Saturday, October 31, 2009

Waxworks 2009: A Negros Museum Presentation Featuring Kilometrahe Trese

This year's Waxworks presented by the Negros Museum in Bacolod City is getting bigger and bigger, attracting more crowds that makes a Bacolod Halloween incomplete without getting "waxed".

Now in its fifth year, The Performance Laboratory's Waxworks halloween interactive exhibit features Visayan/Negrense folklore such as the agta (black ink), a creature of darkness; the kama^-kama^, the Pinoy version of a small creature of the dwarf family; the babaylan, a priestess/quack doctor; and many other interesting creepy characters in a guided tour to the seven themed chambers of the museum.

Kilometrahe Trese, or Kilometer 13, has become a Bacolod landmark that has earned its fame because of a local manughilot or one who practices quack medicine by accupressure accompanied with esoteric rituals and strange prayers. It also earned notoriety for having many road mishaps, coincidence or not.

The show opened on October 26 and many locals as well as tourists have come to experience the thrilling performances in the 15-minute tour. Not to be outdone, I brought along my four girls on its last day, Halloween night. A fabled white lady dressed in wedding gown bathed in white light greets incoming visitors.

My dad, already in his seventies, decided to just wait outside, feeling more scared of getting crushed than by getting scared of the actors.

Luckily, we were batch number 14 and not the dreaded number 13 as the show's Kilometer 13 theme. We waited at the holding area where three other scary creatures, one a headless mannequin, conditioned the audience for a spooky visual treat. While waiting, some had henna tattoo by an artist.

A costumed guide led us into the dark chamber and the group began to scream and shout, just for the fun of shrieking. However, a mother carrying three little children (one was still months old), backed out, probably scared that her kids might fall ill due to fear.

All the tugging and pulling and pushing within the group of around 20 screaming people is enough to scare me with the thought of a stampede. When we finally got out, me and the girls sustained a few damages: Jo-an's flip-flop strap broke, and my newly purchased Havaianas got stuck in the mud at the museum outer back court.

The horrific visual performance though artistic did not quite connect to the Kilometer 13 theme. Probably this was a different Kilometer 13, a fictional one.

Still it was a fun family treat, a first for my three girls. We then went to have dinner, happily discussing our recent not-so-spooky adventure over dinner at a nearby restaurant, the kids learning for the first time to eat Chinese food with chopsticks.

Now I feel waxed.

Wax Works 2009 at Negros Museum: My Personal Notes

Wax Works, now on its 5th year, used to go unnoticed despite the fact that I just work at the next building.

The first time I was an unwilling guest and if not for the 5 complimentary tickets I was given, I didn't come then dragging along the only other willing companion, my family. That was three years ago.

Since then it has become a yearly tradition with my daughter always egging me to to, curious to know what could be this year's theme.

And so we went, bringing along my three adopted girls for their first time horror room treat. The thought of them being scared out of their wits was amusing enough as we remembered how they screamed in terror as they were being wounded up the ferris wheel a few months ago. It wasn't a nice first time experience in all their 12, 13, and 14 years respectively.

But I also assured them that the scary figures they will be seeing are just humans dressed and made up for halloween. As an example, they also donned themselves in scary clothes and makeup a few days before and had fun scaring each other.

Perhaps this is the reason why the show is more of an interactive thrilling performance show than a terror-filled trip, to avoid any untoward events such as costumed actors ending up being beaten by visitors.

For my seventy year old father who's more concerned of being crushed by freaked out teenagers, he opted to stay outside and waited after our 15-minute horror trip was over.

He just had his picture taken with his granddaughter beside a mannequin costumed as a white lady bathed in white light. At the holding area, while waiting for our turn, the girls also had their pictures taken with headless or horribly dressed mannequins.

An unsmiling guide led us in a maze of several chambers of different ghastly themes. As usual, the squeezing and pulling and screaming of the 20 or so bunch against each was more terrifying than the costumed actors. Only a mother with two toddlers and a baby backed out as it was too much for the little ones.

Thankful for the general patronage scare, my girls came out unscathed except for a broken slipper, and proud to say that the show wasn't scary after all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Adobo Festival 2009 at Balay Negrense, Silay City

It's going to be another Adobo Festival at Balay Negrense in Silay City on November 5, 2009. This day also marks Negros' independence from Spanish rule in 1898.

History tells us that the revolution led by Aniceto Lacson and Nicolas Golez coming from the north of Bacolod City (Silay City), and Juan Araneta from the south (Bago City), won in an overwhelming victory over the Spaniards.

Thus the celebration capitals of Negros Day are in Silay and Bago Cities.

The Balay Negrense Museum in Silay will again hold it's annual celebration with a cooking contest for its Adobo Festival. In connection with this, there will be a kitchen art exhibit by various Negrense artists.

Everybody is welcome to join the celebration.

Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia Caricature

Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia is easy to caricature because of his prominent facial features. The first thing you will remember about him is his bushy eyebrows and matching moustache. You can actually throw in any cartoon eyes, nose, and mouth into his round face and brush up hair and presto, you get a Bing Leonardia caricature.

Inspired by making political cartoons, I tried my hand on Noynoy Aquino whose long face and expanding forehead is quite easy to associate with the presidentiable. Just add eyeglasses to his kind eyes and thick-lip smile. A trademark black shirt and a laban sign will make an excellent image recall.

Masks of Bacolod MassKara 2009

These are some of the masks of Bacolod MassKara 2009 that caught my camera's attention.

