MABALACAT CITY – This city’s Fiestang Caragan is one of the first festivals in the Philippines to be held in a face-to-face set-up as the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down.
This was disclosed by Dionisio “June” Magbalot, Overall Director of Fiestang Caragan 2022, following the culmination of the weeklong celebration last March 6, 2022.
“While we understand that some of our peers in the creative and events industry have been limited to virtual celebrations online, the recent downgrading of alert levels and zero new cases in our place served as bases in the decision to celebrate it face-to-face,” Magbalot, considered one of the culture and arts pillars in Mabalacat City, said.
Magbalot has been in charge of the annual merriment for since the 1990s. The event is in honor of the Aeta heritage of this city that was founded by Haring Caragan, an Aeta Chieftain in 1712.
He said the event was aimed at moving past the challenges thrown by the pandemic.
“This is our contribution in helping permeate optimism and as we move forward from the pandemic as may be gleaned in our fiesta theme this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fiestang Caragan 2022 Chairperson and City Councilor Win-Win Garbo said the committee has enforced measures that uplifts adherence to government-mandated public health standards, including vaccination.
“It has always been a challenge to hold a grand festivity in a regular set-up. It’s a good thing that our local government, led by Mayor Crisostomo Garbo, placed high importance on vaccination. Now, we are reaping the benefits of having a substantial number of vaccinated persons who were allowed to watch the festivities,” the young Garbo said.
As part of the measures in protecting the spectators, the main fiesta events were held outdoors. It has also deployed event marshals to remind the public to wear their facemasks, observe safe distancing, and use sanitizing solutions at all times. Checking of body temperatures and vaccination cards is also mandatory prior to entering the main venue. Handwashing areas were also mounted at the main event area.
For his part, Mayor Garbo said that the celebration of Fiestang Caragan this year is a manifestation of Mabalaqueños’ triumph and resilience over any adversity.
“Just like in the Pinatubo days, we are glad that our city has shown once again that Mabalaqueños are resilient and triumphant, and that we all can move forward despite the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. It showed one common aim in not just becoming overcomers but also a in being firm and resolute to bounce from challenges,” Mayor Garbo said.
The city mayor moved the fiesta attendees with pride and love for the city saying, “If God is with us, who is against us? Sino po ba ang makakapagisip na magkakaroon tayo ng isang matagumpay na Fiestang Caragan ngayong kalagitnaan ng pandemiya? Akalain ba nating matatapos ang isang linggong selebrasyon ng kapiyestahan ng matagumpay at organisado?”
Based on the calendar of fiesta events, a total of 29 activities were successfully staged in just a span of eight days. The fiesta kicked off on February 27 with Photo Competitions, a Motor Show, a community bazaar, and exhibits.
Residents and tourists alike also troop to the city’s highlight events such as Padyak Laban sa COVID-19 (Bike Fest), Miss Gay and Mr. Pogay Kontra COVID-19 2022, Fiestang Caragan Parafe, Zumba Pangmalakasan para COVID-19 Malabanan, Barangay Got Talent, Fiestang Caragan Free Interpretative Dance Competition, and the crowning of 2022 Queen Mabalacat City.