What was supposed to be an exciting and entertaining showcase of local and Asian performing acts concert was marred and eventually got (regretfully) cancelled by the organizing committee of the ASEAN Music Festival 2017 held at the Ayala Triangle last night, November 14th.
Thousands trooped the venue as early as 5PM since the music fest was FREE admission and it was a holiday.
Before 7PM showstart, the estimated crowd grew from hundreds to thousands more as people spilled out from the semi-covered venue fronting the Makati Stock Exchange going outward Ayala Avenue reaching the intersection of Paseo de Roxas.
Photo Credit: Raffy Asaya
Heavy crowd favorite Parokya Ni Edgar (PNE) kicked started the show with their old signature songs. Band leader Chito Miranda requested the crowd to cool down, behave, and not push each other since the people slowly became unruly and unmanageable.
I also witnessed a horrible stampede along Ayala Avenue fronting McDonald's and MSE as restless fans went over the metal barricades heading towards an empty space at the tail end of the crowd already inside the venue.
It was such a scary scene and I so worried on those who got hurt or got trampled upon by the charging crowd. Even the security assigned got helpless and outnumbered by the maddening crowd while manning the barricades.
Perhaps the BEST photo of the event taken by Anni Villanueva and it best sums up why the music fest got regretfully cancelled by the organizers.
What was expected as a 5,000 crowd became roughly 15,000 - 20,000! And there was lack of security to handle such a massive turn out.
After the unfinished set of Parokya Ni Edgar where Chito dit not finish singing "Harana" due to the becoming uncontrollable crowd, former Ms. Universe Venus Raj calmly requested the audience to be mindful of their fellow concert-goers and stop the pushing and shoving for fear that a stampede could break loose. Sadly, this was ignored by the crowd.
A stampede did occur in the middle of the set of PNE which at that time not everyone was aware of because the focus was the audience situated in front and all the way half way thru the crowd.
All of these happened in the first 40 minutes of the show, after which it was put on hold. Ms. Queng Reyes of PETA (Phil Educational Theater Association) took over and applied her crowd control and management skill. She prioritized the ones who were not feeling well as alarming reports reached the medical team that people were fainting to the point some of them experienced nosebleeding.
Some of the audience volunteered to leave due to the worsening situation and that's when around 9PM the regretful decision of show cancellation was decided and sounded off to the local and Asian performers to their disappointment and dismay.
Official statement from ASEAN Music Festival:
"For reason of public safety, we have stopped the show. People are slowly leaving the venue to go home. We are very sorry for the inconvenience". - ASEAN 50th National Organizing Council as delivered to the press by Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Gerardo Umayao.
After the show got stalled for two hours, the crowd sensed that the concert would no longer resume and slowly they began trickling out of the venue.
I personally hoped for the concert to resume by 9PM after noticing the audience more stable and since it was only a single that got through and to be fair with the rest of the artists. But our friends from PETA confirmed that even if they also wanted for the concert to resume, it was for utmost safety reason that it all boils down to cancellation.
Poor barricade! Proof that a real stampede occurred at the early start of the show. This misbehavior resulted to minor mishaps to some concert goers.
Despite the bad news, visiting Asian act, Asia 7 though disappointed was still all smiles as they pulled out their instruments onstage. They were supposed to be Performer #3. These guys were also concerned of the crowd's safety.
The Performers List was almost perfect!!!
Most of these Asian artists performing for the first time here in Manila include D’hask from Brunei, Nameth & Sophea from Cambodia, Mia Halida from Indonesia, Sack Cells from Laos PDR, Nading Rhapsody from Malaysia, Eint Chit from Myanmar, Asia 7 from Thailand, and Tuan Anh from Vietnam.
During the kick off conference, these grateful Asian performers expressed their honor of performing on behalf of their countries. Singing for the first time in the music fest are Nameth & Sophea together with Asia 7 and Tuan Anh.
Local bands Parokya ni Edgar, Ben & Ben, Franco, Sandwich, Ransom Collective and Silent Sanctuary represents Philippines.
I personally hope that this kind of eventuality no longer occur in the near future especially on the basis of an international event hosting.