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Fringe Manila 2020: Untethered Talent, Unhinged Creativity – What Went Down During the Biggest Uncensored Festival

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – There is a force stronger than anything in the world and that is the will of an artist to create. This has allowed them to live on beyond their lifetimes, and inspire multitudes with even just one performance.

February had been a tumbleweed of hundreds of creativity-themed events in celebration of the arts month; but unlike a tumbleweed wandering on an empty landscape, Fringe Manila 2020 was among those in the center spotlight, with artists, patrons of the arts, and newcomers just curious what the festival was about.

Bodabil

Sponsor

Teasing and eye-rolling seduction was the energy of Bodabil, because of the sirens of Burlesque Philippines stripteasing their way to their expression of the art form. With the audience unable to take their eyes off the artists, the performances proved that sexiness and sensuality takes different forms in its variety.

The likes of Lucky Rapscallion, Antoinette Noir, Baby Doll, and Paw Fin have told stories with the flow of their bodies, with their own style, snap, and sizzle. Whether be it by rapping, undressing, pole dancing, or use of props, the creatures of Burlesque were definitely a liberating sight to witness.

S2pid Love

Poetry might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but love is everyone’s favorite poetry subject if they ever had to do it. This was also S2pid Love’s pervading theme– the month of Valentines conveniently coinciding with the arts month. Young, emerging poets dedicated a night to making rhymes and setting poetic motion into the mundanity of sneaking back into one’s house, blasphemy, and even local ancient deities like Alunsina and Tungkung Langit.

Coupling the exhibition at Kondwi, Ralph Fonte, Regine Cabato, and Alfonso Manalastas teamed together to go beyond the usual Valentines gig– to explore the cloud nine and bottom pit of love. Among those who joined them as guest performers were Jeivi Nicdao, Jam Pascual, Deirdre Camba, Patti Ramos, Kid Orit, Chesca Hurtado, and Juan Ekis. A passage of Hurtado’s “Playing Wife” reads below:

Suddenly I wonder, “Does never marrying mean
never affording a color scheme for the living room?
Never having a living room?”
Well at least we already keep clean the kitchen counter,
At least that’s one more place to bend me over

In Paglayag

Literally meaning a journey, the film captured the island’s rich history tracing back the Moro’s influence in China’s Ming Dynasty in 1400; stories that aren’t necessarily found in history text books.

“I chose this as a form of solidarity that we are brothers and sisters in history and remain that way,” said the director of the documentary, Rhadem Musawah.

One of the lines that stuck with me from the documentary was this: “Sulu now is known for kidnappings when it was once a very glorious kingdom.”

Musawah admitted that there were so much to tell about the Mindanaoan culture, yet he chose this one for personal reasons of his immediate heritage. In Paglayag is only the start of inclusivity, not just in the setting of a classroom discussion, but as a deeper narrative.

Polysemy

We were at the opening night of Fringe when we met Ian Inoy. He had exchanged niceties with the adobo team despite the booming music that drowned our conversation. He was dressed in a crossbody belt made of leather and from what I gathered, he was a shibari artist (Japanese art of rope tying), and an environmentalist. We were immediately sold.

The day of his performance came, February 21, and it was set below the gutter (literally!) at GIG Beneath. We were handed confetti made of cloth, Ian’s performance space was marked by a tape similar to those used in crime scenes. And as soon as his act started, we threw our confetti beyond the line.

Accompanying him in his performance was Danielle Lopez, the dominatrix who demonstrated the full capacity of human’s ability to abuse by having Ian at her mercy. The duo likened their performance to the trap that people bring to the oceans, that when such empathy hit every individual in the room, only then did Danielle started to undo the ropes that bound her prey.

Linya

On the night of March 7, the exhibit space of Kondwi was loud, filled with percussive beats accompanying the performance by Ugnayan, a collective of artists. The performance called Linya was free-flowing, charismatic, and multidisciplinary—the audience was as free to move as the dancers.

Ugnayan is made up of people who shares a common passion for the arts; be it through art classes, exhibitions, or residency programs.

Although dance-like, it was more of artful movements placed together, following the body’s will to move. Painting was also injected into the performance. Choreographed by New York-based Filipina dancer Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, Linya was a dynamic night that had the audience immersed and dancing by the end of it.

Mayari

Mayari is a women’s self-protection program developed by Rapido Realismo Kali International Association which uses a woman’s strength against perpetrators of violence. Deeply experiential in nature, Mayari equips women with the basic moves to avert physical conflict, including setting of boundaries and using the element of surprise but what it does best is prioritize the mindset of survival in times of physical danger.

 

Fringe was a festival like no other–simultaneously squeezed with performances, exhibits, workshops, and film screenings. The calendar was filled to the brim, so much so that it leaves little air to breathe as it brings life and liberation not just to performers, but the audience members too. Each step left us gasping for air, wanting more.


adobo magazine is an official media partner of Fringe Manila 2020.

Photographs by Niña Venus

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