
As I continue to watch the dances with the drums beating in all might as I was just right behind them, I can't help but get teary as I realized that the Philippines is so beautiful and rich in culture. I regret not giving enough effort to travel to watch festivals as I may not have the opportunity to see them sooner. I may have to leave the country for the United States where I don't know what is waiting for me. I don't even know if they have festivals as rich and colorful as ours.
Performers from Mindanao

After seeing the Dancers from Maguindanao (if I am not mistaken) I decided to eat since I have not ate anything since breakfast to make it to my client's party. I went around the fast food chains in the area and they were all jam packed so I just decided to go home and rest.
On my way back walking to Vito Cruz I was still able to catch the Dancers from Mindoro with candles in glasses on their heads as they dance. I took a few pictures and kept on walking. Finally I was able to catch a Jeepney going home.
My Very First Aliwan Festival April 16, 2011

Lesson learned through this experience is to travel and not limit your self to things that you can while you can. Learn about the culture of your country. I was specially touched by the performances of those coming from Mindanao. It made me realized that the Philippines is so beautiful, so go around and experience it for your self and stop just watching it on an idiot box.

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