A RakFest Memoir

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So this is Rakrakan Festival. I didn’t miss it this year, and after going to it this time, I’ll make it a point not to miss the next ones too.

I wasn’t supposed to go, but a friend of mine pushed that I should go because he said that I can’t miss it for the life of me.

Rakrakan Festival (or RakFest, per my friend) is that event that’s been going since 2013 to celebrate OPM. 120 Bands/Acts strong, all across 4 main stages, with a couple of other mini-stages in between. That one day where you can be a full-fledged supporter of music, and go all out – either you mosh with your favorite rock/metal act, swoon to your favorite indie artists, watch artists paint their heart out while they do live art, eat your fill of high-blood inducing meat based food, represent your favorite bands by buying their merchandise, or just plainly listen and fill yourself with the music and the environment. It’s the Philippine Music Culture in one place, for one night.

Now the problem with me. I don’t normally go to these big events least I was doing work as a photographer or as a correspondent. I didn’t even the have the means to go. I lost all hope of going since I don’t have a pass of some sort. There’s also one other reason why I was very hesitant to go – I go to these knowing that I can shoot photos, and I always have the itch to shoot.

Well, the “ME” thinking this way would be corrected soon enough – as it was my first time to be on such an event as Gen Ad (thanks to a friend who gave me a complimentary pass). I was not allowed to bring a camera, or if I did bring one, I’d have to leave it somewhere. Which I am not so keen to do since I am that much clingy with my stuff and really, you won’t be willing to leave an expensive and valuable piece of equipment just anywhere.

But regardless, I went, and it was one of the right choices I made for this year and for the years to come.

Let me just get stuff out of the way.

The signal for data in that place was AWFUL. REALLY REALLY AWFUL. That’s probably the reason why a lot of people wanting to meet their friends during the fest wasn’t able to do so. They can’t message each other via data since the signal SUCKED. BIG TIME. (although I didn’t try texting ’cause I didn’t have prepaid load, but it might’ve been a good option). I won’t be ranting about this if it didn’t affect me, but I got separated from my friends, and my only option was to message them using Data and guess what, I can’t. It was only after 2 hours when I gave up looking for them among the myriads of people that I chanced on them.

One more thing. Yes, I only have a complimentary pass, and I had difficulty getting that pass from my friend who was shooting inside the venue because of the signal, and it took me an hour. As I was already excited to go in, they suddenly had to stop people with complimentary passes from getting in because apparently, those passes are reused after somebody presents it to the entrance people to go in. Once they’re inside, they’d pass the complimentary pass to another person so it can be reused. The staff manning the entrance had to do security and crowd control measures. Really, it’s not a bad thing – they had to control the number of people going in, and we need to have our passes verified and they have to get it from us so it can’t be re-used. It just required patience on my end. But after so, I got in, and it was bliss.

It’s everything a music fan can ever hope for in a music festival. And a lot of people were in black. It’s given since the title of the event, after all, is RAKRAKAN FESTIVAL, and black clothes are almost synonymous with the genre. A friend posted on FB that he even overheard somebody asking where the concert venue was, in which he got an answer that told “sundan mo lang yung pinupuntahan nung mga naka itim”. Very stereotypical, but yes, it was on point.

It’s fantastic that the event did not limit genres. Albeit the Rakrakan Title and the stereotype, the event became an avenue for MUSIC IN GENERAL. You will find genres that don’t get normally mixed with each other, playing at the same time, having audiences of their own. The diversity is worth being in awe of. No stage lacked audiences. While Indie Music is playing in one area, you’ll get reggae feel-good vibes (and probably the high) beside it, after that, you can rock yourself to kingdom come, and mosh in the next.

They also did not limit the artistic medium; not only was it a place for music, it also became a place for art, and it’s everywhere – from the murals in the midst of it all to the stage lighting, the food you can buy, and even in the clothes that people wear. It hits all of your 5 senses. I’ll also include here all the media people working to put this thing altogether – photographers, videographers, stage managers, and the like.

After grabbing a 50 buck beer – oh hey let me mention that. I bought 2, it was so cheap and I find that beautiful. If I brought enough money to get wasted, I would’ve. knowing this, it was also worth mentioning that even if this was the case, you won’t find anybody going around running tipsy and uncontrollable. Really Really nice.

Now, back to the music; It was awesome finally seeing dicta license live, singing the songs I always played on repeat since I was college. Singing and headbanging along to “Ang Ating Araw” and to “Alay Sa Mga Nagkamalay Noong Dekada 90”, the college me came back to life for a moment.

But what topped this night for me was when I moshed to Slapshock while they were on stage. Slapshock’s music was my go-to music when I was in high school, and it helped me get thru a situation way back then that I couldn’t have gone thru if their music was not booming in my ears. I almost ran out of breath, and instead of screaming along with the crowd, I was barely getting air so my singing came more as a whisper. I even got an elbow to my lips. BUT. IT. WAS. SO. SICK. Dust was in the air, adrenaline ran from everybody, chants shouted all around me while I can hear the guitar and the vocals scream, it was very surreal. I couldn’t forget that moment.

So I left Rakrakan with a music lover’s heart filled with memories. Like what I told almost a year ago, after all, the best memories are stored in your brain (and in your heart), not a memory card. Although I recorded some moments on my phone, to help me write this, and keep a visual memory of that awesome night I won’t forget.

A lesson for me – I can enjoy stuff like this without having the itch to shoot. Yes, I did have a lot of those moments and looking at my timeline after Rakrakan, I won’t deny that I envied my photographer friends that got to shoot during that night. But thinking back, I won’t be free enough to enjoy the event as it is, and I probably won’t be writing this way if I wasn’t. Although, I’d still really jump for joy if I were to be given a pass for next year.

The Slogan for this year’s Rakrakan was OPM MUNA. We are Filipinos, and really, before listening to acts from another country, I believe we should support our own. There’s a lot of talent here. If you claim to be a music lover, you can’t miss any of this. You can start anytime, and you should go next year. YES, YOU SHOULD.

As for the people who claim that OPM IS DEAD; it’s okay to remain in your ignorant bliss. Really. Because the thousand-strong people that were there during the Rakrakan festival are enjoying and will go along just fine without you.