By: Reymundo Salao
The MAGNIFICENT BOLA BOLA
It felt like the supposedly big-deal-50th-anniversary of Dinagyang happened this 2019 because of the special comeback performance of the historical grand slam Dinagyang champion TRIBU BOLA BOLA.
It was heartwarming how the introduction reminds us that the alumni of the tribe are now composed of professionals, OFWs, parents, and even grandparents. It was a wondrous moment to relive glory days. Bola-bola was truly the trendsetter and made the Dinagyang festival all the more unique and gave it a distinct personality.
Bola-bola was the bridge between the old days, especially in the 80s when tribes were kind of seemingly just making do of whatever creativity fits their mood (from Viking themes to Monster themes), because Tribu Bola Bola reminded us that Dinagyang was a cultural event, and strictly stamped that cultural influence in their style, as well as injecting perfectly-fit innovations.
As I was editing this video, I also realized that Tribu Bola Bola belonged to that era when tribes did not need so much gigantic props, this way, it feels like the performance could be appreciated from any angle you view it.
Bola-bola’s performance this Dinagyang 2019 was indeed an important moment in Dinagyang history, a reminder of Dinagyang’s past and reflections of the present.
The sun was bright, but the winds were unusually chilly that Dinagyang Sunday January 27, 2019. I was at the edia row of the Quezon-Ledesma Judging Area that time. As usual and as expected, I had a great time watching and taking videos of the Dinagyang Main tribes’ competition, so much so that I was surprised that it was already past 1:00 PM and we have yet to witness two more tribes. Tribu Paghidaet was up. The drums were ready to bang. The warriors were about to get energized. And then the unnoticeable static hum off the speakers suddenly fell silent. I saw one of the musicians and the officials scramble with panic. I looked behind and saw that there was no sound coming off the stage announcer’s mic, as she was testing it. One of the officials waved and gestured that there was a power failure. The warriors looked obviously perplexed, when somebody approached them and obviously told them that they could not begin their performance because of this predicament. After a while when the audience realized that the performance was not going to happen, for the moment at least; the crowd gave out sounds of Boo. My friend even told me that the tribe should have just begun and will impress the judges with the idea that they could do their performance regardless of the brownout. I explained that many of the new tribe performances nowadays employ various new instruments such as flutes and wind instruments; even vocals. That’s why they could not easily just push through with the performance. It’s been a far cry from our early days of Dinagyang where there’s only the variation of drums to aid the tribe performances.
This was embarrassing. But I don’t think anybody was expecting this. As we were waiting for the festivities to continue, people were buzzing with conversations blaming the power company for the brownout, others were worried that this was an ugly blot to the reputation of our city to the eyes of tourists. I personally have not been up-to-date with whatever news or whatever politics involved with the power issue. All these talks of MORE vs PECO. My only concern that time was wanting to get it on with my Dinagyang morning, and that indeed this was embarrassing. I was praying the show should resume soon coz I have not eaten anything since I arrived there at around 3 AM.
Where were the politicians? Unfortunately, there was no big politician on our judging area that time. It would have been a perfect moment for such a political candidate to step in, purchase a generator from the nearby mall and offer it as a solution to the problem at hand.
It was a good thing that the people on the ground, the festival officers, the city officers working there, and one of the establishments in the area were quick to come up with a solution. And in no time, were able to (from what I heard) connect the electrical line of the mics and speakers to one of the generators around the area. With that, power was on, and the hum of the speakers could now be heard. When the stage announcer finally was able to address the audience through the mic and announced the performance to finally begin, the audience cheered. And indeed, the performance of Paghidaet was indeed worth the wait. Afterwards, we went to have a late lunch, sharing opinions on how which tribe performed best.
The day ended with gulps of beer in one of the roadside bars on the diversion road, while watching crowds all on festive moods strolling around. (Photos courtesy of Francis Allan L. Angelo)