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Booth activities have been a staple occurrence in just about every university’s Founders Day celebrations, but in Silliman the ever fun-loving students have taken the festivities one whole notch higher—as in Silliman’s Hibalag, located at the Ravello field (it’s outside the gym), where all the students go to have fun and let loose. No surprise that the whole shebang is rushed by practically everybody in Dumaguete: somewhat fresh in the collective memory of the older generations is the Centennial Celebration last 2001, which boasted troops of parachutists showing off in an aerial celebration at the Cimafranca football field and a performance from the big OPM bands at the time, to name a few. And so, every year since then has been a continuous effort to upstage the year before, to the benefit of the students—most especially to the uninitiated.
A cursory inspection of the Hibalag booth area reveals a bevy of—well—booths, in the simple design of the classic bahay¬-kubo, walled by bamboo logs nailed to other bamboo logs, roofed by strips of thatched bamboo—all of which designed to cater to the students’ wide range of tastes and preferences. The booths come in many shapes and sizes and configurations: some are in the common kubo mode, others are more elaborate—made and painted to look like boats and bell towers and churches—while others are very fixated on size—the tallest booth is four stories tall—making people wonder where these students have gotten their hidden capabilities for engineering and design. Multi-purpose booths that they are, the huts cover nearly all PG fields of interests. There are several trinket shops selling handcrafted necklaces and bracelets and purses and even shoulder bags, there are a couple or so offering henna tattoo parlors with designs ranging from abstract lines to more intricate figures and symbols, there are booths selling exhilaration through their wall-climbing rigs (there are safety equipment on hand, so don’t worry) and their rappelling platforms—and so it is that for the most extroverted Sillimanian hungry for excitement or for the most introverted Sillimanian whose idea of a good time is to sit down comfortably and drink something cool for hours, the Hibalag booths will satisfy them all.
Aside from the booth activities, there are grander events prepared for the students’ enjoyment—which may be the main events and crowd-pleasers of the whole festival, if one stops to think about it. These events are on specific dates, so to everybody curious, here are some of the big draws lined up for Hibalag 2013: there is the Silliman Idol, the university’s version of those popular live singing competitions, on August 27. The participants have made it through earlier rounds of screening, and are thus ready to wow audiences with their singing prowess—who knows, maybe the winner may go on to become a famous recording artist: there is a pleasure in witnessing someone rise to fame right from the very beginning. Another event is Mr. Hibalag 2013 on August 28, the men’s version of the prestigious Ms. Silliman pageant—the Mr. Hibalag was originally conceived as a humorous take on the beauty pageant idea, but over time has become a semi-serious competition in its own right, with its candidates even boasting their own sets of advocacies: though in this case, the word ‘semi-serious’ may be the key, since a sense of humor makes a man even better-looking.
And to cap off the festivities, the Bell Tower Project—a conglomeration of Dumagueteño rock bands, composed of The Spacepets, Enchi, Finpot, 5Volts, Trigger Gypsies, Hopia, and The Chocodog Invasion—are playing on August 29, in what should be an exhibition of the musical talents and predilections (primarily rock) of the city’s youth. There is no better venue for a Sillimanian to support the Dumaguete musical scene than at the Hibalag Festival—practically the biggest student event in the university.
What’s left to expect from Hibalag, then?