From one anniversary to another: setting up the stage for ‘RITM @ 36’

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) celebrated its 36th anniversary from 17 to 21 April 2017 with the theme “Envisioning Potentials, Strengthening Performance”. The week-long affair was filled with various exciting activities. One of its highlights was the Mr. & Ms. RITM pageant held on 18 April 2017 at the RITM Auditorium. It was such a privilege to be part of the Physical Arrangement committee for that event, and all other happenings for the anniversary week.

The Stage Design

Just after my stint as one of the physical arrangers for the Quinceaňera celebration of the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL), I, together with Ma’am Thea, Ma’am Pao and Ma’am Rai, was tapped by Dr. Noel Macalalad, head of the Biologicals Manufacturing Division (BMD) and of the anniversary’s Planning Committee, to spill my creative juices onto the Institute’s birthday celebration. Apparently, Dr. Socorro Lupisan, Director of the Institute, was pleased with the decorations put up for NTRL at 15.

For a month prior to RITM’s anniversary celebration, we attended weekly meetings with the other committees. On the first meeting that was attended by Ma’am Thea, the RITM Communication & Engagement Office (CEO) presented four studies for the branding of the celebration. The attendees voted for the design they liked most, and the chosen one was our basis for the auditorium stage set-up. Furthermore, it was decided that the motif for the pageant would be gemstones. Hence, we had to comply with this theme as well.

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The final stage design

The anniversary logo, including the theme text, was made of Styrofoam board cut-outs (although I hate using such material because it is not environment-friendly) that were mounted onto the stage backdrop. The main logo was wrapped in alternating smooth and textured cyan metallic foils, cut into small triangles. They were glued and blow-dried onto the Styrofoam board cut-outs by Ma’am Pao, as if completing a jigsaw puzzle. This created a crystalline effect on the main logo.

NOTE: We were unable to make the “@” sign. We only discovered that it was left behind a day prior to the pageant, and we no longer had the time to create it.

Meanwhile, the theme text was painted in blue styropor paint. Once the paint dried completely, a few blue and cyan metallic foil cut-outs were either glued or taped onto the text to make it a bit reflective, but not too much that it would overpower the main logo.

We also crafted mobiles that were suspended on both sides of the logo. They were made of illustration boards, cut into squares and triangles, and spray-painted in gold and silver. The center-hole of each inner square was filled-in by a colored cellophane sheet to produce a stained glass effect.  Clear, acrylic beads were added to the ends of the mobiles as finishing touches.

The standees were provided by the CEO.

After seeing the final product of our hard work, we could not contain our emotions of pride and awe. We had our share of stresses whilst doing the stage design – we continued working at home even if it was the Holy Week break already, we took money from our own pockets for our unanticipated expenses, and we battled against the short time that we had to finish the decors. In the end, it all paid off, and we were able to beautify the auditorium stage for RITM’s anniversary week.

 The Pageant

The Mr. & Ms. RITM, organized by the CEO and the Dermatology Department of the Clinical Research Division (CRD), commenced a few minutes past one in the afternoon of 18 April 2017. It began with an invocation that was followed by opening remarks from Dr. Macalalad. Then, the candidates in their casual wear took over the stage and brought the entire house down.

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In his opening remarks, Dr. Macalalad acknowledged the efforts of everyone who made the anniversary celebration possible.

Five pairs competed for the coveted titles. They represented five divisions and offices – the Administrative & Finance Divisions, BMD, Director’s & Assistant Director’s Offices, CRD, and Laboratory Research Division. Aside from presenting themselves in their casual wear, they also walked the stage in their sports outfits and formal attire. Moreover, they showcased a wide variety of talents which amused the crowd.

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The Administrative & Finance Divisions entertained the crowd with a hip-hop dance routine.
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BMD sizzled with a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’-inspired number.
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CRD sang and danced to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’.
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The Director’s & Assistant Director’s Offices inspired the audience with this glitter art.
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The Laboratory Research Division made an acoustic duet of a number of songs. Both of them won Best in Talent.

The Dermatology Department also performed two intermission numbers:

After all the beauty categories, it was time for the brain. Almost all of the candidates did well in the Question & Answer portion of the pageant.

In the end, the following won special awards:

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Mr. Pons Kevin Soliveres, Administrative & Finance Divisions, is Mr. Photogenic.
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Ms. Jessabel Basa, BMD, is Ms. Photogenic.
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Mr. Mark Timbal, BMD, is Mr. Congeniality.
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Ms. Jessica Areola, CRD, is Ms. Congeniality.
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Mr. Mark Timbal, BMD, won Best in Sports Wear (Male).
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Ms. Marchelle Santos, Laboratory Research Division, won Best in Sports Wear (Female).
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Mr. Pons Kevin Soliveres, Administrative & Finance Divisions, won Best in Formal Attire.
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Ms. Marchelle Santos, Laboratory Research Division, won Best in Evening Gown.

Mr. Pons Kevin Soliveres, representative of the Administrative & Finance Divisions, and Ms. Jessabel Basa, from BMD, were named as first runners-up.

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The first runners-up

Mr. Crisantonimo Santos of the Laboratory Research Division (LRD) was hailed as Mr. RITM 2017, while his partner, Ms. Marchelle Santos, was crowned as Ms. RITM 2017. Both are from the Microbiology Department of LRD, and indeed, it was a back-to-back-to-back win for the Department. Their representatives also emerged victorious in Miss RITM 2015, and in the 2016 RITM Got Talent.

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Ladies and gents, the Mr. & Ms. RITM 2017.

The titleholders, as explained by Dr. Macalalad, will be representing the Institute for the entire year, especially for the DOH Hospitals Week.


Congratulations to RITM for its 36 years of service to the Filipino people, and to us, as well, for contributing to the success of the Institute’s anniversary celebration. Despite all of the stresses, we were able to deliver. I guess the feeling of being amazed by our own work is enough compensation. Kudos, and cheers to us, Perez Events Co.

For more photos, head on to my profile:

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