By Tara Zamora
Are they just in it for the drinks? Because if we take into account a typical socialite for example, it is commonly assumed that the main reason he/she would be in a “free-flowing-drinks” event is for the liquor and the liquor alone, because with liquor, it is believed by frequent party goers, comes everything else.
The Octoberfest, known for having series of events and parties with free-flowing beer held annually in the Philippines is an excellent case of study, one of its event in Makati for example. If one would step out and look at an entire event in an overall view, it would basically be seen as a typical social party; the bar at the center, some cushions to be sat on, some tables, and basically some extra space for social purposes. In the midst of this typicality however, is one missing element that would crash all previous assumptions regarding Octoberfest itself and its dependance to socialites and their pleasure for beer and liquor- what we call the “typical socialites” are missing. “Where are the people on their killer heels and those with their heavy make up? Where are the men on their expensive scented polos and bunch of girls?”, some of the questions one may end up thinking of if not being uttered aloud. Everything could be the way it’s expected to be but the people in it; German Philippine settlers with their warm smiles, head bouncing, feet restless, and commoners with their casual outfits, some just coming from work and some probably just coming from a leisurely walk in the mall. Suddenly, there would be a shift from what at first would seem like another high-end, wild party to a simple partial indoor-outdoor event; people dropping by, grabbing drinks, chatting, dancing a little, jamming along the music, often the beat of traditional drums, and basically just making all strangers friends. It would almost seem like an actual real community.
After all, the concept of a beer festival first started in a community, one that just wanted to celebrate royalty and freedom, one that is in Germany. It would be quite amusing that such a liquor-driven event like the Octoberfest actually has deeper historical significance with a spirit that’s been tried to be brought up over and over again; for the Germans as a sense of culture and a sense of being home amidst a completely different place, and for the Filipinos who is as well in seek of some sense of belonging, a community, a harmonious place to be with regular friends and not just with high profiled acquaintances that may exposed them vulnerable to judgements. The beat of the drums fills the air with a sort of rhythm that makes everyone clap at the same time, jump at the same time, wave at the same time, all in perfect timing. It’s the unity and camaraderie that makes Octoberfest different from any other wild parties, and it’s also this that keeps Filipinos coming back.
Beer festivals didn’t originate in our culture, but it continued to exist in Philippine society today. Octoberfest is alive not because socialites love it but because Filipinos need it. Within a nation with so much disputes, debates, and arguments, we hold on to places that makes us feel somehow united with others. Germans tend to hold on to their culture, we tend to hold on the concept of their culture, that is to get silly together, fueled by beer, we are ripped off with any intentions of trying to be called “cool” or “sosyal”, we live by the moment and we dwell in the comfort of security that we are strong because there are plenty of us together.
The misconception just started when the attempt to commercialize it began. It started being held as beer-tasting exhibitions for beer corporatopns. In the Philippines’ case, it may be San Miguel or Beer na Beer. The Octoberfest became one of the advertising strategies taken into a high extent that in some events, the traditional jamming have even been replaced with local bands and rockstars. What we witnessed here however, is a more traditionally preserved one where most of the German groups in the Philippines meet year by year and Filipinos are thankful for this.
Let us consider this incident: As the night goes deeper, there would still be constant laughter, energy, and drumming. The Beer station would had been emptied for already an hour and no one would be leaving yet. One light-hearted person would chip in a bucket and another one would do the same thing, people would keep contributing for drinks and ice until there would be again enough for everyone. The gathering would continue for the rest of the night until early morning.
Octoberfest, thus, is in continuos practice because of one thing that has just been confirmed- people are not just in it for the beer.