Best Moments of Urban Baylehan 2017 (as Seen by Us)

Best of Urban Baylehan 2017 - Project Iloilo


| January 26th, 2017

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Another year, another Urban Baylehan in the books by Project Iloilo. It’s been a tiring weekend not just for us organizers and volunteers, but also for the venue staff and stallholders who had to “hold the fort” along with us. And of course, we also have to address the very big elephant in the room: it rained. Hard.

Despite the weather not cooperating with us, people still came, and in droves, too. We’re not sure if it’s because Project Iloilo has cultivated such a loyal audience or if it’s because there’s just nothing good to do on that rainy weekend—you do the conjecture, either way—but you (YES, YOU!) made the proceedings more fun than it had any right to be!

Since we’re still high off from UB 2017 and convalescing from the flu we collectively imposed on ourselves—we’re “suffering for our art” now, see—this is probably the best time to recollect the awesome things that happened at the event!

Before we proceed though, do note that this is just our version of UB’s “best moments”; we may have been at our front booth for most of the time, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen everything that happened at the event. If you’ve got something memorable to share from this year’s UB, you’re free to comment below, as usual!

Okay, enough chit-chat! Here is Project Iloilo’s best moments from Urban Baylehan 2017!

1. Peter Solis Nery sets the tone

Multi-time Palanca winner Peter Solis Nery is arguably one of the most divisive figures in the Ilonggo creative scene, but what he certainly isn’t is “boring”. Case in point: he opened the Spoken Word programme of Urban Baylehan Night One in spectacular fashion. And of course, we’ve got video:

Peter Solis Nery performs "At My Father's Wake" at Urban Baylehan 2017. Makeup by Noe Rey Segura, video by Irv Dedel Salvacion.

Posted by Peter Solis Nery on Friday, January 13, 2017

Video by Irv Dedel Salvacion

Nery was dressed in what could only be best described as a “yukata”. I could have stopped typing at this point, but it’s the aftermath of his performance that got the crowd confused; he descended slowly from the stage, still crying (at least, that’s what it looked like from my vantage point), and he kept going on until he got to his seat and promptly stopped.

Obviously, the audience’s applause at the end was polite, but unsure. And really, is there any better way to kick off UB than this? Just when you think you know what you’re getting into, something comes along that shatters your notions of what a “performance” should look like. We couldn’t have imagined it any better.

2. Cosplaying in the rain

The Saturday programme proved to be the most challenging of the entire weekend; it was almost nonstop rain for the entire day, and it only abated during the evening—literally, it gave us just enough time for us to get the musical gear out and have it set up quick.

Earlier, however, the members of Anigumi Joukai were supposed to take over the afternoon slot of UB Day 2 for a cosplay exhibition. The heavy rain, though, was threatening to derail their slot. But if you’ve been reading up to this point, then we don’t need to include a spoiler tag to what happened next: their show went on, and it was mainly anchored by UkieKooki, an Ilonggo YouTube personality who some long-time readers of this website might be familiar with because of this pic we took of him from Iloilo HobbyCon.

What else can we say about him? With everything threatening to go wrong, he still charmed the socks off the onlookers who were “lucky” (yeah, let’s leave it at that) enough to be there. How no one is else is booking him to host events confuses us up to this day. Give him a gig, dammit!

3. What is “art”?

Art is splashing color on a blank wall. Art is drawing chalk on pavement. Art can be just using a permanent marker to draw whatever the hell you like on a Volkswagen Beetle.

So, if it ain’t obvious enough, art can be damn well whatever it pleases. We’ve also gotta give kudos to the visual artists we invited for UB 2017: two out of three days, the rains kept ruining their plans, but most of them still kept showing up for the weekend to keep on creating!

This scenario reminded us of the huge (for its time) ‘Arte Sa Kalye’ project organized by the city tourism council last 2015. There may be no depictions of batchoy or mangga this time around, but hey, you can’t argue the Ilonggo creative spirit wasn’t present for UB weekend!

