The culminating weekend of the MassKara festival is over, and once again, those of us who no longer see the appeal of crowds and festivals can breathe a sigh of relief that all the inconveniences imposed upon everyone are finally over and done with.
ROAD CLOSURES. The roads that were closed for festival events should be reopened by the time this column comes out. This has been a part of the sort of ‘bigger and better’ festivals our public officials like to run and whenever the culminating weekend comes around, it is something everyone has to deal with. This year, there were a lot of closures due to the number of festival sites which were spread all over the city. This meant a lot of adjustments, as the organizers would inform of the closures but not really provide much information with regards to alternative routes. We just have to figure that out ourselves, and that is why until they are reopened, many of us stay away from the closed off sections as much as possible.
CELLULAR SIGNAL BLACKOUT. This supposed security measure seems to be mostly theatrics, as it is terribly inconvenient for both residents and festival goers but at the same time doesn’t really seem to provide any real advantages. It is like requiring air travelers to take off their shoes because somebody once tried and failed to bring a shoe bomb into an airplane.
Bombs triggered by cellular signals are so late 90s/early 2000s, but up to now, our security officials love to pull this prank whenever there are large crowds and their beloved VIPs in attendance. In this age of drone warfare, artificial intelligence, mesh networks, and so many other technological advances available to almost anyone on the planet with an online shopping account, cutting off phone signals in a world where everyone else is highly dependent on it is one of the most counterproductive things to do.
Imagine being a tourist/visitor in Bacolod, excited to enjoy the MassKara festival with friends, and then on the day that the festival is supposed to culminate, you cannot even contact them because there are no cell phone signals. Isn’t that a bummer?
How about those who have no more landlines and have to deal with legitimate emergencies? How are they supposed to call for help if cell signals are nonexistent for hours, simply because a few VIPS are in town?
There has got to be a better way of doing this, but based on the automatic reaction of police and security officials, it looks like this is the only way they know how to keep us “safe”, so until they learn how to improve on that part of their job, this will continue to be an annoying and life threatening feature of Philippine festivals.
WANG WANG VIPS GALORE! Have you noticed how many wang wang convoys have been bullying their way through our roads these past few days, as the MassKara festival culminates? The culture of entitlement and bullying among government officials and those who have deep connections with them is as strong as ever, and there is nothing like a festival to remind us of that. I know it’s stupid to hope that this is only a festival thing, but unfortunately for Filipinos who like to put political dynasties in power, it looks like we will have to get used to the return of the great wangwangers. There are more of them during festivals, but don’t hold your breath, and be prepared to bow down and give way to their more convoys in the coming years, because it looks like they are here to stay.
CROWD CONTROL. I didn’t bother going to the street parties this weekend, but based on social media comments, it looks like it was a good decision because there were many who reported being deathly afraid of being crushed in a stampede due to the lack of crowd control. It looks like Filipino officials never learned any lessons from the deadly Itaewon crowd crush, which happened just almost a year ago. I guess when it comes to Filipino festivals, more is always manyer, and any form of crowd control must be seen as a killjoy. They’d kill cell signals and inconvenience a few hundred thousand over the area of an entire city, but they cannot be bothered to control the entry into a crowded area when the risk of a stampede or crowd crush is already becoming a reality. Those who want the seemingly oblivious cops to intervene should’ve gone to the nearest cop outpost and get them involved by saying that a drug pusher or someone Red-tagged is in the crowd, so they’d clear the area, call in the SWAT team, it make our safety a priority as soon as possible.
Festivals are a good thing, and they can be quite fun. But for those of us who are not VIPs, we will always have to remember that we need to make the adjustments. This is not a problem for the ever-resilient but fun-loving Filipino, but if we can have public officials and festival organizers who are more people-centric instead of always being infatuated by VIPs, more of us could actually have a better time.*