Cebuano ‘GOT’ fans gather to witness the beginning of the end
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - April 17, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Winter came in the middle of summer for Cebuano “Game of Thrones” fans as they gathered Monday, April 15, at the Fort San Pedro in Cebu City to witness the highly-anticipated final season premiere of the hit series.

Seated in the middle of the Fort San Pedro courtyard, die-hard fans slowly filtered into the venue, which if you squinted hard enough, was reminiscent of the fictional gardens of King’s Landing.

An adaptation of the book “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin from his series of fantasy novels – the first one being “Game of Thrones” – the fantasy-drama premiered on HBO in 2011 and has since churned out seven seasons, with the eighth one just fresh from the rolls and set to conclude by May.

The show is set on the fictional lands of Westeros and Essos, following the adventures of an ensemble cast and their interlocking plotlines which essentially form three story arcs: the alliances and conflicts among the noblemen in either pursuit of or freedom from the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms; the story of the last descendant of the exiled and deposed ruling dynasty, and their claim to the throne; and a threat from outside the realm (ancient wonders and an impending winter) mainly faced by the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch guarding the edge of the kingdom, but will soon become everyone’s problem.

With a powerhouse cast like Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Diana Rigg and Max von Sydow, among many other remarkable talents, the critically acclaimed show has received 47 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2015, 2016, and 2018, as well as awards and nominations like that of the three Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation from 2012 until 2014, a 2011 Peabody Award, and five nominations at the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series-Drama for 2012 and 2015 until 2018.

To warm up for the season 8 intro, “Game of Thrones” aficionados spent the afternoon with games and contests, meant to refresh their memory of previous seasons, as well as to indulge their creativity and ultimately raise the hype which will eventually lead to a viewing party in the evening dubbed “The Long Night.”

After some trivia questions, fans took part in the “Sigil Wars,” debating which family should be seated on the coveted Iron Throne. Needless to say, the clever Tyrion of House Lannister was the crowd’s top pick.

For special prizes, Cebuano fans recreated the best they could a famed “Dracarys” scene in the “And Now His Watch Is Ended” episode from the third season in which Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) completes the trade of her dragon to the slaver Kraznys in exchange for the Unsullied army.

Repeatedly insulted by the slaver, Daenerys turns the tables when she claims the slaver’s dialect as her mother tongue, and orders her new army to take the city of Astapor, kill the masters and free every slave in chains.

She then reclaims her dragon, setting the slaver Kraznys on her way. Following the bloodshed, Daenerys offers her new army freedom, tells them to either leave as they wish or fight for her as free men. The Unsullied stay, pounding their spears in unison and in support of their queen.

Sharing their favorite “Game of Thrones” moments, fans also did their best impersonations of their favorite characters, before having dinner and plopping onto the mats strewn all over the courtyard, squatting side by side to finally witness the beginning of the end.

Most of the viewers were young, some still wearing their university uniforms, others rushing from work and arriving just in time for the opening sequence.

Ryan Karl Tallo, a Communication graduate from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, took an interest to “Game of Thrones” because of the details.

“I found it really boring at first because there were a lot of names and a lot of things to bear in mind. You wouldn’t understand if you won’t pay attention to details. ‘Game of Thrones’ is the series for me because I’m really into details and the show is very keen on these,” Tallo shared.

He finds parallels between the show and reality, relating the scheming and animosity to the 2016 Philippine presidential elections. Tallo said that “Game of Thrones” is “political in nature” and that both people in real life and the show’s characters behaved the same way given similar circumstances.

For 19-year-old Cebu Institute of Technology-University students Vanessa Tejas and Alsons Dave Ledres, it was the show’s unpredictability and versatility that got them hooked. They credit its success to the world-building and storytelling.

“You can’t predict what happens especially when an episode ends with a cliffhanger. And the production is open to a variety of genres. They don’t hold back. Whatever the story needs, they show it,” said Tejas, an Electric Engineering student.

“[I like] the show’s ability to surprise. For example, you come to a point where you think this person is the main character but then he dies. You wonder what happens next. It’s not like any other show. They don’t focus on just one character and they introduced a new world,” said Ledres, a Civil Engineering major.

Like most of the attendees, Reyna Cadiz began watching “Game of Thrones” at the recommendation of friends. The 23-year-old content writer was not disappointed, pointing out the rich narrative and intricate plot as among the show’s winning qualities.

“It doesn’t care. It gives no fan service at all, and the plot is really rich. It’s good TV. ‘Game of Thrones’ is a perfect representation of how unpredictable human beings are,” said Cadiz, who attended the viewing party to see the reactions and somehow feel a sense of belongingness.

“I like how no one can exactly tell where the story will go. Because of that narrative approach, it makes the characters more human rather than archetypal.”

Of the show’s looming end, she feels “sad but for the most part nervous because what if this much build-up leads to nothing? What if it culminates to a disappointing ending? I feel like I’d be robbed.”

Morgan Tortilla, who loves going to viewing parties, said that “The Long Night” had been a fun experience as seen with how she swayed the crowd during the games to agree that Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) was fit to rule the Seven Kingdoms.

As someone who read the books, the 28-year-old real estate broker admitted being sceptical when the TV series came out. But she was charmed with how the directors and writers treated the material with a lot of thought and care.

Apart from the entertainment and the grandeur, “Game of Thrones” for her provides an opportunity for people to come together.

She said, “It’s big and it’s common to many people that it builds a bridge. There are people who haven’t read the books but have seen the shows, and so suddenly everybody can relate to it. It builds a connection people normally wouldn’t have had if this didn’t happen. There are some who are fans and you wouldn’t believe that they’d be fans. It gives a commonality that people can share and build on.”

When asked if “Game of Thrones” could ever disappoint, Tortilla quipped, “Of course!” before adding, “I think the only people who would ever be disappointed are the ones who are super attached to things going a particular way like ‘Oh no! This wouldn’t have happened in the books’ or ‘This is the way it should have happened.’ People who are so invested in a story or the fandom that they think they own them. As long as you don’t do that and you accept that it is a gift and you’re just there to enjoy it then there’s no way you can be disappointed.”

Organized by Hundred One Events and co-presented by Sky Cable, “The Long Night” featured merchandise booths and an Iron Throne for souvenir photos.

It was one of several gatherings that took place all over the city on Monday, as establishments like Bistro88 of the City Sports Club, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Movenpick Hotel Mactan, The Thray Seafood and Steaks, and F Café also held their own viewing parties.

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