An over 3000 year-old tradition symbolizing prosperity, happiness and family reunions, Mid-Autumn Festival (MAF) last September 14–16 held by Ateneo Celadon. MAF was held in Zen Garden and on the fifth floor of the Rizal Library for the main festival and its culmination night respectively.
The Main Festival
The entrance to the festival grounds at the Zen Garden showcased an arc leading to the different stalls. After going through the registration booth, the first stop would be the “Shoot the Suns” stall. Inspired by the legend of MAF wherein the hero, Hou Yi, shot down nine of the ten suns with a bow and arrow to end the heat wave that affected the land. Participants had to relive the legend using a nerf gun to shoot down hanging styrofoam balls.
In the next stall, “Drink the Potion”, participants had to find the hidden potions presented on a poster As the legend goes, Hou Yi was given a potion of immortality as a reward by Wang Mu, the queen of the heavens, for his act of shooting down the suns. Hou Yi decides not to drink the potion though to stay with his love, Chang E, on earth, and just guard the potion. The action of finding the potion in the challenge came from Peng Meng, a traveler who Hou Yi met. She tried to find and drink the potion to attain immortality and nearly succeeded, but her plans were foiled by Chang E, who drank the potion to preserve Hou Yi‘s honor and dignity.
The following stall’s legend is a continuation of Chang E’s fate. After Chang E drank the potion, she should have gone to the heavens and become a goddess, but her love for Hou Yi made her stop halfway and settle on the moon. Every year, in honor of Chang E’s love for Hou Yi and her bravery, the people of her village would light up enough lanterns that could fill the sky and make a bridge so that Hou Yi and Chang E could spend a night together. On the booth “Lantern Bridge,” participants are asked to cut out a lantern and tie it to the steel frame above them. By the end of the event, a beautiful lantern bridge was made to connect the two lovers’ hearts.
There are other stalls that gave excitement to the main festival. There was the “Dice of Fortune” that tests your luck through a dice game, and the “Lunar Hoops,” which tests your skill by making you shoot hoops. Finally, after all is said and done, the hard earned points that the participants have acquired from the different booths could be traded with various snacks, courtesy of our sponsors, from the prize booth.
When asked how they envisioned this day-time festival to be, one of the project heads, Beatrix Santiago, said that, “We wanted people to go to MAF and come out not only with tons of freebies but also with that knowledge and awareness of the traditions and why we do these. And ultimately we wanted people to feel and know that MAF is not just for Celadoneans. We wanted to make everyone feel that, even though we come from different backgrounds, we can all still come together, share our experiences, and become an even better family.”
“Were we able to share the Chinese-Filipino culture in a fun and relate-able way? Yes, I believe that the booths were able tell the tale about Mid-Autumn Festival, and that the attendees were able to immerse themselves in the culture,” says Vice President for Cultural Affairs Eugene Andojoyan about the success of the main festival.
The Culmination Night
As the sun set and the moon rose on September 16, it was time for MAF’s Culmination Night. Hosts Isaac Cheung and Candice Tan started the evening with a warm welcome, which was followed by a prayer by Project Head Aaron Chua, and a short message from the Celadon President Stephanie Sayson. After the message, the program made its way into an array of parlor games, where participants who won were given packs of Dynamite candy.
Dinner followed as the hosts announced the tables who were going to line up for the food one after another. A series of musical performances kept everyone entertained during dinner. The first was from siblings Sherry and Sean Gonida. The second performance was from a band composed of Joshe Tiu, Carlo Tong, and Rika Ueno. The third performance was a solo saxophone instrumental from Joshe Tiu, who serenaded everyone in the room. Lastly, a fashion show ensued wherein models showed off the latest Celadon merchandise.
After all the performances, it was time to start the dice games or Pua Tiong Chiu in Chinese. After the mechanics were explained, tension and excitement was everywhere with a Virtual Reality set on the line as the grand prize for each table. After a intense battle of dice rolling, 20 people who won the grand prize had a chance to win a Starmobile phone and six Herschel bags simply by eating! The final game called for the participants to eat a siopao and a mooncake as fast as possible. The first one to finish wins the phone, and each of the six following finishers can claim a Herschel bag for themselves!
As the celebration came to a close, Dianne Tan, one of the project heads, made her closing statement, then left it to the hosts to officially wrap up the MAF Culmination Night.
Jonabelle Chua, a student from the Ateneo, shared, “Overall the event was fun and well organized. There was a proper program flow; the venue, the food, and the prizes were excellent. I’m looking forward to attending next year’s MAF!”
“I felt the happiness of people around me; their laughter for me was a great indication of success for me!” expressed Aaron Chua.
Stephanie Sayson gave us her thoughts on this year’s MAF, saying, “Most bonggang MAF I’ve ever attended! From decor to prizes to other games beside the dice game, super kudos to the team’s hard work as it evidently paid off! I’m already anticipating next year’s.”
Watch Chinoy TV’s feature of the Mid-Autumn Festival here:
Written by Timothy Tia
Photos by Mark Yu, Chenelle Co, Lucas Po, Brittney Ong, and Joshua Cheng