by ERVINCE APATAN
“Worst event ever in Davao. Hindi pinaghandaan ang pagdagsa ng mga tao. Nagka stampede pa sa Bago Aplaya entrance! (They did not anticipate this huge crowd. There was a stampede in Bago Aplaya entrance!)”
This comment made by Mcoy Cain on a news media’s Facebook page describe what 80,000 people felt when the 3-D drone light show during the Araw ng Dabaw Music and Arts festival last March 4 was postponed after people waited for hours.
(Editor’s note: Reports clarified that no stampede happened at the entrance of the show, but rather, there were a lot of shoving for people to get inside the venue.)
The drone light show was hyped as the first in the city, organized by Nightnings Event Productions, and was one of the most anticipated events. The event was staged along with a concert that featured 11 local artists, music from DJs and with plenty of food being served.
An event like this couldn’t have been more festive, or so what people thought.
Before the event started, there was chaos at the Bago Aplaya entrance. People shoving and pushing to get in. The show has not begun yet there were already tired faces among the people, especially among senior citizens and children who got pushed and shoved. There was weak and ineffective response from the organizers to this. The event area lacked proper directions, causing confusion amongst the people. Some people settled to just wait outside the venue for the light show.
The light show was supposed to start at 8:30 pm but the audience heard that there is delay.
The organizer of the event, Kat Dalisay-Santos, requested the audience to turn off the mobile data from their cellular phones as their signals had intercept the signal of the drones for the event.
“Palungi na lagi ninyo inyong mga data ba! Gikapoy nami hulat diria (Turn off your data please! We are all tired of waiting here).” These cries from the crowd created more tension. These people had arrived as early as 5:00 pm and yet, as hours went by, little by little, people anticipating the drone event have gone weary and frustrated despite the blinding lights and deafening sounds played by the DJ.
But at 11:45 pm, there was still no light show. The organizers announced that the drone show would be rescheduled.
All of these people had hopes for a good show and waited as late as 12 midnight. But as soon as the announcement came out that the drone show was postpone, people showing disgust and regretted coming to the festival.
The organizers estimated the crowd to have gone up to 80,000 as of 11:45 pm. Eighty thousand is such a massive number of people attending an event. It is understandable to have difficulty controlling such vast number of people. However, this technical difficulty should’ve been dealt with a concrete plan before the event. There have been no advisories or warnings made earlier on social media about the intercepting signals between the drones and mobile data. It was only made known during the event when it was harder to control the people.
But the struggles of the people did not end there. Upon leaving the area, the event had caused severe traffic and transportation problems. Some netizens posted on social media that they only arrived home as late as 5:00 am as they had difficulty finding a ride home.
These people went to an event with anticipation but went home with disappointment and frustration etched onto their faces.
The Manic Nightnings Event Productions announced that they will reschedule the light show. (Editors note: the event was later announced to have been postponed again.)
Events like this need concrete plans and fallbacks by both the event organizers and the government to prevent this failure from happening again. All the long queues, pushing and shoving, the lax and inefficient protocols happening, showed that the organizers, despite two months of preparation, failed for one night. There should be no room for error. Even if they did, we should’ve been spared from their negligence.(davaotoday.com)
Ervince Apatan is a member of Blue Bridge, the official student publication of the Ateneo de Davao-Senior High School.