To be honest, I didn’t really want to go to Enchanted Kingdom for the Sociology and Anthropology class field trip. I knew early on that watching stand-up comedians in their pang ookray or gawking at scantily clad macho dancers as they glide across the dance floor would be more of an interesting experience compared to just riding that same old boring roller coaster, Space Shuttle, over and over again. If I were to arrange the locations in order of interestingness, the gay bar would definitely be on top and Enchanted Kingdom would be at the bottom of the list. But as a matter of course, my parents didn’t have the same sentiments. As I was asking permission to join these class field trips (‘cause I wanted to go to all four locations), the conversation seemed to be going smoothly up until the moment they heard the word ‘bar’ come out of my mouth and they immediately shut me down and dismissed the conversation. Those are my buttoned-down parents and that’s how conservative and protective they are. I admit I was really upset at first, even angry. But in the end, I knew I had to concur with my parents’ decision and just make the best out of the trip. And so, I had no other choice but to go to Enchanted Kingdom.
Before the trip, I struggled to come up with an idea on how I’m going to conduct a “mini-ethnography” in a place I have been to countless times already. Frankly, I was uninspired. And even on the ride going to Enchanted Kingdom, I constantly dreaded the thought of having to write a commonplace essay afterwards. Conjuring up an original essay is no small feat especially when it’s about a place that has become straight up ordinary. Well, for me, that is. I kept thinking I would have nothing interesting enough to observe and to write about. The trip has just begun but I already felt stressed and defeated. Once we arrived at Enchanted Kingdom, we were faced with a number of people of all ages all gathered up at the entrance. People were taking pictures, barkadas were chatting it up and children were running around with their parents or yayas close by. I knew I came to the place looking dejected but that feeling petered out bit by bit. My classmates’ enthusiasm was undeniable and it was truly contagious. To be honest, in that moment when we were just about to enter the premises, I really did feel excited. The sight, the sounds, and basically the whole place call for excitement and giddiness. One can’t help but fall prey to the stupefying ambience. In my case, just being there actually made me forget about my initial worries. I decided to just go with the flow and hope that inspiration will strike me along the way.
One of the instructions for this field trip was to do a mini-ethnography through participant-observation. And participate, we did. We reckoned that since we were already in a theme park together as a block, it would make sense that we use this chance as well as possible to bond with each other. We all agreed to go on rides instead of just solely observing and standing there idly. Who says you can’t take pleasure in doing ethnographic fieldwork? My classmates and I chose to just go on only the most thrilling rides the place has to offer. This is, for the most part, because of the constraint on available time. The first ride we went on was the one nearest to the entrance and that is the Flying Fiesta. I’d rank it as intermediate and give it a six on the scale of scariness. We spent the next few hours going on the Space Shuttle, Rio Grande, Anchors Away, and again, on the Flying Fiesta. I can’t really remember the chronological order in which we went on these rides but I do remember that we managed to squeeze in a lunch break in the middle of all those activities. It was an enjoyable experience all in all.
In the course of all these rides, there was this one particular moment that I remember the most. It was during our Space Shuttle ride where my blockmates and I were able to see Julio at his most vulnerable. While waiting in line for the ride, he was already shaking uncontrollably and was sweating profusely. We kept asking him, “Okay ka lang Julio? Kaya pa?” And he’d reply, “Guys, pwede pa bang magback out?” Needless to say, we didn’t let him. We were making fun of him because he was acting like a sissy, almost like an antithesis of his usual audacious self. In my mind, I knew that he was genuinely scared but he eventually went on it anyway. And then it struck me. The question of why people choose to go through all the drama and stress of riding a roller coaster and then go back, wanting to go at it again and again and again.
The Space Shuttle, just like any other roller coaster, was made to scare people. We are locked to our seats without the choice of backing out as we plummet down the earth at heart-stopping speeds and go through twists and turns that have no other purpose other than to induce vomit. And more often than not, we end up liking it. People are drawn to the fact that roller coasters feel dangerous; they give the illusion that you’re in trouble when the truth is you are perfectly safe. We enjoy the thrill brought about by roller coasters in the same way we enjoy watching horror films. In thrill rides, some people feel like they’ve overcome their fear when in reality, there’s nothing to fear for these rides, according to statistics, are even safer than driving. Despite all these, some still choose not to engage in such fear-inducing rides. A person who enjoys these hair-raising rides might be deemed as out of his mind but experts say it is only natural for people to gauge the amount of fear they can bear since they find satisfaction by just seeing that they can go through the anxiety.
Here’s another memorable remark from Julio on our way back from the trip.
Sir Skilty: So, how was the experience?
Julio: Sir, it was titillating.
SA Section A