(WARNING: This story has potentially upsetting content. Readers should exercise caution.)

The Pasinggatan Festival, which marked Taytay town’s 400th founding anniversary, took a troubling turn on Tuesday, May 2, as nearly 90 participants reportedly fainted during what was described as an intense drum and lyre competition.

While the Municipal Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) and the Municipal Health Office (MHO) provided medical assistance to the victims, some participants were dissatisfied with how the event organizers managed the situation.

Contestants from a school in Puerto Princesa expressed their discontent with the competition’s schedule to Palawan News, stating that they were forced to participate in a morning parade, which pushed the start of the competition to lunchtime.

“Before yung competition nag parade pa ulit. 6 a.m. po call time, Around 7 or 8 po nagstart, tapos 10 na nakapag simula yung competition. Wala pong lunch break. Tuloy tuloy po (Before the competition, there was another parade. The call time was at 6 a.m., it started around 7 or 8, and the competition proper began at 10. There was no lunch break, and it proceeded non-stop),” the participant said.

Based on the schedule of activities released by the municipal government last April, the drum and lyre competition is supposed to be held on Thursday, May 4.

The contestants were unable to provide a reason for why the competition was rescheduled to an earlier date.

Some parents of the participants also expressed their disappointment with the organizers who blamed the contestants for what happened.

“Nag message po isa sa committee kanina sa awarding na hindi daw nila kasalanan yung mga nangyari kasi daw yung ibang students hindi daw kumain ng breakfast, walang lunch, di uminom tubig, at saka puyat daw po (One of the committee members messaged earlier during the awarding ceremony, saying that the incidents were not their fault because some of the students did not eat breakfast, did not have lunch, did not drink water, and were sleep deprived),” a parent said

They said the unidentified official who addressed the participants “on behalf of the committee” even said “tigilan ang pagmamaritess”, or refrain from bickering about the incident instead of apologizing for their shortcomings.