Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sinulog 2012 Behind the Scenes: Props & Stories

This story is supposed to unfold after the second paragraph of previous article. So let’s move on!

First, I got a closer look at Argao’s main props – the replication of their municipal hall. Am not sure if its called a riser but my goodness it is so vast and big! While all are on wheels, the back areas of those panels can actually house people. Need I say they are heavy?! Golly, look at that thing waiting for its cue on the side of the stage and look at the people around it. Mighty big… and I know its not even the biggest or vastest of props that the Sinulog Festival contingents usually deploy. Yes OMG really!

I walked onwards and by the ‘steeplechase’ water pit of the oval, I chanced upon more of gigantic props, risers and whatevers. You’d really appreciate more of the labours of these groups when you get to see these humungous props. They are so big you’d think the original Miss Saigon production would be such a tiny thing! I was in front of some ‘giant bamboo trunks’ and risers that look like a sportsfest bleacher but also painted bamboo. They’re not just big, they’re tall! I think some of those ‘trunks’ were 15 or so feet high since they were more than twice my height. Each trunk has a steel ladder welded behind it – if I can all it a “behind” since each trunk is a round thing and hollow inside. I asked a Manong in the area how heavy each of those would be. He smilingly replied “magaan lang dahil sa rollers” and pushed one of them with one hand! Whoa! Each of those trunks are supposed to contain dancers who will emerge from inside the nodes. Exciting!

In my excitement, I did not know I peppered the manong with a succession of questions that he had to wait long for me to finish asking before attempting to answer the first one hehe. So, these are of the Karatong Festival from Dulag, Leyte (pronounced fast as you would say duress, dupont or demand). He is Eddie Kempis, a local government employee and his role in this delegation is as head of props. And my chinky eyes seemed to have become sanrio big at the answer to my next question “where were these props made”. They were done in Dulag, transported via big trucks and container vans to Ormoc, then loaded on a ship to Cebu. And listen to this… those props were pushed and pulled by his propsmen who walked all the way from the Cebu Pier to this venue. Why? Because many are too big, like only one chunk of the risers could be loaded on a truck. He said the rubberized wheels are sturdy anyway and even if this is a metropolis, Cebuano motorists do immediately yield when they see Sinulog props being walked around. He says he has so much to thank the Cebu public for it only took them a few minutes walking these props from the pier instead of waiting hours, even days, for trucks to haul them. Goose bumps, goose bumps… wow!

I enjoyed talking to Mano Eddie that he even wondered and asked why I was back at their staging areas asking so many questions instead of being up front of the stage watching the blockings and rehearsals. I said I just want to know and I might write what I have learned. Of course he followed that up with which ‘daily’ I was writing for, with an advise that they have a spokesperson in the name of bla bla bla. So I told him I am just a blogger and my readers are not that excited about the usual things daily papers contain such as “through the support, leadership or auspices of Honorable this and Honorable that”! He laughed a bit but seriously clarified to me that the mayor of Dulag really endeavored to gather resources to support this group.

Next question that naturally came was ‘what would their group do with just a million pesos if they won first prize’! He said he is not actually sure, but he does know that it won’t even be one fourth the total expenses borne by the whole town. Example he gave me was that food and other incidentals alone would surely not go below 400 thousand. He says the most important that they have to take care of are the almost 500 folks in the entire delegation. My goodness! I asked how many buses they took, though I actually did not anymore wait for an answer. We laughed that surely they wouldn’t all fit in one trip of a fastcraft from Ormoc to Cebu hehe! I imagine, for that many a people to just cross from Leyte to Cebu alone would already fetch nearly a quarter of a million one-way! But I was touched at what he said next... he told me that for most participants in this Sinulog celebration, they don't do it for the winning, not even the chance to advertise their towns to the world, but mainly it is to dance and perform for the Sto. NiƱo. I said gosh of course! But don't we all celebrate "fiestas" in our own seemingly 'extravagant' ways?!

I liked the ‘choreographer story’! In the course of my asking so many questions I casually asked who was their choreographer since I heard that in the past so many years the Buyogan Festival group has a guy from Cebu as choreographer. He smiled a bit saying “aw hi Prenil? Hiya amon choreographer”! And I said “wheh, why?” I meant why did choreographer leave Buyogan that had always been champion even over at the Aliwan Fiesta. Hmm, I got a juicy bit of ‘scoop’ here. He told me that said choreographer had a miscommunication with Abuyog’s local government organizers, and to cut the story short, Prenil ended up being hired by Dulag. To which I said “so nagkasaramok”?! Whoa, Mano Eddie was quite quick to clarify that saying “hindi naman, they just had a miscommunication”. And I said “taga-munisipyo ka talaga, very calculated and very safe ang sagot, too politically correct” and he laughed with me whehehehe!

I saw a horse and a band, so I moved on after thanking Mano Eddie!

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