(In a nine-day period that crossed over from April to May, scriptwriter Butch Macaro attended several cultural events that really kept him involved in a flurry of fiestas and santacruzans– an experience he summarized as exhilirating and really meaningful. Following is his coverage of the cutural events and the deep impressions these left him.—JC)
The Aliwan Festival
The three day celebration of the Philippines Grandest Fiesta brought to a close the Aliwan Festival last April 28 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Com[plex.
Started in the summer of 2003 to coincide with the opening of Wow Philippines in Intramuros, the Aliwan Fiesta continues to draw people from all walks of life. I still remember spending my fiesta nights with the late Walter ‘Markova’ Dempster Jr. and how we met new friends from the different parts of the archipelago, mostly from Visayas and Mindanao.
Aliwan Fiesta 2007 had fewer participants. The previous years saw 30 dele-gations reporting to the CCP Complex to vie in the Float and the Street Dancing competitions.
The Grand National competition started with a grand parade of the participating contingents starting from the Luneta Grandstand to the CCP Complex as early as 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
The part ciipating contingents included the Pakalog Festival contingent of Santolan, Pasig City; the Panagbengga Festival of Baguio City; the Bacao Festival of Echague, Isabela; the Disposorio Festival of Hagonoy, Bulacan; the Pamintinan Festival of Rodriguez, Rizal; the Boling-Boling of Catanauan, Quezon; the Fiesta de Toros of Nasugbu, Batangas; the Pili Festival of Sorsogon City; the Tribu Ilonganon of Iloilo Dinagyang; the Kahilwayan Festival of Santa Barbara, Iloilo, the Sinulog Festival of Cebu City; the Alikaraw Festival of Hilongos, Leyte; the Pasalamat Festival of Pagadian City; the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival of Zamboanga City; the Kalilangan Festival of General Santos City; the Padang-Padang Festival of Farang, Shariff Kabunsuan; the Melimud Festival of South Upi, Maguindanao; the Kuyog a Sagayan Festival of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan and the Kalilintad Festival of Mamasapano, Magindanao.
Each participating group performed before the judges headed by Juan Elizalde and Santi Elizalde. Before hosts Leo Martinez and Regine Tolentino announced the grand winners, they called on candidates for the Reyna ng Aliwan 2007. Jane dela Cruz of Disposorio, Hagonoy, Bulacan was crowned the Reyna Ng Aliwan 2007. Cara Jane F. Sullano of Iloilo City was 1st runner; Maria Raenalyn Guansing of Baguio City, 2nd runner up; Tanya Christine Beatingo of Negros Oriental 3rd runner up and Diorella Lardizabal of Santolan, Pasig 4th runner up.
In the Best Float Category, seven runners up won P25, 000 consolation prize each. These were the Sorsogon Pili Festival; the Boling Boling of Catanauan, Quezon, Zamboanga City; the Panagbenga of Baguio City; the Pinaginasan of Maguindanao; the Lumbunan of Shariff Kabunsuan; and the Kalilangan of General Santos City. Third best float (P100,000) was Iloilo City; 2nd best float (P250,000) was Disposorio of Bulacan and best float (P500,000) was Sultan Kudarat.
For intermission, the seven-man International Bayanihan Dancers danced the Sakuting and were later joined by seven female counterparts for the Bakya Dance. The Bayanihan Dance Company was fresh from its first place triumph in the International Dance Competition for 2007 in La Mallorca, Spain.
In the Best Dance Parade Category, seven runners also won P25,000 each—the Kahilwayan Festival of Santa Barbara, Iloilo; the Babaylan of Bago City; the Padang-padang of Parang, Shariff Kabunsuan; the Pasalamat Festival of Pagadian City; the Kalilangan Festival of General Santos City; the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival of Zamboanga City and the Disposorio Festival of Hagonoy, Bulacan.
The Alikaraw Festival of Hilongos, Leyte won the P250,000 3rd prize; the Tribu Ilonganon of Iloilo Dinagyang won the P500,000 and the Sinulog Festival of Cebu City won the P1 millions first prize.
Image Model Search 2007
The Private Pair-fect Model Search held it’s final pageant at the Villa Imma-culada in Intramuros Manila last April 30 with 10 finalists vying for the coveted title of super model. Private Property apparel produces quality brand of uni-sex t-shirts. The model search already produced past winners who have joined show business, like Jenny Miller and Valerie Concepcion. Miss Earth-Water Jasmin Chua became popular through the Private 8 Model Search too.
The candidates were subjected to more than three months training under Wilma Doesn’t, Rene Durian and David Fabros before finally being trimed down to ten finalists. The swimwear competition was held at the 8 Waves Water Park Resort and Hotel at San Rafael, Bulacan while the Talent Night was held at the Robinson’s Ermita on April 25. The venue for the finals was the Rajah Sulayman Park. The program was ldirected by Del Pascual of Mediasia Global Entertainment in cooperation with Water Park Resort and Hotel, Vision Capture Studio and XS Salon. Other sponsors were WRR 1019, SM, DZMM, Star Studio, Woman Today and Excess.
I arrived at the Villa Immaculada Restaurant too early for the event and have witnessed the final touches for the rehearsals. I had the chance to meet D’Pilyoz, the dancing statues from Sta. Cruz, Laguna who later provided the intermission number while they were putting on their make-up to look like statues.
