The Making of BoniFest 2020
The Making of BoniFest 2020
By Mila Astorga-Garcia
The Philippine Reporter
When FC-WJNet decided to hold BoniFest 2020 despite the Covid-19 situation, its members knew it was going to be a big challenge for everyone involved. For how does one try to organize once more an event that when first held, was participated in by several artists, writers, theatre participants and volunteers, a guest speaker from Manila, at the Toronto City Hall Chambers and Member’s Lounge, with altogether 160 people in attendance?
We decided we were going to use the Zoom platform and hold BoniFest online, thru an entirely videotaped presentation, except for the live portions: the emcees announcements, and the Q&A segment with our guest speaker.
Thus we contacted each of the volunteer participants willing to videotape themselves as they performed their part of the program, whether it was just a one-liner or an entire speech. The reason for this was to ensure that we would be able to put together a fully videotaped packaged presentation, with all the performance parts completely done, in anticipation of any possible Internet interruption during the actual event itself.
Our guest speaker Dr. Milagros C. Guerrero, respected historian and educator, who ideally was to deliver her prepared 20-minute live on Zoom, liked the idea of a pre-videotaped presentation, especially that she recognized the dismal state of the Internet and wifi access in the Philippines where she is based.
So we agreed that all the individual videotaped presentations would be sent to Lui Queaño, who was the central person to receive all the tapes and to organize them into a program planned and discussed by members of the BoniFest 2020 team.
Dr. Guerrero worked on her paper which included important findings not yet published in any Philippine history book. No wonder, many historians from the Philippines were excited to attend the BoniFest 2020 Zoom event to listen to her presentation, thus registering for it.
When most of the tapes were already submitted on deadline, Dr. Guerrero had a difficult time working on hers because the of deluge of three typhoons, including Ulysses that affected her work. She said Ulysses was the strongest typhoon she had ever experienced in her life. There was a time she could not be contacted as there was no phone or Internet access for days where she lived in the Philippines.
Finally, the organizers decided on Plan B, in the event Dr. Guerrero won’t be able to send her videotaped presentation by the extended deadline of November 27, when a preview of all tapes would be conducted. Plan B was for her to just submit the written document to be read by her as the document was flashed on screen.
Plan B it was, then, as just sending a videotaped message would be difficult enough because of its size and continuous wifi interruptions. So Dr. Guerrero and the Toronto organizers agreed to do the reading of her entire 20-minute paper which she confessed was about 30 minutes, by phone from her home in Quezon City, to a phone in Toronto, where her voice would be audio-taped. The taped speech would then be arranged so that her voice would coincide with the showing of the text onscreen.
On the morning of the event at 11:00 am EST, organizer Hermie Garcia and Queaño were connected on Zoom to connect with Dr. Guerrero. Garcia phoned by long distance Dr. Guerrero, who as agreed upon, read her 30-minute speech over the phone. Garcia in turn held his landline phone on speaker close to his desktop on Zoom so Queaño could tape it on the other end. He would then coordinate with the tech persons to flash the appropriate text and images to the screen on the actual Zoom event.
With the speech on tape, organizers were all set for BoniFest 2020. The plan was to play all the taped presentations and the live announcements were to be made by the emcee. When the Q&A period starts, Dr. Guerrero would come in live.
Everything turned out well in the first half of the program. Dr. Guerrero managed to join the Zoom event in time for the Q&A, but there was a problem with the audio set-up at her end. With the combined help of the tech persons and some volunteers in the audience who spontaneously assisted organizers fix the problem, somehow, Dr. Guerrero managed to be heard online to answer the questions, to the delight of her fans – some of them former students at the University of the Philippines, now historians and professors themselves. (See story by Patria Rivera, “Damayan rediscovered in meeting with Dr. Milagros C. Guerrero, historian”.
Some may not have appreciated the entire effort of making this event happen as planned, and may have been impatient during the time when technical difficulties were being fixed, but most of the audience, as can be seen on the Zoom video, displayed patience, understanding, and even laughed together at the sometimes humorous circumstances. It apparently was a worthwhile and fun night, especially to those who stayed on until the end of the three and a half hour Zoom session. It was apparent to many that everything was done in good faith, with good will and grace by everyone who had a stake on BoniFest 2020’s success.
See related stories:
Life of revolutionary hero commemorated with noted historian By Althea Manasan
Remembering the Katipunan Revolution By Milagros C. Guerrero, PhD
NOTEBOOK: People-powered movements make history By Hermie Garcia