Live doodling at Urban Baylehan!

Posted by Jun Ray Canonicato on Sunday, January 15, 2017

Video by Jun Ray Canonicato

4. KittXkat’s debut performance

We have to be straight: out of everything we’ve listed here, this one probably appeals to our bias the most. While we consider myself open-minded enough when it comes to music, nothing gets us pumping more like a well-crafted chiptune composition. Oh sure, we can argue that labels have no meaning in this everything-is-streaming world, but where else can you find a ‘Super Mario Bros.’ sound effect being sampled to create a kickass song?

Brendan Apuan is known to many circles in Iloilo City as the guitars and vocals of many hard-hitting metal and posthardcore bands, but he never performed his songs as ‘Kittxkat’ before until we invited him at UB. Seeing the open-mouthed expressions of many attendees during his set only confirmed to us that we did right by this decision.

PS: Brendan, if you’re reading this, we apologize for mispronouncing your name. 😉

5. “Silence” as a political tool

2016 is defined by “chaos”, and it doesn’t look to change soon this year. For many of us who have previously considered the internet as a space for refuge from the chaos the real world, it can be pretty alienating to see civil discussions devolve into pissing contests relying on who could shout the loudest.

Frankly, it’s tiring having to prove yourself right over and over again, which is why the bravest thing you could ever do at these uncertain times is to simply be silent and let the other person speak. And of course, its importance was demonstrated beautifully in Anna Slater’s and Jam Lebrilla’s dual spoken word performance in UB Day 3:

Posted by Deo Antonio D. Llamas on Sunday, January 15, 2017

Video by Deo Antonio Llamas

“The urge to connect, even through noise,” as they put it, is really emblematic of how many of us are conditioned to communicate today, where dead air is perceived negatively rather than as an opportunity that allows us to think through what we have to say clearly and with purposeful intention. The fact that they ended the piece by—for real—shutting up is the most political statement one could ever make in this age where almost every group is determined to drown out the other’s voices.

6. The audience—yes, seriously

Two events in, we’ve got a good idea of what constitutes as Project Iloilo’s “typical” audience: many of them skew young and, as evidenced by the number of people who bunked in with us during the rainy weekend, absolutely down with anything. Really, we can include as many awesome activities and acts as we can, but it’s always the people that makes a Project Iloilo event memorable. “Culture X Community” is the event tagline, right?

However, what delighted us most were the “walk-ins”; in other words, it’s the customers who just sauntered through Atria with no idea that Urban Baylehan was going on and then decided to stay because they found the programmes interesting.

A few examples personally stood out to me: people who were shocked that a roster of all-Hiligaynon films were showing during the CineKasimanwa satellite screenings and found themselves laughing or shrieking in spite of their expectations; a mom who brought her two kids—with popcorns in tow—as the USA Little Theater troupe was preparing for their performances; a couple who stayed glued to their tables until after the restaurant closed just so they could finish El $leeper Sound’s set.

As much as we treasure the audiences that made Project Iloilo what it is now, we’re always cognizant of the reality that Iloilo is made up of more than the profiles liking our Facebook and Instagram pages. With the last UB, this only further drove the point home that “diversity” isn’t just limited to subcultures being represented at our events; rather, it should be extended to EVERYONE who may have had even a passing interest on what modern Ilonggo culture offers. It’s not just a matter of appealing to everyone we encounter; rather, it’s making these subcultures accessible to the casual Ilonggo. And really, isn’t that what we should be all driving for?

Again, please note that this is not supposed to be a definitive list of the most awesome moments at Urban Baylehan 2017. We haven’t even written about Aftersyx Recording’s pop-up lounge or even the politically-tinged performances of USA Little Theater, amongst the many, many things that happened here. But hey, this is where you come in! What’s YOUR most memorable Urban Baylehan moment this year? Do share it with us in the comments section below!

For more blow-by-blow pics and vids from the entire three days of Urban Baylehan 2017, scoot over to Project Iloilo’s official Instagram account.

Photos by Kim Rojas.

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