Let there be lights

By Clint Holton Potestas |April 16,2018 - 09:59 PM

photos by Ted Madamba

IPERCH on a ledge at centermost of the complex in anticipation of Aegis. Relished with sporadic raindrops, the temperature in Mindanao gradually drops as time draws closer to 10 in the evening. A blowing gale tousles my hair, touches my cheeks.

Oh, my cheeks I notice—perhaps, swollen from gnawing lechon and kaldereta and mango float past an hour ago.

Isn’t it too much of an environment for a pocketbook romance? Because you know Aegis.

You know Aegis too well, the Filipino pop-rock band that has melted the hearts of many.

Millions, in fact, of my breed: We, the hopeless romantics of the world.

“I only came here for the love songs,”

I send a text joke to Jojin Pascual, the creative director of Tangub City, who could be stationed anywhere between the stage and the control booth inside the Tangub City Sports Complex.

“Will Aegis wash my sorrows away?”

“Let’s begin with a little history” —is always our conversation starter, especially in Pascual’s case, who is successful at infusing cultural and modern arts. “Since the beginning of time, everyone stumbles at love,” he replies with a smiling emoji.

“So it’s given.

I can’t do anything about that. What you should see tonight are the lights.”

Thousands of lights flood across my seat, on the ground that looks like a football field, forming shapes of sea creatures, tribal patterns, religious symbols, and two of my favorite English words: “love” and “hope.” For the first time since it has been officially declared as the “Stadium Lights Festival” by the Department of Tourism after six years, the challenge begins with how to narrate a story through mnemonics.

A contest participated by over 500 students, it marks a long, grand celebration of the city’s 50th charter anniversary that began last February 28 through February 2019.

Among the jam packed events include a night party featuring child actor-turned-DJ Tom Taus, three regional sports events, a commemorative coffee table book that would trail the success of Tangub City’s Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe and its return to the Sinulog route in Cebu City next year.

Led lights are mostly utilized, mixed with soft drinks containers such as Mountain Dew to render a chrome of neon green shades, house hand flashlights, and colored gel plastic rolls as in the case of the St. Michael’s High School, the festival’s winner this year.

“Black theater” is slowly adopted. For an occasion that was originally limited to a torch parade for the annual charter observance, it has flourished into a spectacle along with the historical float procession in Northern Mindanao, not to mention the life-size Christmas village.

“Discipline is number one. To make 600 people move in unison can be challenging.

Knowledge on the basics of light physics is also needed. So it is a combination of art, creativity, and science,” says Pascual, the former chair
of the History Department of University of San Carlos.

He is also the brother of the late Hidelito Pascual, lawyer and columnist of Cebu Daily News.

While it started as a communal gathering, the direction was uncertain.

So yes, a little history you wouldn’t mind. Pascual recalls: “The same question that was in the minds of many, what is the parade for?

After several discussions, eco friendly minds suggested that instead of gas torches, Led lights be used, instead.

This was also the time when lighters had a small led light at the bottom and was cheap.

To encourage participation, a competition was proposed, and thus, it evolved into the ‘Dancing Lights Competition’.”

“But I will make sure that it will cater to the primal nature of humans.

Like the moth, we get excited when we see bright lights,” he continues on his preparation for another grand lights performance this December.

“Sinanduloy has been incorporating the element of light in Sinulog as early as 2004 where we had the entire altar filled with bulbs but went unnoticed because we reached the Abellana stadium at two in the afternoon.

We have also been using light reflecting stickers in our candles. Years 2012 to 2013 were really the time when our candles started using battery-powered bulbs.

I use light technology when it is essential. I have never really used lights to bring attention—bato bato sa langit.”

The ground demonstrations have already dwindled.

A bevy of men lines up into a human chain that paves the way for the Aegis members to walk toward the stage for a mini concert to cap off the night.

As soon as the singers cue in the first note of the opening act, I run my fingers on my cell to type a status on Facebook—“Ang halik mo, nami-miss ko. Bakit iniwan mo ako?”

The song has become the anthem of our lives, so like a standard operating procedure, Jojin Pascual hits the heart button first.

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