Sunday, April 6, 2014

Britophile’d: The Great British Festival

Crowds of smitten-by-Britain hearts—including mine and my friend Jo’s—managed to get a little taste of London-esque cloud nine during The Great British Festival at the Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City last March 8.

The festival consisted of trade fairs, a pop-up theatre troupe, musical performances of British-inspired local bands, fashion shows, cultural dances, sports lessons, and a Cinema at the Park. It ran for three days (March 7-9) and I attended for only one, but the stuff (both free and purse-emptying), the memories, and the nuggets of wisdom I pocketed home are more than enough! Here are bits and pieces of  my Very British Saturday:

Mini Ben

Mahomet can’t come to the mountain so the British embassy brought the mountain to Mahomet: UK in Miniature! (I’ll word my own proverbs, thank you very much.) The default response for miniature exhibits, of course, is a long queue of festival-goers waiting for their turn to take selfies. Here’s my first photo-op with the Big Mini Ben. Technically it’s part of a sponsor’s stall and not of the exhibit, but we like to pretend. :p


If there’s a legit UK Tourist Photo-Op Commandments booklet in existence (I mean come on, books more ridiculous than this get published everyday), I won’t be surprised if one of its top items would be: “Thou shalt not miss a chance to take your picture with/in the iconic red phone box.” Let’s just say I’m “obedient”. Special thanks to Lee Cooper for this cute kiosk, since it’s the only one in the festival than can be opened. People never left the area until the storeowners put a chain around it at the end of the day.

I sort of wished there’d been a TARDIS though.

I didn't break the balcony!
Anyway, we hopped to another area and saw this…part of the Balmoral Castle. I think it’s better if they brought the whole thing and not just the clock tower, but hey, the event’s free. I should stop throwing my beefs around. But I’d just like to say I didn’t break the styrofoam balcony railings there…

Jozilla Firefox
…Jo probably did. I kid, I kid! But I’m still calling this picture “Jo-zilla” because it’s cute and perfect.


with Apple

Then off we went to pseudo-Wiltshire, England, Taguig, to the Hobbits’ version of the Stonehenge. I was surprised to bump into Apple, one of the former interns of the magazine I worked for last year. We chitchatted for a while and I introduced her to Jo before doing what we should be doing there, which was to take pictures. Written on that paper she was holding was “Happy Now?”, a reference to Danny Wallace’s book called Yes Man. I’m happy to see her well, and I’m secretly thankful she made an unintentional book recommendation to me with that sign. :)


And then we came to my favorite stall. Everyone knows any British event is not British enough if it doesn’t have tea…also known as the reason why 3/4 the contents of my wallet vanished into thin air that day. The Twinings booth was replete with everything that could bring a smile to my face. At first I was eyeing the phone box canister you can acquire by buying two flavors, but I spotted a very classy caddie that I instantly fell in love with. Without any second thoughts, I bought it along with a box of Earl Grey and of  Apple + Cinnamon + Raisins tea. Jo on Sunday got herself the canister, along with boxes of White Tea and Strawberry + Mango tea.

Drinking iced tea from our paper cups, we strolled on the cobbled streets and stopped on booths that interested us. One of these is the Chevening Scholarship stall at the Education Pavilion.


It is no secret that I, Jo, and Kit (who unfortunately couldn’t join us because she had to be in Cebu for a cousin’s wedding), plan on going to UK to study. Miss Anna, the scholarships and digital diplomacy officer manning the booth, invited us to sit with a scholar to talk about what it is really like to experience UK education under their scholarship. And so we chatted with Sir Alex, a lawyer and a Chevening alumni.
Remember the “nuggets of wisdom” part I mentioned at the beginning of this entry? I wasn’t just talking about useless trivia and whatnot. I’m talking about eye-opening truths, about things that can make us realize it’s okay to slow down if ever we’re zipping by lightning-fast with our lives.

This deserves an entry of its own but in a nutshell, Sir Alex told us there’s no need to hurry. He said we’re young ; we have lots of years to do what we need to get where want to. The thing with this scholarship or with any masteral degree class is that you have to have something that can make you stand out. We have to build up, to fatten up our portfolios. The Chevening grant is usually given to those who have proven something, like people who have already published books or created a good documentary or film. Needless to say, it is common for students to have bunches of rewards and titles under their belts before they grow the cojones to apply. He reiterated that timing is everything. He didn’t put it into words, but I know he was not in favor of our decision to apply as soon as possible.

I’ll save more of my thoughts on this for another post, but I’ll say we’ve dropped the speed meter a few notches now, focusing on what he advised us.

“Chevening’s going to be here forever,” he even quipped. “No need to hurry.”

cinema at the park

After the sobering talk, we went to the Cinema at the Park and watched what was left of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone movie when we slumped on the grass.  We munched on the meatpies Mrs.Lovett Miss Anna has given us, trading a few inevitable remarks about our chat with Sir Alex.

Pop-up Theatre with Mini Kit

The sun was setting when we caught up with the pop-up theatre troupe…after they have performed their skit. Lucky us, eh? I only managed to snap a picture of this scene, where the cast fawned over a cute kid that looked a lot like Kit (peace! But it’s the truth!). Jo told me she got to watch their skit the next day. It’s a a part of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and that’s Claudio, Hero, Benedick, and Beatrice.

Nessy and the Humans

Nessy, of course, was there too. We know we wouldn’t win against the kids, but Jo still tried to take photo with the lovable monster. She did get one, but…

…yeah. Nessy’s camera-shy. :)

Rolls Royce-horz

Mini Pacman

And then we have these cars. If they’re not what you call ultra-sexy I don’t know what is. Can you see that? The Jaguar? That freaking Rolls Royce? They’re so hot they inspire our inner wacky criminals, as I and Joanna joked we’d hotwire them if we could. :p

F1 Simulation

Speaking of cars, they’ve got an F1 simulator too. There’s a long queue on Saturday night; Jo had signed up then, but since the stall’s going to close at 8:00PM, we decided that she take her turn on Sunday instead. It looked fun!


Near the miniature Tower Bridge at the entrance, there’s a small “arena” built for the sports enthusiasts at the event. Philippine Azkals players Phil and James Younghusband held Football drills Saturday morning while the Philippine Volcanoes held Rugby drills Sunday morning.

look up at the moon
We ate at Slappycakes, SM Aura and went back to the event to take a few more photos. Aside from getting chummy-ish with a Big(ger) Ben, we also found our gateway to Gaiman’s London Below! MIND THE GAP, bubs! As for that Buckingham one, I know I just have to include it. They’re so adorable, looking up and wondering about the moon like that!. :)

For a few more minutes we stayed to listen to the band She’s Only Sixteen before taking off to catch the bus going to Buendia. It was an exhausting but fun day, and both of us are already stoked for the next festival—which we’re praying they will still hold in 2015.

Jo will be posting her three-day British experience at her blog:


  1. OMG you have a British Festival? I don't know why I find that so strange, maybe cos i'm a Brit. Looks like you had fun :)


  2. Hi, Em! It isn't a yearly thing and I just discovered it last month, but yes, it exists here in our country! We had fun indeed. :)