Philippine fiestas are main attractions in the country the whole year round. They are enthralling to watch, especially to foreigners. But don’t get too absorbed in them; it pays to watch one’s back—or front.
Stampedes do happen in crowded celebrations, and fiesta celebrations are often crowded occasions. Before the thrilling fiesta scenes completely drag one away to oblivion, remember to consider stampede precautions in a crowded fiesta celebration. It may be a happy fiesta crowd, but crowds are unpredictable; one minute it is vibrantly sweet, the next it may turn sour and violently come after people like stampeding wild cows.
Stampedes happen without warning in fiesta celebrations. They happen even without provocation. Just one guy stumbling over a too crowded fiesta celebration and a domino effect might lead to a full-blown fateful stampede. It has happened quite a number of times. Even the most solemn fiesta procession, like the Black Nazarene Fiesta in Quiapo, Manila among others, ended up in fatal tragedy.
The best precaution against a fiesta celebration stampede is to avoid getting too close to the idol being marched around the streets—it’s the spot where a dense fiesta crowd is likely to stumble on one another, especially when provoked. Another is to keep a stance wide enough to secure body balance. Be alert; when people get too crowded start to keep distance. Never mind if the procession gets past ahead.
If in case a fiesta celebration stampede happens and one is right in the middle of it, look for a safe cover—stand against a post or column, stand against a wall, get under a table, or hold on to something sturdy. Or, if with a group, stand around each other with wide stances to buttress one another against a pressing fiesta crowd.
If unfortunately one falls down on the ground in a fiesta stampede, the best option is never lie flat on one’s back. Always lie sideways, bend the trunk and legs, and protect your chest, side ribs, head and throat, with both bended arms covering them as in a boxing defense or “rope” posture. Stampedes, especially in fiesta celebrations, become fatal when people are stepped on the chest or head or throat by panicking people.
Fiesta celebrations are thrilling events worth keeping as treasured memories. Lots of fiesta fans take pictures of themselves right in a fiesta crowd to stash later in albums; just make sure the fiesta celebration photos don’t end up in the morning’s headlines.