School Fairs Suck

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mission Fair, School Fair, Mini Fair. We have a lot of names for this particular school activity, but no matter what it's called, it mostly sucks. The only reason why I have so many fond memories of it is because when I got to experienced it, I was young, gullible, and easily amused. Even then, I wouldn't really have it any other way, because hey, if it took me away from having to put up with reading books, wearing uniforms and eating shitty cantee - oh wait - scratch that one. In any case, anything that breaks the monotony of school life, be it a fair, a program, or the occasional threat of one of our antediluvian wooden buildings burning down due to embers coming from the canteen chimney, it's always more than welcome.

Minifairs are held once a year in our school, almost always under the premise that any income generated from the fair will be donated to the funds of our adopted missionary institutions. Everybody is welcome to put up their own booths for generating money from both students and visitors alike. For students in an all-boys school this is also an opportunity to convince ourselves that there are women in this world who aren't as old as our parents and teachers. (Something I did not fully understand until college) It's almost like visiting hours for a prison - except unlike prison visitation hours, mini fairs don't happen every day. To ensure the fair has constant population, students are required to attend at the threat of teacher-related retribution, and are not allowed to leave for a set amount of hours. Again, like prison. I'm not saying our school IS prison, but I bet if we annexed paranaque city jail we wouldn't least feel different.

Here are some of the things that are worth noting about minifairs in our school:

Chits - Chits are like the equivalent of Disney Dollars - they're the official currency of the mini fair. I don't know who it was that thought of it, but he or she should be commended for thinking of "chits". Bloody GENIUS.There are moneychangers at the entrance of the fairgrounds that exchange your money into flimsy token representatives of the money you should be holding in your hand. They are usually constructed with special paper that cannot be counterfeited since they're so easy to ruin, merely looking at them the wrong way can disintegrate them. So yeah, they're basically Disney Dollars, except you are not in Disneyland, and the chits are only valid for the one or two days that the fair is occurring. Come end of the weekend, your chits magically turn into bullchit. It's a one-way investment that's rigged to make you lose money. The basic idea of chits is - trap the population of a congressional district into an enclosed space half the size of a football field, and then refuse to accept Philippine pesos in any booth so people either use your currency or have them starve/get bored to death. Money comes in and it never comes out. Kim Jong Il and that Jew from The Merchant of Venice would be so proud.

Raffles - no minifair would be complete without raffles where nobody ever wins. I was in the school for ten years and never have I seen anybody even remotely related to me win anything. Not even a goddamn toaster. I figured the winners are actually also from the fair committee who, after claiming the prize, secretly return it back to the prize stash for next years fair. That damn toaster is probably older than me too. The raffle tickets are very cheap, but they are given as a whole booklet to every student who are then forced to SELL THEM TO EVERYBODY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Think about it. Each class in school has 40 kids. There are five sections for every level, six in gradeschool, four in highschool. that's 40 x 5 x 10 = 2000 children with 50 tickets each. 100,000 tickets all in all. The population of the entire CITY OF PARANAQUE - and this includes the farflung areas who couldn't give a shit about our school - during the 90s is pegged at about 400000. That means if the children of our school wanted to avoid having to buy our own tickets, we will have to sell a ticket to 1 out of four citizens of ParaƱaque, including Septuagenarians, retards, homeless people, and babies. YES IM MAD GOD DAMN IT. GIVE ME A MINUTE.


Okay, let's get a move on before I pop a nerve.

Food - The food is probably the reason why people buy chits. You can always starve yourself of entertainment, but not of food. To ensure that you're bound to go hungry, jail booths and "jailers" are put in place so the majority of people will be in constant tension and occassionally have to run. Apart from that, all students are required to do field demonstrations. We'll get to both of those in a moment. Back to food. Now food in minifairs is food when there is no minifair. The same shady-looking canteener who wouldn't look out of place in Tales from the Crypt is the same person cooking minifair food. The only difference is that prices are jacked up a notch, on the premise that "it's all for the mission". I can't help but think that the "mission" is a mission to strip you of any material belonging so we can all live like John The Baptist or something. To make things worse, since everything is traded by chits, it's not unusual to find that some store booths start running out of chits for change. So what do they do? They shift the currency to CANDY, as though it holds some sort of magical monetary value. Yeah, that's what children need. Less money, more sugar. Because really, fuck capitalism.

There are other guest food providers like Pizza Hut and Jollibee, but of course, they also have jacked up their prices. When you are a kid given a paltry allowance everyday, as is most of the kids back then, being able to afford a Chickenjoy is a sign of affluence. Being able to buy Chickenjoy DURING a fair when the prices are exoribtantly higher shows you have enough money to not give a shit. It's the ultimate symbol of luxury, the equivalent of overpriced cocaine for kids.

Program - Since we're not in a war and it's technically illegal for schools to detain non-students, the organizers are forced to prepare a program beforehand to "entice" outsiders to come into the school and pay the entrance fee. (Yes, they actually forced you to pay to enter school during fairs, even though you're a student, even though most of the time you're also helping out with some booths.) Anyway, my experiences came at about the time cable tv was just starting to take hold of people's attentions, so this wasn't so hard. All they had to do was invite "stars". By stars I mean not the A-listers, by stars I mean, "people who might or might not have appeared on TV on more than one occasion, and is probably related to one of the organizers by sheer luck". Still, their performances and mere appearance are more than enough to attract people.

Apart from the stars, students of all levels in gradeschool are also encouraged to do "field demonstration" which is something sort of an organized dance - which is kind of a misnomer considering all dances are supposed to be organized in one way or another. For FD's, organized means you have students of an entire level doing the same action formed in lines like the military, under the heat of the sun, forced to show the fruits of the labor of practicing for several weeks in lieu of actual academic work (which is okay too, I guess) to the parents, who for some reason always act bewelidered at the idea that their son can actually dance like everyody else in their level, or for the case of my parents, at the idea that their son cannot dance, period.

Thinking about it, Minifairs are just like longer versions of recess for us children, in the sense that it keeps us away from the classrooms, and that the amount of what we get from the experience depends on how far our allowances will go.

Okay, I've written a fairly long entry already, but I still haven't gone over the types of "booths" you can actually enjoy. Let's leave that for part 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

andrean sir? haha


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