Minority Report

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By JOHN STEVENSON

Now it’s almost over. They have all been waiting impatiently for this- rehearsing their movements for weeks, waiting for their costumes to arrive. It’s their last dance, late in the day, the end of another Fiest.

Another Fiest- and whatever the occasion, all big fiestas follow the same pattern– Parades, street dancing, Artistas flown in from Manila, barangay dance contests at City Hall, speeches, crowning of the Queen, awarding of prizes for the best of This and That, and then a final dispersal through dark streets full of trash.

But a Fiest is something to look forward to, something to plan and work for with friends and strangers. Everyone is focused on the coming occasion with endless rehearsals. It becomes a minor industry and employs a lot of people,— to design the costumes, sew the materials, choreograph the dances, create hairstyles and make-up appropriate to the theme.

Fabric stores go out of stock. Local hotels get fully booked. Local bands get hired, local restaurants set up extra outdoor sites, food sellers set up outdoor booths, children buy bottled water and snacks to sell to the crowds. For the really big fiestas, preparation may take months.

At last The Day arrives, and the Fiest rolls on with violent activity from morning to noon and night –and then is gone. Streets become quiet. Costumes are abandoned. Business falls off. Bills have to be paid, with little money left to pay them. It’s a pattern that pervades the culture.

For these girls in the picture there may be a moment they will remember, but it’s also the end of their story. What follows will be less. No special clothes, no special snacks, no special times where every move they make is subject to attention, praise and blame. Ordinary life resumes in its own small way, with nothing to anticipate day by day but more of the same.

Children are impatient for the Great Fiest that will come to them some day. The day when they will be set free from the endless rehearsals being conducted for their futures: grade school, high school, homework– every action subject to constant supervision and frowns –from Mothers, Lolas, Teachers. They wait in saddness for the great Fiest, the final release, when they will be grown up and free!

That’s what they think. Someone should tell them: Don’t be sad that your Fiest is long in coming.

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