It’s 8.20 in the morning. Sunday. 14 November 2010.
The sun was gloriously shining and its rays were filtering eagerly through the glass windows of Melbourne Showgrounds Agricultural Hall where dry goods and cultural exhibits were conveniently housed.
The interior of the building was bedecked with brightly coloured buntings lording over the white and blue marquees displaying an array of every imaginable products from kitchen ware to beauty care.
Two elderly couples, dressed in elegant Filipino attire, reluctantly entered the hall, which was then almost devoid of people. There were few dry good exhibitors who were arranging and re-arranging their products and putting last minute finishing touches to their marquees.
“Aba, wala pa sila?” queried by the old lady to her companions.
“Sila” referred to the parade participants. As participants, they were requested to assemble close to the stage located at the end of the Agricultural Hall from 8:00 to 8:30. It was noted in the invitation that the parade would start at 9:00 sharp in the morning.
“Ah… Filipino time!” laughingly exclaimed the ladies.
Wasting no time, the elders went to the Ilocano Association of Victoria cultural exhibits which were situated at the entrance of the hall. Here, they were greeted by a display of stunning clothes worn by the previous Miss and Mrs Philippine Fiesta beauty queens of Victoria and a row of exquisite barongs courtesy of one of the Fiesta executive officers.
Community and civic organizations were given space by the Fiesta to promote their groups. Among these were Dulaaang Bayan Melbourne Inc. (DBMI), Filipino Community Council of Victoria (FCCVI), Gabriela, Filipino Language School of Victoria, Circulo Capizeno of Melbourne, Migrante, Bayani and Rotary International among others.
One elderly gentleman ’s attention was caught by an installation depicting the 1986 EDSA People’s Power. His face lightened up when he saw the miniature models of men, women, children and religious orders serving as a barricade to stop a huge military tank.
Outside, the food stalls were starting to come alive with a number of food sellers bringing with them all kinds of kitchen utensils and fresh supplies of food. They brought with them their kawa (wok) , palayok (pots) , kaldero (kettle), sandok (ladle) and kawali (frying pan).
They were optimistic because the morning was bright and cheerful and seemed to promise a beautiful day.
Well, it has to be, because yesterday, the first day of the Fiesta, was a definite let down. The sky was overcast and it rained incessantly the whole day. But despite the inclement weather, there were plenty of attendees.
For the stall holders and for the people running the Fiesta, hope springs eternal.
Meanwhile, the hall started to be filled with Fiesta attendees and parade participants. Dressed in their fine Filipino costumes , the participants were armed with their respective organizational banners of some descriptions. Others were wearing T-shirts and jackets with the names of their organizations proudly emblazoned on them.
A group of marshals showed them where they should be in the parade. The Philippine Fiesta expected about 26 Filipino-Australian community organizations in the parade to be headed by the Ati-Atihan group (Piso-Piso Group ) , followed by the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria executive officers and guests.
The parade was truly a babel of Filipino languages because of the Ilocano, Ilonggo , Pampangueno and Capizeno groups. A genuine spirit of camaraderie and congeniality pervaded the air. Smiles and laughter were in abundance. A true concretization of MAKIBAHAGI – Sharing – which is a palpable demonstration of Fiesta’s 2010 theme.
The piece de resistance of the parade was a motor cavalcade of past and present beauty queens wearing their crowns and tiaras. They surely added glitz and glamour to the event.
The parade culminated at the Wood Chop Hall , where the traditional mass and the two-day Fiesta program was held. This building was just adjacent to the Agricultural Hall complete with bleachers for guests and public expectators.
Once again, the 28th year celebration of the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria was held at the 19 hectares sprawling Melbourne Showgrounds because of its capacity to accommodate more than 10,000 attendees; its accessibility to public transports and its 7,000 parking spaces.
Due to Melbourne’s inclement weather, the Fiesta Executive Committee decided to hold the two-day program and the exhibits in the halls, while the food stalls were conveniently located at a concrete path between the Agricultural Hall and the MSG stadium to protect the clients and sellers from mud, wind and rain.
The Philippine Fiesta was highlighted by the appearance of the Philippine matinee idol Jericho Rosales and comedienne Anton Diva; the exciting Palarong Filipino (featuring Filipino games for children) initiated by the Don Bosco Association of Victoria; Galing Gintong (an amateur singing competition); A diorama display (1986 EDSA People’s Power) courtesy of Don Belardo; the introduction of the Thuringowa Helicopter Project by Alwin Reamillo and the live boxing bout on big screen of Manny Paquiao and Antonio Margarito (“Mexican Tijuana Tornado”) at the Agricultural Hall.
Indeed, this year’s two-day Fiesta celebration in Victoria was a success. Until next year again.