Festivities are the ultimate modes of shared expression in the Philippines, and the fiesta is a community’s eternal moment – with townsfolk bringing the past, the present and future together in kinship and often enough, in hedonist merry-making. For a few days, fiesta crowds become an organic whole, united by a sense of belonging, of being related to everyone, in being part of rituals that one’s instinct readily understands, and by losing oneself in a lavishness that knows no bounds.

Even in everyday life, Filipinos will always find a reason to celebrate. But a fiesta defines the Pinoy’s complex psyche – at once religious and pagan, gustatory and olfactory, verbal and visual, theatrical and bacchanalian.
Fiesta activities vary from place to place, but the staple components include a colorful parade, religious ceremonies, street games, beauty pageants, a flea market, concerts, dance contests, drinking sprees, videoke bouts, and an overflow of food and drinks that visitors can partake of from house to house.

Filipinos living overseas are known to splurge on a return trip home in time for the town fiesta. With the impetus on domestic tourism, more and more residents in the capital are becoming aware of festivities in various parts of the country. Fiestas even attract groupies nowadays. For visitors are never turned away, and in most cases, tourists can get quite overwhelmed by massive doses of Filipino hospitality.

When the annual Aliwan Fiesta takes to the streets of Manila and Pasay anew on April 26-28, a whole gamut of activities will be in store for both tourists and locals, audience and participants, all geared toward heightening that sense of kinship amid competitive regionalistic fervor enveloped in ebullient merry-making. 17 contingents from various cities and municipalities all over the country will engage in a grand national showdown of festival champions in the streetdance competition. Master craftsmen will also have a chance to display their design ingenuity as floatmakers, while some of the country’s loveliest young ladies vie for the title of Festival Queen, or Reyna ng Aliwan.

The annual cultural extravaganza was conceptualized by Fred J. Elizalde, chairman of Manila Broadcasting Company, 15 years ago, as a means of engaging radio audiences throughout the country in a grand festival heretofore unseen in the nation’s capital. In line with his tagline of creating “one vision, one nation,” Elizalde asked his teams at both MBC and Star City to work hand in hand with regional tourism offices and local government units in mounting the ultimate in grassroots entertainment. With all-out support from the neighboring Cultural Center of the Philippines, Aliwan Fiesta has, for the past decade or so, become a cultural showcase with an educational impetus, not to mention being a mecca for photographers.

This year, audiences will be treated to a colorfully diverse montage of street theatre from the array of participants sent by the different provinces, with the rivalry among the country’s top festivals having intensified through the years. Seeing action in the festival dance showdown will be champion contingents from Baguio City, Benguet; Bangued, Abra; Mapandan, Pangasinan; Luna, Isabela; Malolos, Bulacan; Guiguinto, Bulacan; Bacoor, Cavite; Atimonan, Quezon, Dolores, Quezon; Rodriguez, Rizal; Balud, Masbate; San Lorenzo, Guimaras; Caluya, Antique; Iloilo City; Burauen, Leyte; and Upi, Maguindanao.

Aliwan Fiesta 2018 kicks off on April 26 with the opening of the Shoppers Bazaar on the along Sotto Street featuring products from regional trade initiatives of the different participating towns. At 6 pm, the Pasakalye concert and variety show featuring X-Battalion, Darren Espanto, Mocha Babes, the Go Girls, and a popular band takes place at the outdoor stage in front of the Aliw Theater. And at 8 pm, BBC World Service Radio mounts a live recording of their program “The Arts Hour on Tour in Manila” at the Star Theater, hosted by Nikki Bedi, with special guests led by rockstar Bamboo, master rapper Abra, filmmaker Treb Monteras, comedian GB Labrador, spoken word specialists Louise Meets and Juan Miguel Severo, photographer Hannah Reyes Morales, visual artist Nikki Luna, and broadcast journalist Atom Araullo.

On April 27, the lovely ladies vying for the title of festival queen will have their pageant night at the Aliw Outdoor stage at 7 p.m, to be hosted by 101.1 Yes The Best’s Raki Terra and DJ Nick of 96.3 Easy Rock, with special guest TJ Monterde.

On Saturday, April 28, the grand parade and streetdance showdown will commence at Quirino Grandstand at 3:30 p.m., making its way to the Aliw Theater at the CCP Complex, where the awarding ceremonies immediately follow. This will be hosted by Nicole Hyala and Chris Tsuper of 90.7 Love Radio, with special guest performances by Gloc 9 and The Attitudes.

Amateur and professional photographers are most welcome to take their best shots from the parade and join the Photo Competition; deadline for submission of entries is on May 4, at 5:00 p.m.

Aliwan Fiesta 2018 is supported by Pride Laundry Detergent, Unique Toothpaste, White Rose Kojic Whitening Soap, Smart Dishwashing Detergent, Tanduay, Globe, Dunkin Donuts, the Tourism Promotions Board, Alaska, Columbia Canbdies, Cherry Mobile, Symdex E, Fukuda, Nature Spring, AICS, Manila Bulletin, GES Lights, Steeltech, and Whiteflower Analgesic Balm.

For details about this year’s participants and line-up of activities, email siouxstar@gmail.com or call 832.6125 / 555.3477. Those interested may also check out Aliwan Fiesta 2018’s official Facebook page or log onto www.aliwanfiesta.com.ph