After 2 years of COVID lockdowns, Filipinos flock back to fun fairs

Jojo Riñoza
Dagupan, Philippines

A family purchases tickets to ride the ferris wheel at a “peryahan” (fun fair) in Dagupan City, northern Philippines, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Fair goers ride the giant swing in Dagupan City, northern Philippines, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Erica Melchor manages a game at the Dagupan City fair, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


An attendant waits for customers to get on the horror ride at the fun fair, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Smiles break out as fairgoers finish the horror ride, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Fairgoers in Dagupan City try their luck at a dart game, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Waiting for her turn, a girl runs around a ride at the fun fair, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


Customers take a dizzying ride on the giant swing at the fun fair, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]


An attendant glances out from a ticket booth illustrated with a giant skull, Dec. 12, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

Colorful lights brighten the dark sky as “peryahan,” or fun fairs, return to the Philippines this holiday season after more than two years of COVID-19 lockdowns. 

In northern Dagupan City, game attendant Gwen Aerish Lambino, 19, barks at customers to try their luck – toss a coin into a sphere and win a prize. Few players win, but many leave with smiles.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown nobody was allowed to get out of their homes. At least now, fun fairs can give the children something to enjoy, especially as Christmas is coming,” she told BenarNews. “Working at the ‘perya’ helps a lot to cover my daily expenses in school.” 

Lambino is paid about 250 pesos (U.S. $4.50) nightly. By day, she is studying tourism at a nearby university. 

“Peryahan” is a Filipino version of carnival that has been part of the culture dating back to Spanish colonial times.

Lambino’s colleague, Erica Melchor, 48, has been working at the fair for more than half her life. When the pandemic struck and the government banned all social activities, she was stuck at home and had to rely on often-delayed dole outs from the government. 

“I am very happy that the ‘peryahan’ is now open again,” she told BenarNews. “I have been working at the fun fair for 25 years now.” 

Both women have avoided contracting COVID, but with crowds back in full force, they fear they could get infected. 

“Adding some protection like a face mask adds to my safety,” Lambino said. 

The Philippines lifted COVID-19 lockdowns in March after nearly two years when the government reopened the economy and lowered pandemic restrictions. Foreign tourists have returned when the government ruled out additional lockdowns as it struggled to assist economic recovery. 

Authorities have continued vaccinating the population – more than 73 million of the country’s 110 million people have received at least their initial COVID-19 shots.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.