Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Pyromusical: S. Korea vs. Malta

It's that time of the year again when colors will be exploding on a dark night sky, and it's that time of the year again when I would be sitting in Manila Bay's seawall for at least four hours a few minutes before sun down and up to the last explosion of colors.

It's the 2012 Philippine International Pyromusical competition!  Now on its 3rd year, the competition attracted 11 countries to compete for this year's top prize, and the Philippines being the host, just like the previous two installments, will also take part in the event not to compete but to entertain (and also to brag a little that we can do better than them hehehe)
The opening of the six-Saturdays event was last February 11, 2012 and the first match up was between South Korea and newcomer Malta.  I was there as early as 5 pm, and that early, a bee line of excited fireworks patrons has already formed at the entrance.  I waited for more than five minutes before being allowed inside and another 10 minutes before finding my way to the seawall and settled there for the next two to three hours of waiting.  The sun is still up and hot but I came prepared, I have with me an umbrella, water, food and a book to pass the time.  
It wasn't long when the sun bids the day goodbye, and the amazing colors of the Manila Bay sunset sets the tone for wonderful explosion of colors later in the night.
South Korea took first draw of blood, err, fire and their fireworks were amazing enough to go with the K-pop sound.  I thought they did good, especially the fireworks that floated and exploded on water, though it didn't reached that super wow level, it was enough to excite us all and set the bar high for the next participant.

After the South Korea set, I thought of looking for a better shooting location with interesting and more prominent foreground to boot.  And the moment that I gave up my seat, I thought three persons jumped on it and snapped the small space for themselves hehehe.

And it was not a good decision, a very bad decision, actually.  Di na natuto!!! When I went to the center, there was no more space, save for an ant! And I am forced to go back to my previous seat only to find out that not only three persons took it, but a throng!!!!  So I have to settle at the back, a few meters from where I used to occupy, with lots of people's back blocking my view. sigh.
Malta took the classical background, and just like any classical song, it started slow to the point of being boring yet with every minute that pass and with every explosion they made, a momentum after momentum has been built for that big, loud and bright finale!  BOOM! And I wish I am still seated on the seawall. waaah.

It was a good opening though, and for my next fireworks appointment, I better not give up my precious or just upgrade to VIP (which I might do anyway).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Trip to Binondo 2012

At last, after years of waiting, I finally experienced Chinese New Year in Binondo!!!

It's a good thing that, for the first time (ever?), the celebration to welcome the year of dragon was declared a special non-working holiday by the MalacaƱang, and that's the primary reason why I can go there and got a first hand experience of the festivity.  And according to some, the declaration was basically the reason why the number of pinoys that trooped to Binondo, primarily Ongpin street, doubled or even tripled as compared with the previous celebrations.  Well, I do not have even the slightest idea as to how many people came that day, but I can tell you that a lot is an understatement.

I went there alone to shoot and at the same time, being a first timer, to be an usisero.  With the throng of people in Ongpin, no one will feel alone and no one can tell that I am an usisero. 

The moment I stepped out of the bus in Sta. Cruz and walk towards Ongpin, people in red and cameras flashing (literally and figuratively) are as common as the ponkans and oranges selling 5-for-P100.00.  It wasn't that hot, but you'll sweat with the energy of the place coupled with the endless walking and countless bodies that merged into that area.

My objective was to watch and shoot a dragon and lion dance.  The moment I heard a vicious beating of drums, I run towards to the area where the sounds are coming and found a lot of people circling around some performers, but they're not dragon/lion dancers, some kind of ati-atihan group that joined the business of giving and collecting envelopes to all in exchange for some dance and fire eating.  I stayed for a while, shoot some and walk away.

I saw some dragons "walking", and the mere sight of them excites a lot of people (including me) and before I can say dragon, people swirled around them and have their pictures taken.  I thought it was a main recipe for chaos and I was in the middle of it, so I excused myself and settled in the nearest corner, and took my time shooting.

It was after coming from Dong Bei (for a take out dumplings) that I got to witness a Lion Dance, the dragon performers just finished their part when I arrived though.  It was an amusing sight!  My adrenaline pumped with the beat of drums and cymbals, I almost forgot to take pictures as I was glued watching their routine, hehehe.
They performed in a newly-opened restaurant, and the coins thrown by the lion dancers to spectators were, understandably, more than the usual and the kids and oldies alike have a merry time catching them.

As I went my home, I walked again going the Sta. Cruz way, it was a long walk as I stopped every chance I got to see a dragon dance, and taking picture of other stuffs.  I also waited in line to get my share of shanghai fried siopao.  Oops, sorry, no picture of the actual siopao, I forgot hehehe.

If the next Chinese New Year falls on a weekday, will it be a holiday again?

Hopefully, so I can go back and dance with the dragon and lion again!!! :)


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