Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
OR did it change tremendously?
I had been going to UP Fair since my college days with my best girl friends. After graduating from PUP, another state university, I adapted UP Fair as my annual Valentine’s Day celebration as a single woman. At some instances, I’d even go on February 14 itself, but always, with the company of women.
This year, I was more than excited for Roots, the closing music festival last February 17. I was determined not to miss it because the line-up was just awesome.
It included my all-time favorite alternative rock bands Franco and Urbandub, as well as my current young obsessions Ben&Ben and IV of Spades, which would be my first live performance of them (although I missed the latter).
I was also excited to hear tide/edit, TheSunmanager, Pedicab, Autotelic and Orange and Lemons live once more. Of course, there was the iconic Aegis band as headliner.
Completing the line-up were veterans Sandwich and Imago, and newbies Shirebound and Busking, Stomachine, With Fingers Crossed, Wish Sticks, Capacities, Amara, and Son of a Peach!.
But come Roots, I couldn’t believe what I gotten myself into. A music festival with 14,000 attendees from in and out of the UP community! Yes, you read write, 14,000 and not just 4,000.
That wouldn’t have been an issue if not for the fact that the food and retail stalls also multiplied, and private organizations or corporations had bigger exhibitions, add to that the perya (fair) itself. All these left the huge crowd with a cramped concert space.
Gone were the UP Fair days where festival goers could still place mats on the ground to chill and rest—case in point, I even brought some sitting mats! So the grown-up (tita) in me, was left astonished. It was like a whole new world.
But was this good or bad?
According to the official website of the University of the Philippines, organizers intended to make a bigger, five-day festival:
“As early as the midyear (of 2017), consultations had been held with previous night handlers and a market analysis done to produce a bigger UP Fair in 2018.” (“All Is Fair in Rock and Roll,” December 13, 2017, www.up.edu.ph)
If numbers alone is the basis, then all is good—even for the better.
The seven host student organizations—UP Junior Marketing Association for Cosmos; UP Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants for Elements; UP Economics Society with UP Underground Music Society for Roots; UP Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity for Rev; UP Babaylan for Flames; and UP Advertising Core for official promotions—stayed true UP Fair’s cause, which is to celebrate Filipino musicality and artistry all the while generating awareness of national issues.
For this year, the UP Fair dedicated profits for chosen Muslim-Christian Agency for Advocacy, Relief and Development, Inc., which supports the rehabilitation of Marawi and the rise of its people. A total of P1,223,051 will be donated to the group.
“Each night handler has formed its advocacy team to ensure that each fair night will have a centerpiece campaign. In recent years, the UP Fair has raised funds for UP athletes and dormers, and this year, the primary beneficiary will be a local civic organization involved in the Marawi City rehabilitation. More than a fun night of musical performances, fairgoers may check out art and campaign installations, interactive game booths and food concessionaires.” (“All Is Fair in Rock and Roll,” December 13, 2017, www.up.edu.ph)
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have enough desire to go around Sunken Garden and see this booths simply because there was too much people.
Thankfully, there was still damn, good music care. Franco and Urbandub rocked the night with headbangin’, loud and heavy tunes. Aegis made the whole of UP sing their classics, which was amusing for majority of festival goers were Millennials!
Youngsters like IV of Spades, Autotelic, Shirebound and Busking, and Ben&Ben proved they were here to diversify the alternative Filipino music scene.
But in the end, I realized I’d rather hear my beloved bands in smaller venues where crowds are more intimate, chairs are ready for sitting, and beers are served below zero.
My UP Fair tradition had come to bittersweet farewell.