Chaos, overcrowding ensue at CONQuest Festival 2023; organizers apologize

Images: @karemaki (Twitter) / Julius Babao
Images: @karemaki (Twitter) / Julius Babao

Organizers took to social media to apologize after CONQuest Festival 2023, a three-day festival on gaming, music, and pop culture, was filled with chaos due to disorderly queues and overwhelming crowds at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Hailed as the ultimate pop culture convention, CONQuest Festival 2023 attracted scores of fans as it featured over 70 local and international guests, including musicians, gamers, and artists, promising to immerse attendees in a world of music, gaming, tech, and everything in between. Yet the event quickly turned sour as disgruntled fans took to social media to vent their frustrations, citing issues of overcrowding, excruciatingly long queues, and alleged mismanagement.

Some ticket holders said they ended up being cut off from the entrance, or chose to leave after hours of waiting in the sun while in cosplay.

CONQuest organizers even announced before 7pm that doors to the venue were now closed, and that refunds for passes would be issued.

Even news anchor Julius Babao chimed in, tweeting a photo of the long line of frustrated attendees waiting outside the SMX Convention Center.

“Who are these organizers of #CONQuest at SMX? Apparently they collected huge amounts of entrance fees but it seems like they oversold their tickets! Look at the kids lined up for miles in heavy costumes under the heat! Why did SM Management allow this?” he tweeted.

Justin Banusing, the director of CONQuest Festival 2023, took to social media to air an apology after being hounded with complaints.

“I’m sorry. When I started CQ [CONQuest], I dreamed of creating a space where people could explore their passions without judgment and bridge the online and offline worlds. Instead, I failed you all,” he wrote.

“Overpromised, undelivered. I know you’ve been looking forward to this event [all year] and it sucked that not everyone who wanted to experience CQ was able to do so. Worse is that I hyped it up a LOT — and hype means nothing when not all [attendees] can enjoy it.”

Banusing admitted he began the year “with an inflated ego coming off the high of last year.”

“I thought I could solve the problems I experienced as a con-goer growing up and that my event was better than others. That I was better than other organizers. And I clearly wasn’t. Jokes on me, linecon became my con. I was in over my head to think I could deliver an experience [of] this magnitude in the second year that CONQuest is in Manila. There is no excuse and I took all your good faith in me and wasted it,” he added.

“I cannot refund the time and effort that you guys committed for this event, but ticket REFUNDS will happen. This is the very least I can do to start earning back whatever trust you have in me,” he said.

CONQuest Festival also posted an apology and owed it to “underestimating fan demand.”


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