Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Caracol Festival 2012: A Mardi Gras in Makati

Makati  held its annual Caracol Festival last February 26 with a parade of colourful costumes depicting nature and a group dance performance that replicated Mother Earth’s sea, forest, flora and fauna to the amusement of the crowd.

The event began at 4:00 pm with a parade around Ayala Triangle, from Ayala to Paseo de Roxas and finally Makati Avenue which ended in the intersection of Makati and Ayala Avenue, near the statue of Gabriela Silang where a stage was constructed for the event. 

Crowds gathered along the streets with their friends and children delightfully watching and taking personal photos of the parade in progress.  The variety of colourful costumes parading in the street created an atmosphere of merriment, a sharp contrast to the daily busy, all-business aura of this intersection. A mix of Makati officials, media, bloggers, and  photographers were positioned in front of the stage while waiting for the performers present their special numbers for the grand battle in street dancing.

Caracol, the official festival of Makati, promotes the importance of conserving and preserving our natural resources.  It underscores the commitment of the city government to the global campaign of safeguarding our environment.  Caracol, which is the Spanish term for snail, is a time when people are urged to enjoy life and the bounties of Mother Earth. During the festival, students from the different schools in Makati compete with each other in a street dance performance dressed as trees and fruits, marine life, species of endangered animals, flowers and fauna. This is the project of the city government of Makati, through its Museum and Cultural Affairs Office (MCAO

 “Visitors and tourists are welcome to join us in this yearly celebration.  Our Caracol Festival this year promises to be more fun and exciting, spiced up by the combination of ethnic, classic and modern dance movements gracefully performed by gaily dressed students and residents,” Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay said.

Festival goers are also encouraged to wear body paints, masks and other costumes depicting flowers, birds, fruits, animals and endangered species, and join in the parade and merrymaking according to Mayor Binay. He also said Caracol, Spanish term for snail, refers to the ‘shell’ that people carry around as a shield against life’s harsh realities, so the celebration calls for people to forget their troubles and delight in the moment.
Aside from performances by public school students and residents from the first and second districts, there was a special intermission by Ayala Land featuring the La Salle Pep Squad to promote its 2012 slogan, “Make it happen, make it Makati!”

Competing dance groups from the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels were dressed in ingeniously designed costumes that portray various forms of flora and fauna, including species facing extinction due to the environmental degradation.

The MCAO has assigned a specific theme and dance movement for each category, as follows:  Elementary level, Flowers and Insects to be performed in ballet or waltz movements; High School, Marine Life in retro or pop; and College/Open level, Endangered Species (except Marine Life) in precision movements.
Participants in the elementary level are from East Rembo Elementary School, Pembo Elementary School and Rizal Elementary School. The secondary level were represented by Benigno Aquino National High School, Fort Bonifacio High School and Makati High School.

At the tertiary/open level, two groups represented the different colleges of the University of Makati, namely, Center for Performing and Digital Arts (UMAK-CEPDA), and Center for Human Kinesthetics (UMAK-CHK). There was also a Dance No Doubt Group which represented a private organization in this level.

Consisting of 30 to 40 members each, every group has been given P60,000 as their participation allowance. 
The winning teams won trophies and cash awards. The First Prize was P60,000.00; the Second Prize was P50,000.00 and theThird Prize was P40,000.00. The overall champion received an additional P60,000.
A special cash prize of P20,000 each were given to the groups with the Most Original Costume and Best in Choreography. 

Meanwhile, one group each from Districts I and II in the non-competitive category exhibited their skills in ballroom dancing at the festival, to represent the 33 barangays of the city.

MCAO has been conducting “teaser” shows to drumbeat the grand event, which started at Glorietta Activity Center last February 4, Glorietta 4 and 3 Park last February 11 and 18, respectively. Another show was held on Saturday, February 25, at the Glorietta Activity Center.

Caracol 2012 is presented by the city government of Makati in cooperation with Ayala Land, Ayala Malls, Department of Tourism, and Manila Bulletin as the official media partner.

Celebrated every last Sunday of February, Caracol was conceptualized in 1986 and ushered in the Fiesta Islands Program of the Department of Tourism in 1989. Since then, the festival has been excitedly awaited by city residents and visitors alike, including foreign tourist.

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