The following post was written by Miguel Zialcita, blogger for Pinoy Jeepney,
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE LOWELL
It’s that time of year! With the dates July 25 to 27 circled on your calendar, there’s no escaping the Lowell Folk Festival. It’s an integral part of your experience as an IP student (Lowell to IP is like Mecca to Muslims), or parent for the matter, and isn’t that way without reason. Lowell is vital to our school’s funds and is the culmination of scrupulous planning, management and effort. In a way, Lowell has become an entity of its own, requiring our utmost care and attention.
Such events demand heavy preparation like The Workshop. Perhaps sacrificing a beautiful Saturday afternoon to stab strips of meat and slice vegetables isn’t the greatest trade-off, but it needed to be completed. Everyone assembled and worked dutifully at his or her station, sweaty elbows bumping, occupied in conversation. An early 4 o’clock release testified to the group’s efficiency. Some of us teenagers decided to savor the gorgeous weather right after and held our own basketball and tennis games. There’s nothing like unwinding.
Then came the Folk Festival: our Superbowl. Hungry and curious stomachs lined the street, eager to taste Iskwelahang Pilipino’s selection of aromatic foods, served onto paper plates by amicable youngsters. Customers who had never heard of the school inquired. Others showed loyalty, claiming: “This our xth year of eating here!”.
IP’s booth is always a hub of activity. The simple idea of serving customers food is much more difficult than it sounds, since a spectrum of jobs are required to accomplish the task. A hardy group of men operate between the grills, smoke billowing into their faces. Parents team on the pancit and rice, while a table row of Titas fold lumpia and turon. However, crucial to the schematic is the participation of runners, whose job is to bridge input (cooks) to the output (servers). Runners must deliver heavy loads of rice or pancit, a physical toll on one’s back. When a particular food is empty, runners become the lifeline to the servers and customers by updating them on the next batch’s status. Upon delivery, their arrival is similar to that of Santa Claus to a child, bringing the much anticipated and fresh goods. Servers, who interact with the customer, are the faces of IP. They represent the school and, in the case of Lowell, our Filipino culture. Servers are mostly comprised of students, whose youthfulness project a cheerful attitude. Their smaller, quicker physique allows them to handle plates with dexterity.
Any bystander looking past the servers and behind the scenes might refer to our operations as a soup of chaos, considering the innumerable amounts of tools, equipment and labor. Personally, I’ve always wondered how someone from the outside might view our practically makeshift restaurant. It’s fascinating that in a span of three days, we can lay down our tents and claim a section of a street as home, well beyond outfitted. Our section even dedicates a portion of its space to the workers! But with big ambitions come big costs. The Titos and Titas that’ve tackled Lowell’s logistics deserve a nice applause, and thanks to their diligent management, our school can stay afloat. Maybe it’ll eat a bit of your weekend, but everyone needs to contribute, and hey, we have food! IP’s site in Lowell is truly an experience for customer or volunteer.