Words by Bea Lizarondo Soliman
Photos by Christian Haw
Every February, at the University of the Philippines, there is always this annual five-day music festival that people mark in the little square boxes of their calendars in anticipation. This musical festival, with all its all its fetching social media posters and all stirring video pubs, is the much-awaited annual UP Fair.
Not only does this event, which is traditionally held in the campus’ scenic Sunken Garden, create a platform for local artists to share great music, it also creates the perfect avenue for educating a crowd of thousands on different societal issues that continue to plague the country. Hence, UP Fair’s theme for this year is: Rak N’ Rally!
An important detail to know about this five-day event is that no UP Fair day is the same UP Fair day. Each event date is organized by a different UPD-based organization, holds a different set of local artists, and promotes different advocacies. Last February 13, Elements: UP Fair Wednesday, led by the UP Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants, was held, with the event’s main advocacy being defending press freedom.
Like any fair, this event had rides that can make people question how much of the motions can they actually tolerate before their brains are sent whirling with the contraption itself! From the Galleon’s high-angled pendulum, screaming-inducing movements to the Swinger’s lifts and drops embedded in speedy rotations—this fair can guarantee that any attendee who is up for an exhilarating or thrilling ride will not be left disappointed.
The fair also had a variety of food stalls that can certainly fulfill any attendee’s cravings! The fair had food ranging from street-food snacks to actual meals, and the most prevalent in the fair—shawarma meals. (One of the hosts, Clark Ramirez, even joked about the fair being a UP Shawarma Convention!)
However, unlike any other fair, this fair called (and continues to call!) for the attention of the attendees in the direction of pertinent social change. The fair held small exhibits about fighting against sexual harassment as well as more politically-involved exhibits. They even gave the attendees the opportunity to make their own voices known through the use of a freedom wall and a photo wall. The main advocacy, however, for Elements: UP Fair Wednesday is, as mentioned earlier, defending press freedom.
Student leaders, together with Rappler employees, came on stage and held a protest against the silencing of the free press, reminding the attendees that the event was not held just for mere leisure or entertainment but also for the raising of social consciousness regarding an issue that greatly affects the country today.
As the attendees must not forget about the latter part in “Rak N’ Rally,” they must also not forget about the first part: Rak! Last Wednesday, Elements: UP Fair Wednesday introduced their attendees to a number of incredibly great local artists (even including big names), like Sandiwa, Pusakalye, Monolog, Absolute Play, BennyBunnyBand (which is my personal favorite!), Barbie Almalbis, Lunar Lights, Tanya Markova, Chiquerella, Written by the Stars, Brisom, Room for Cielo, The Ridleys, Granny Lee, BTC Sounds, Sofa Sky, I Belong to the Zoo, Mayonnaise, Apartel, Rocksteddy, Gloc-9, Parokya ni Edgar, Itchyworms, and Sponge Cola.
Just as the unsuspecting audience thought that the line-up could not have been any better, three artists—Gloc-9, Parokya ni Edgar, and Itchyworms—brought out musical guests of their own!
Gloc-9 brought out Shanti Dope.
Parokya ni Edgar brought out Eunice from Gracenote.
And Itchyworms brought out Ely Buendia!
The event ultimately ended with a performance by Sponge Cola.
With all these things to look back at, we can say that we definitely can not wait to catch Elements: UP Fair again next year!
Were you there? What part of this year’s UP Fair did you like most? Tell us in the comments!