So this is it. The second edition of the Iloilo Art Festival just happened. These two days have been a showcase of many aspects of Ilonggo arts as they’re practiced here. A section of Megaworld Blvd. was closed and it was divided into various areas for graphic works, street biking and skating, a stage for live music and a fashion show, a DJ booth, and even an outdoor screen for showing local independent films.
The first day showered the people with bursts of rain, but it was not enough as it takes more than a few drops of water to dissuade the public to come, discover and support local artists. From the entrance, the graphic arts space was instrumental in setting a striking vibe that was especially visible, and visitors were exposed to many different styles and media; from the colourful collages of Margaux Blas to the contemporary touches of Marzz Capanang, Glory Moralidad, Jam Lebrilla and Kristoffer Brasileño, and not to mention the street art performances of Nollzz Z Li and Jun Ray C. (Editor: full disclosure — Capanang, Moralidad, Lebrilla, Brasileño and Jun Ray have contributed to the website in one form or another during the past few weeks) to name only a few among the many talented artists. It was one of these fine moments when artists could interact with the public directly.
The first day was greeted with the official opening address by City Councilor Jay Treñas and, after a rain-induced delay in the start of the program, the talented girls from the Pauline Cordero Dingcong School of Performing Arts gave us a compilation of group dances that left many young men’s jaw dropping.
Afterwards, the makeshift screen was set up for the visitors to enjoy various local short films by Reymundo Salao, Jaip Saluba, Venz Erick Losbañes and T.M. Malones, to mention a few among the many filmmakers who participated.
The live music went on afterwards. Holiday Monster opened the show with their interesting own sound, which is a fusion of rock with a touch of jazz and funk. Their musical research is just at the start as they just formed up in mid-2013. Then came Gnayganid, whose folk-centered Hiligaynon sound attracted more people to the stage, letting the bodies move to the bewitching sound of drums, percussions and vocals chanting altogether. And with the last band, the legendary Tribu ni Mali, the public let it loose when they delivered their reggae-rooted Ilonggo combo that received the support of PG Zoluaga of Tunog Amakan jumping on the stage, with guitar in hand. The intro with the magic of the flute, the percussions and the offbeat guitar made the hips of the girls, guys and Manong the Drunken Master standing in front of us sway and vibe in unison.
Thankfully, the sun was out on the second day and no rain would impede the evening shows. Sunlight, for one, enabled more visitors to appreciate the graphic arts. When evening came, the stage was then made the center of the attention, starting with the modern hiphop-inspired dance performance by the Time Machine Brothers. And yes they’re real brothers, if you have to ask.
Afterwards, it was the fashionistas’ time to indulge in their passion when the prominent Ilonggo designers came on the stage. Under the direction of Ria Bolivar, it actually became a “catwalk” to showcase what Bo Parcon, Mike Sorilla, Dauson Bermtay and Jet Salcedo have in mind in terms of style, cuts and colours.
Once this trip in the land of fashion and creation ended, it was time anew for local bands to own the stage. Similar to the previous day, it was all about original compositions and the covers were the exception.
Bahaghari opened and, if it’s necessary to introduce them in this manner, they’re the top reggae band in the City of Love. Surprisingly, they excel not just in one form of Jamaican music, but also at ska, too. In second was Ember, the band fronted by the female voice and energy of Cylle that offered their powerful alternative rock backed by very poetic lyrics. Afterwards came Four Leaf Clover, the all-girl band whose singer-guitarist had the opportunity to be on leave to attend the gig. These ladies gave us their compositions reflecting personal experiences with a sound going from a jazzy touch to strong hard rock. They were then followed by a streak of hard sounders like Tree Road and their straight metal sound. Next came Drive Letter, Beggars Description and the punk rock quartet of Pulsing Chunky (no Pablo, I won’t call your awesome punk rock sound as “pop” punk). Surebol then owned the stage, punching the house with their mix of hardcore and thrash (they also seemed to have mastered complex human cloning technology, as their bassist and drummer looked like exact replicants of Pulsing Chunky’s. Ha ha!). These four bands were also part of the Ill City Indie Festival last January 31st at Southpoint. Then, the lights were finally turned off by Death by Headphones.
In short, it was a great time for Iloilo art enthusiasts everywhere. Now these good guys and girls need to have more visibility offered by a permanent venue, which makes me regret JAQ’s is not around to host them daily (and I guess I’m not the only one).
This is what you got if you came. This is what you missed if you stayed home watching some telenovela.
See you next year!
(Photos by Xtian Evren “VanS3n” Lozañes)