The Bests and the Pests in Oktoberfest

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

By: Jefferson Cruz

Never call yourself an alcoholic if you have never gone slurping beer in Oktoberfest. This famous festival in Munich, Germany has become the Westerners test of how long one could walk straight after taking pitchers of beer in one gulp. If you happen to consult a German dictionary and look up the word Oktoberfest, you will find its astonishing synonym – beer. No, I just made it up.

This year, the Germans celebrated their 177th Oktoberfest with the participation of 3.3 million people, 3.3 million liters of beer and 60 oxen (this has to be checked for accuracy. Sorry, I was drunk while writing this.).  In a perverted sense, if Pinoys have People Power in Edsa, Germans have beer power in Munich. Traditionally, Oktoberfest starts in the last days of September and ends in the first week of October, but since obsessive-compulsive Germans protested that Oktoberfest should start in October, a change in history has been made. Many agreed to this modification.

Naturally, humans put up a show for an effect to start a massive feast. That is exactly what transpires before Oktoberfest begins. Based on customs, male participants wear lederhosen while females put on their dirndls. These outfits are the traditional German attires. Tradition also requires a tapping of the first barrel of beer before exuberant participants could drink their heart out. After this formality on stage, Ein Prosit will be merrily sung every fifteen minutes. This will be followed by raising of mugs and wishes for a great celebration. Every participant will be drinking their beer merrily and will go merry-go-round the vicinity as if they know everyone. 

Because Pinoys are natural imitators, they also launched their own version of Oktoberfest. And this Filipinized Oktoberfest is being celebrated for God knows how long. The Oktoberfest wannabe starts with buying out of tickets to show to the organizers you’ve paid. As soon as you buy tickets, you can get in the venue and start drinking as much as you want. Beer is bottomless, but you can only drink it in the venue. No take-outs. The program starts anytime the organizers want it to start.  Rock bands compose the performers’ line-up for the program. And once rock artists start playing their angst provoking music, participants also start banging their heads, jumping up and down to show that they can relate and they are cool too. To affirm that they are real men, women in leather costumes have to come up on stage and show off feline movements. This demonstration adds up to the smell of testosterone in the air.  While men are busy initiating the commotion, bottles of beer are raised with loud shouts and screams. This barbaric act signifies that the participants are pleased.

The celebration will never be complete without exhibitions of machismo. Normally, just a simple stepping on someone’s foot or winking at someone’s girl leads to an explosive brawl which will be participated by the whole populace. There is a lesson in this phenomenon as observed by men who are now practicing sobriety: if you happen to crash into one of the many Oktoberfests in the Philippines, behave and never show a seemingly aggressive behavior. Just one bad word or boastful act could result into an enormous riot.

If you think you have seen the worst, wait until the celebration comes to a devastating conclusion. Oktoberfest wraps up with the hospitalization and detention of unruly participants. I call them Oktoberpests. No need to be alarmed, though. These unfortunate events are normal. You can never call it Oktoberfest if everything is in order. Crushing of skulls, cracking of bones and spurting of blood are actually the highlights of the celebration. Ein Prosit!


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