BE A HERO (BUT SANS CAPE) BY RINA JIMENEZ-DAVID

One of my favorite parts of the movie “The Incredibles” (Pixar/Walt Disney 2004) features costume designer Edna Mode (roughly modeled, it is said, on Hollywood’s Edith Head) explaining to Mr. Incredible why she refuses to design a reworked costume for him that features a cape.

There follows a short but hilarious presentation of the many mishaps that had injured, or worse, killed, several superheroes who were wearing capes that got caught in machinery, burst into flames, or enabled villains to ensnare them.

So a disappointed Mr. Incredible, who has taken the mundane identity of white-collar drone Bob Parr after the government bans all superhero activity, must content himself with a red-and-black, cape-less spandex outfit. Unknown to him, Madame Mode also designs similar costumes for the rest of the Parr family: his wife who was “Elastigirl” in her previous life, and their children Violet (powers: extrasensory projection), Dash (great speed) and the baby Jack-Jack (who may have the most incredible powers of all).

Back to real life. At a recent press con on the holding of the “Alviera Hero Camp” on Oct. 15-16, it was announced that the public is invited to take part in a weekend activity that invites everyone to “be a hero” in one’s imagination, if not in deed. But not, it turns out, in costume.

While participants are welcome to show up at the camp in superhero costumes, “elaborate costumes” (meaning, I suppose, costumes with capes and similar features) will not be allowed when visitors try out the rides and other features at the Sandbox leisure complex in Alviera.

Sounding much like Edna Mode in the movie, the organizers point out that such costumes “might restrict your movement or worse, and safety is our top priority. As a precaution, it might be best to leave your secret identity in your vehicles or in your tents.”

That caveat aside, it is easy enough to assume a hero identity should you choose to participate in the Alviera Hero Camp.
Described as a camping weekend “in the great outdoors of Alviera in Porac, Pampanga,” the event will not just enable participants to engage in physical adventure and learning activities. Taking part in the “Hero Camp” will also enable them to contribute in a concrete, significant way to the welfare of the country’s “heroes in arms.”

A percentage of sales will be going to HERO Foundation, which provides “for the education and welfare of children and dependent siblings of soldiers who have fallen or have been permanently incapacitated in the line of duty.” Specifically, the proceeds from the Hero Camp will go to the foundation’s educational assistance programs. Selected beneficiaries will be taking part in the Hero Camp as well.
But paying participants will get their money’s worth. Aside from enjoying the SandBox adventure park attractions, including several exciting rides, they will also undergo a “hero training crash course,” superhero movies under the night sky, stargazing with astronomers, and sessions creating their own hero costumes.

There are two types of packages for those wanting to take part in the Hero Camp.
The “Day Adventurer” and “Weekend Camper” packages both include four rides in SandBox attractions during their stay, including the Rollercoaster Zipline, the 10-meter-high Giant Swing, Aerial Walk and Adventure Tower for free fall, wall climbing and rappelling.

“Hero training” starts with Hero Basics 101, where experienced guides walk visitors through a rundown on nature survival skills. “KAPOW! Hero Combat training” will have martial arts masters teaching and demonstrating basic self-defense moves that heroes can practice on the spot. For the less physically inclined, young aspiring heroes can visit the Costume Crafting Corner where they’re encouraged to get creative in designing their own costumes, masks, capes, or hero logos. (Will Edna Mode be paying a visit?)

Another exciting site to visit is the Aqtiv Archery Challenge Maze where participants will confront a Monster Obstacle Course. Armed with bows and arrows, the young archers must target monsters while running through a maze and finish the course under time pressure.
Weekend campers will get to enjoy the evening’s Parade of Heroes, where they dress up in full costume and go trick-and-treating in participating booths and camp tents.

Later that night, they can take part in Superzoom Stargazing where, in partnership with the Mind Museum, they can learn all about heavenly bodies—identifying constellations, naked-eye stargazing with laser pointers, telescopic viewing of celestial bodies, night orienteering, and how to use instruments like planispheres and astrolabs.

The nighttime activities will be capped by a movie screening in the open air. With SandBox soon to begin evening operations on weekends, campers can also take their four free rides in the evening, which should certainly lend a whole new dimension to the theme park experience!

The Hero Camp, say organizers, was conceptualized as a way for “people to gain something positive in dressing up and changing into costume,” as kids (and kids-at-heart) are wont to do on Halloween. Jomi de Guzman, Alviera project development manager, explained that “this Halloween, we’d like to inspire families, especially the kids, to live purposely the way heroes do. So the concept grew from there, a camping weekend that is fun and thrilling, where everyone can discover the heroes in themselves.”

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