Most of the colorful masks are made of local indigenous materials fashioned into frilly festive faces, visual adjectives of the Bacoleno spirit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Charlie Co's Majica MassKara Float: Bacolod's 30th MassKara Festival Centerpiece

As Bacolod celebrated its 30th MassKara festival this year, one of the many unforgettable sights is Charlie Co's Majica MassKara Float that served as Bacolod's 30th MassKara Festival Centerpiece.

Aptly entitled ‘Celebrating 30 Years of Smiles,’ the giant artwork mounted on a 30-foot trailer is a collaborative work by at least 18 artists combining different art disciplines not only visual but also dance, theater, lighting and special bubble effects.

The Majica MassKara float is Bacolod art coming to life with fun and glitter typical of the Bacolodnon spirit. The fantasy-filled float is project director Charlie Co's surreal characters coming to life.

Award-winning director-producer Peque Gallaga proudly declared that it is very Ilonggo and the first of its kind in the Philippines.

The Majica MassKara float was unveiled as a gift to the people of Bacolod City at the public plaza and was the centerpiece during the Electric Masskara at Lacson Tourism Strip and was showcased at the New Government Center during the countdown to midnight for the Charter Day of Bacolod City.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Kari sa Bacolod, Papinta ka Guya!"

"Come to Bacolod, Have your Face Painted!"

MassKara seems to be incomplete if you don't wear a mask or have your face painted to suit the festive mood. Here are some of the beautiful faces of Bacolod that added color to Bacolod's MassKara Festival.

My cam phone just couldn't get enough of all these deluge of beautiful people that, even when my gadget went lowbat, there were still a lot of faces to paint. It was fun doing so and fun being a part of it all.

I've spent many hours just uploading and editing the pictures but I've promised my clients to feature them on this blogspot.

(I'll get back to this blog and describe each one of the pics, not so much with the nameless faces but with my experiences with each of these living canvases that gave pulsating life to Bacolod as the City of Smiles.)

I'm back! So here goes: the banderita-canopied Lacson Street turns into a standing room street salon as strollers stand up in front of one of the many artists and get their faces painted ala prima in plein air.

Majority of the living walking canvases were Bacolod's female population and the best selling designs are what I call "Glitter Butterfly", floral designs I call "Diwata (Philippine fairy)", and the "Festival Queen" tribal inspired designs.

While most had their faces painted, some sported their chosen designs on their foreheads, forearms, upper arms, shoulder blades, and neck. I find the designs cascading from the face down the neck rather sexy.

Learning from last year's experience, I armed my water-based paints with extra glitter that became a major demand among the fun-loving walking party-goers turned iconic attractions.

My living canvases come in all shapes, sizes, ages, color and texture. The youngest was barely a year old, the oldest was a macho man in his fifties who wanted a big red flower on his cheek with leaves and sprays cascading down his chin.

While there were weird demands to do a particular design in mind, most would rather submit to the artist's sound judgment, which makes the job a little easier given the artistic license, all for the sake of freedom of expression.

It is true, however, that the artist must set aside his or her particular painting style in the meantime. So that abstract, cubist, fauvist, and other daring expressions don't sell so well.

I'm glad that I have learned the tricks of Chinese brush painting which I used extensively for a more fluid execution in a setting that requires only a few seconds to a minute only to finish, considering the long queue of eager faces.

I noticed that despite a chosen color, there is a great need for white that has to go with it for a more luminous look in an evening affair. The touch of glitter gives it a more festive look for a night on the town.

As against henna tattoo which stays on for up to a week, face paint only is as good as the night and you can easily wash it off being water-based. Which works perfectly well for office workers, students and grandparents who would only want a temporary fix just for party or picture-taking purposes.

I posted the picture of a golden girl featured in this photoblog, although another artist did her white and green floral face paint (I did her grandson's), because I like her fun attitude that she would just want herself photographed wearing face paint, for her profile pic.

Wow! I can just imagine most profile pics of Bacolod people would be them with personalized paintings on their faces.

The paintings may seem to have followed the same template, but really, no two paintings are alike. The strokes depend on the current situation, me holding a paint palette on one hand, a selection of brushes tied to the wrist of the same hand, while the working hand also receiving payment for the job and clicking away souvenir shots for my artist's portfolio.

My bag is always strapped to my shoulder, alert for snatchers and pickpockets who are just waiting for a distraction to harvest people's wallets and cellphones. Funny on the second night of the Electric MassKara, I even had my Asus notebook inside my Thai tote, so you can just imagine the respective artist's balancing act all the while.

Ignoring hunger and tiredness, we continue to accommodate more and more excited faces wanting to be painted. There was just a lot of people everywhere. Before immersing into this career as street face painter, I was just an ordinary office worker and mother sick of crowds.

But because my daughter is growing up and wanting to have her dose of the fun, I would like to go out with her also and what better than to be actually part of the show than just a spectator.

My daughter, also an artist herself, has got herself into the trade as well.

I remember when I was a little girl about her age when MassKara was still in its first few years. I would also help my mother in one of the rented kiosks at the Bacolod Public Plaza roundabout selling foodstuff and drinks to the revelers. I remember my mother asking me to make a jovial mask-wth-headdress design for their office t-shirt uniform for the parade. A few days later, the same design was mass-produced and sold by t-shirt vendors to tourists

My, how time flies and how the MassKara has evolved into a flavor all its own. While the mask has become the symbol of Bacolod's perpetual smile even in times of adversity, another symbol seems to rise -- the people of Bacolod need not wear a mask to hide a sad face, because, its people are smiling even behind the masks, even in times of crisis. They face even the most challenging times with smiles adorned with glitter flowers, butterflies and festive designs truly reflective of the Bacoleno spirit.

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