Wednesday, April 23, 2008

May Fever

‘Tis the (fiesta) season for us Filipinos and preparations for May events such as Santa Cruzan and Inter-Barangay Basketball Contests occupy the minds of busybodies in every community. Inevitably, all these boil down to one matter of concern: funding (we are in the Philippines, after all). To an ordinary citizen such as myself, it means a flurry of solicitation letters and envelopes all begging to be filled with crisp peso bills.

One particularly warm and humid day, I found six envelopes on the divider. Wait, didn’t we just give money last night for the Santa Cruzan? It turns out it was for a different purpose. I read the print on the back: “Most Popular Teenage (sic)”, and below it, the name of the contestant.

Most popular teenage what? I asked myself.

Most popular teenage mutant ninja turtle?

Most popular teenage minion of the antichrist?

The organizers didn’t even bother to correct the error. They could’ve just said “Most Popular Teen” or “Most Popular Teenager” (maybe they just missed the R). I know this type of competition- they are not like the usual beauty pageant wherein the contestants undergo some sort of screening and do the whole shebang: interviews, talent portions, and question-and-answer portions to test their intelligence and poise under pressure. Nevermind the beauty requirement too, because it isn’t necessary.

It goes this way: months before the “pageant night”, the contestants give solicitation envelopes to every single person she knows in an effort to get a “vote”. The title of course, goes to the contestant who raised the biggest amount. Perhaps they should consider changing the name to “Most Number of OFW Relatives” or “My Folks Own Most of the Businesses in this Town” contest.

The night of reckoning: everybody is gathered in the town square (where else?) as they wait for the winner to be “crowned”. But usually by comparing the ITR of the contestant’s parents and relatives, you’d already know who it is.

The contestants march on stage (with a cardboard-and-styrofoam backdrop, complete with tacky glitter paper) to strut their stuff. Cue music. A Vanessa Williams song released circa the eighties booms from the speaker.

Sometimes the snow comes down in June…”

And the girls walk around the stage trying to look graceful. Unfortunately, with the thick make-up that could put drag queens to shame, and dresses hurriedly sewn by a myopic sastre, they only succeeded in looking like a grotesque lineup of Disney princesses gone bad.

With smiles frozen on their faces, the emcees announce the winners.

“Third runner up is contestant number 5!”

Jeers and hoots from the audience.

“Miss so and so, escorted with (sic) Mr. Businessman will pin the sash.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Official will award the trophy.”

After the litany of supposedly important people giving the awards, the winner is finally announced.

“Most Popular Teenage is… contestant number 2!”

The audience cheer wildly. Old ladies nudge each other, just look at her! I heard her dress was even brought from Manila, said one bystander, proud of the bit of information which made her appear as though she knew the winner personally.

The winner, daughter of a local businessman, tries to look surprised. She conjures her face to give the Oh, I won! look. But of course, she already knew a week ahead. The girl’s parents garbed in their best clothes and decked in all their gold jewelry, beam as they walk upstage. Ah, the coronation of Most Popular Teenage.

Clap, clap, clap.


Anonymous said...

I once was part of the whole santacruzan in our town. It was a fun activity during summers..

chase / chubz said...

i had never seen or observed an event like this. only on TV. huhuhu.
hindi kasi uso dito.heheh


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