The hosts for the evening’s final competitions were RR Herrera and Ian Victor whom I found to be a vibrant, articulate, petite and funny female emcee. It was Ian who led me to the buffet table before the start of the final showdown. I kidded her that she can stand on her own as a comedienne.
After the sumptuous dinner, the ten finalists were introduced. They were (male and female finalists in the order of their introduction) Katrina Cruz, Dharls Buenaventura, Diane Rose Cruz, Angeline Barral, Bryan Castro, Marc Ferrer, Love Thadani, Lee Marvin Torres, Fernando Mabunga and Jovie Ambata. Bryan Castro of Dasmarinas, Cavite was a Wowie de Guzman look alike.
After a modelling portion of the show, special awards were given out with Diane Rose Cruz and Bryan Castro as Mr. & Miss Congeniality. The Voters Award (or was it Bookers?) went to Dharls Buenaventura and Love Thadani. Mr. & Miss Excess Factor winners were Diane Cruz and Lee Marvin Torres. The special award from 8 Waves Resort went to Diane Cruz and Love Thadani. Mr. & Miss Body Award went to Diane Cruz and Love Thadani. Best in Talent were Angeline Barral and Bryan Castro.
Flores de Mayo
Flores de Mayo has traditionally been celebrated in every part of the country to commemorate and to showcase the veneration to the Virgin Mary in the form of flower offerings. Flores de Mayo is synonymous with the Santa Cruz de Mayo. Or so I thought.
But tonight, I discovered the difference between the two through a lady who explained that the Santa Cruz de Mayo, although sagalas are also present, is in commemoration of the search of the Cross of Christ Jesus by Queen Helena together with Constantine. In the Santa Cruz de Mayo, the sagalas are representatives of personages connected with the search such as Reina Mora representing the Muslim religion before the advent of christianism; Reina delas Estrellas, Rosa Mistika; Reina delas Flores and Reina Elena. The sagalas in Santa Cruz de Mayo carry symbols such as a bunch of flowers, the rosary beads, a sword and the Holy Cross. Constantine is oftentimes represented by a young boy dressed like a royal prince. Flowers are carried by the sagalas in Flores de Mayo as offerings to the Virgin Mary after a long procession.
Flores de Mayo and Santa Cruz de Mayo have been continuously celebrated for over a hundred of years in the country as a symbol of the Pilipino reverence to the Virgin and as a Christian nation. Years ago, both festivities were done in all simplicity with unkown and unpopular ladies in the community with simply cut gowns for the occasion and with the usual escort in simple barong tagalog.
I had been an escort for reina elenas many times in my home town during my younger years but minus the pomposity and grandeur. Just a simple noiseless procession around town as some elderly women continuously prayed the rosary. Through the years, and in the cities, the sagalas were usually prominent and popular women in society, scions of rich families and even popular movie stars. Expensive and intricately designed gowns are worn by the sagalas with heavily adorned barong tagalog worn by the escorts. In the provinces and in small towns, young girls who wish to be a sagala will find less difficulty in realizing her dreams.
May 6, 2007 at the Rajah Soliman Park in Malate was the setting of the recent Flores de Mayo under the auspices of international designer Ben Farrales, founding chairman of the Congregacion del Santissimo Nombre Del Niño Jesus. Although it had been observed for more than 27 years under another group of religious, it is only now that the Congregacion has taken over the task of carrying the event.
The Hermano Mayores for the celebration were DOT secretary Joseph Ace Durano, Mayor Lito Atienza, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Unilever chairman and CEO Sanjiv Metha. It was almost seven in the evening when the program was started and to my surprise, I heard and recognized the familiar voice of the host, FAP director general Mr. Leo Martinez and Ms. Lina Castro Cabral. Once again, the FAP director-general regaled the people present with his effective and funny rendition of a political diatribe from Congressman Manhik-Manaog. I just remember that he was also the emcee in the Aliwan Fiesta at the CCP Complex a few days ago.
Thirty beautiful and gorgeous ladies dressed in expensive and equally gorgeous gowns comprised the ranks of the sagalas. They included Jennifer Lee, a petite and charming movie star from Viva productions, April Love Jordan, Joy Velasco, the first winner of the Miss Teen Model-Universe held last April 8, 2007 in Malaysia, Singapore. The 30 beautiful girls paraded on stage with their escort infront of several judges, (so I found out it was a sort of a beauty contest afterall), after which the procession began to move toward Puerto Real in Intramuros, complete with a lighted bamboo arch for each sagala.
The other sagalas included Roxanne Sy, Jennifer Lee, Peach Sioson Pebbles Asis, Hazeline Santos, Marie Therese Castro, Denillelou Valmonte, Angeline Tucio, Iana Matea Puache, Elizabeth Wilson, Kaye Geronimo, Justine Rosanna, Ayish Tantamco, Paula Kris Salivia, Star Villareal, Kim delos Santos, Cheska Emuta, Irene Gabriel, Missy Rivera, Jasmine Maierhofer, Anne Marie Rose Rachell dela Rosa, Justine Gabionza, Samantha Lewis, Aira Rahmanifard, Joy Velasco, Lotus Van Heddegen, Camille Villar, the daughter of Senator Manny Villar and Congresswoman Cynthia Villa.