Letting go and lighting the way at the Yipeng Lantern Festival

SAMSUNG CSC Over time we become attached to people and places, beliefs and burdens, things and trepidations because they become our markers for meaning. A point of reference for us to gauge who we are.

But what happens when we evolve? Do our attachments hold us back or enable us to grow? Letting go is one of the hardest things to learn. 

This was how I felt after releasing 1 out of 3,000 paper lanterns, which lit the sky on fire when I went to the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai last year. What started out as something to check off my bucket list became an exercise in letting go. Yipeng5It all happened so fast.

My journey to Chiang Mai started as a spur of the moment decision. I’ve always wanted to attend the Lantern Festival, but I wasn’t available for the international festival date. Luckily my sister who was already in Thailand messaged me the local date, which was happening only a few days away!

After some internal debate about the cost I ended up booking anyway just one day before my departure. And even though buying 4 airplane tickets for a 2 day trip and sleeping overnight at the airport might not be practical, I knew that once-in-a-life-time experiences never are.

Afterwards, every moment leading up to the festival was about waiting.

We waited underneath our makeshift tent of scarves, in the scorching sun, for more than 6 hours. SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC We waited until the procession of monks indicated the start of the ceremony. Yipeng3 Even when the speakers blasted, “Do not light your lantern until we give the signal,” we waited some more.

Our patience was growing thin so we passed time by chanting along with the monks while shifting our weight between kneeling positions. Then finally the loudspeaker blasted the signal. We could finally spark our lanterns. SAMSUNG CSC I was so engrossed in the moment of trying to light my lantern that I almost forgot to look up at the sky. But when I did I was speechless yet overcome with awe and rapture. YiPeng One-by-one the lanterns floated into horizon, like messengers of goodwill delivering our wishes to the universe above; a surreal sea of floating lanterns; a sky burning at the seams with positive energy. I felt so alive witnessing gratitude and hope multiplied by the thousands of wishes floating in the sky.Yipeng4 Me? Well, I held onto my lantern long enough to channel all the people and places, beliefs and burdens, things and trepidations that no longer mattered to me into the fire. Yipeng2 Then I let go not only of my lantern but also of all the parts of my life that don’t serve me anymore. Because I realised that if we don’t let go, hope will never be free to light the way. And if I didn’t let go, I wouldn’t have felt so alive.

Generation MMF (Manila Music Festival)

It’s an exciting time to be in the Philippines! Lets go generation MMF. My article on ManilaLive.

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Indeed it was a hipster-esque site at the Manila Music Festival (MMF), where people trickled in with their best Coachella or Glastonbury inspired attire of wife beater sandos, bohemian tops, boots and the like.

But after its historic start last May 1, 2012, MMF has what it takes to make indie’s crew of talented artists go from underappreciated niche to a mainstream statement.

So as the day unfolded into night and spilled over till the wee hours of the morning, beyond the Manila Bay skyline the MMF became a sunset of possibilities – a promise of tomorrow and the allure being part of something bigger than the moment.

Because the truth is that MMF is not just about us – the festival-goers and the talented crop of artists and musicians – rather it’s about the Philippines and what Filipinos have to offer.

MMF paints a picturesque future for the local art and music industry.

MMF gets down and dirty

MMF is organized by Volume Unit Entertainment (VUE), the maestros that brought more than 3,000 visitors flocking to the Malasimbo Music Festival last March in Puerto Galera.

“MMF will help us further in creating a buzz in the Philippines, following in the footsteps of its older siblings Malasimbo,” said their CEO, Miro Grgic.

It was never a question of homegrown talent in the art and music scene, but the lack of conditions to enable its creative prowess to flourish.

Then what’s the remedying solution? Give the community the chance to get down and dirty.

Palms got sweaty; boots went dusty, stringy hair pulled back – all under the heat of summer and MMF.

“It’s very much a community effort, wherein many volunteers have learned very quickly about this developing industry and the best way to manage it,” adds Gric.

So despite groveling in a weird mix of stone, sand and sweat, you heard none of the attendees, artists, organizers and musicians complaining. They were all too busy dancing or singing.

A cause to rally

In cooperation with the Department of Tourism (DoT), a music festival is an innovative strategy that has international tourists flying in to catch world renowned acts like Afrika Bambaataa, the Amen-Ra of Hip Hop Culture and Father of Electro Funk, headlining the show.

But moreover, it attracts the Philippine crowd as well.  The place was crawling with personality– from movers and shakers in the industry to random friends you didn’t expect to be into this kind of ‘indie thing.’

“Because the hip hop scene is still growing here you don’t know who’s really into it. You don’t see them as often,” said international artist Dee Jae Paeste who has painted for the likes of Snoop Dog and Armani Exchange.

“This whole thing has the potential to blow up. Locals are looking for something different to rally behind,” said Christopher De Venecia, Philippine Star columnist and Lifestyle editor of Chalk Magazine.

Epicenters

With two stages and walls of graffiti floating in between, people were radiating from two epicenters, often crossing the diameter to experience music from a different part of the world.

The rockers found themselves at the main stage for live acts like Nameless Heroes, Kjwan, Sinosikat and June Marieezy, while the partyphiles were energized by the likes of DJ Skratchmark, and Kristia Hernabndez of the Red Bull stage.

Although the music was loud, and the fashion sense perhaps even louder, the atmosphere at MMF was laidback with people laying on banigs, or running around squirting each other with water guns.

Harmonic energy

“For me it’s not a performance. It’s just a jam.  It’s a very real environment. They just play the music and the people just appreciate it,” said dancer Phillip Pamintuan about his first impression of the festival.

Ironically, for a place cross-stitched with a variety of patterns and prints, musical tastes, nationalities, personalities and ways of dancing, MMF was murmuring with a calming harmonic energy.

There’s no right or wrong at MMF. It’s a venue to be entirely you in a community with others.

Future of Generation MMF

Although it was a decent turn out for MMF, there could definitely be a bigger crowd to fill up the empty spaces within the vicinity.

“I think spreading the word more and branching out to more different people so we can mix in music,” said Paeste.

To bolster the numbers, perhaps next year MMF can diversify and cater to a wider-range of people.

“The acts might have been too specific that people would have to research in order to appreciate and know who they were,” said Inky De Dios of Kjwan, who performed during MMF.

However, JJ “exld” Zamoranos, a graffiti artist for MMF was psyched because of the youth gathering. “A lot of young people are more appreciative of this kind of art,” he said.

While MMF was a good start, the untapped potential lays in virgin eyes and ears – those who are still unfamiliar with the audiovisual soundscape.

But if tomorrow starts today, with enough guidance and support, then the future of the local art and music industry in the Philippines may just lay in generation MMF.

View original article on ManilaLive.ph

Related article: Malasimbo Magic

Pictures by Rica S. Facundo and Gio Dionisio