The real stars of the Olympics opening ceremony

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jul 31 2012 10:16 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2012 12:50 AM

LONDON - The Olympic ceremony’s theme "Isles of Wonder" by Oscar award-winning director Danny Boyle took inspiration from Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest”. It showcased the UK’s rich heritage and the best of Britain’s diverse culture.

The surprises during the night never stopped coming: Rowan Atkinson, as Mr. Bean, played Chariots of Fire, Harry Potter‘s author J.K. Rowling read from "Peter Pan," footballer David Beckham drove a speed boat through a firework waterfall to take the flame to the Olympic Park, and Sir Paul McCartney performed an iconic British song.

Boyle also injected British humor when the Queen was shown sky-diving out of a helicopter with British secret agent 007 James Bond played by Daniel Craig.

But the real stars of the show were the 15,000 professional and volunteer- performers -- young and talented men and women who took on the challenge of performing in a 80,000-capacity stadium for billions of global TV audience around the world.

Filipinos, who were part of the opening show, said it was an experience of a lifetime.

“I still can’t believe it. Out of 15,000, I was chosen as a performer, who gets that chance?” said Patricia Mesina-Olabre, a performer in the industrial revolution period.

“It was immense, an experience you will never forget,” said Christine Nimfa Josef- Santos, who performed with Olabre in the industrial revolution segment.

“The story behind our roles is -- because of all the industrial changes taking place in the sleepy Isles of Wonder, we had to go out in troves to proclaim the changes happening,” Santos said of their routine acts.

“I came out of the hill when the tree was uprooted. I was one of the 200 miners. Just being in the stadium, with the loud music, you can feel the intensity inside,” said Benedict Carandang, a performer in the industrial revolution era.

Dancing NHS nurses

For Boyle’s tribute to the National Health Service (NHS), he conceived an exuberant sequence of dancing nurses, midwives and health staff with their patients. It received rapturous applause from the audience.

Filipino nurses who played their actual profession were thrilled for being chosen to act their day to day hospital duties.

“I want to show na di lang nursing ang pwede naming gawin, that we are versatile. Yung ginawa namin sa opening yun ang ginawa namin sa aming actual profession,” said Wilbert Ayap, a nurse in the UK for 10 years now.

“A lot of people congratulated us at natutuwa sila na kasali ang nurses and Filipinos are proud,” said Catherine Milabo, working for 17 years as a nurse.

Volunteer performers

They played a pivotal role to the Olympics opening ceremony. Some of them were paid, professional performers while a huge majority were volunteer performers who painstakingly sacrificed their weekends for four months to practice their routines.

“It was once in a lifetime experience at masasabi mo na, oh, London 2012, I was there,” said Carol Panday, a volunteer performer.

Panday, one of the 40 performers wearing the flashy, mirror dress in the 60s era of the opening ceremony, said there is no price tag to the experience of being part of the spectacular opening number. Definitely a night she will not forget and will always cherish.