Caracol Festival as it is celebrated every third Sunday of January in Makati’s central business district is close to becoming a lot like a MGM grand extravaganza. But underneath the glitter and spectacle, the festival is in a way unique among Philippine fiestas since it honors Mother Nature and urges for preservation of her bountiful gifts.
Makati’s Official Festival
Unlike other traditional festivals that have begun centuries ago, the Caracol sa Makati was recently conceived. It started as a Fiesta Island program of the Department of Tourism in 1989 until on January 21, 1991, when the city government of Makati made it as its official city festival.
Caracol is a Spanish word for snail. The city of Makati has viewed the shell of a snail as symbol of protection from the harshness of life and adapted the idea for its annual festival.
The Caracol Festival is held as a tribal competition among hundreds of students from participating Makati public schools. Representing different divisions and levels, each group consists of 30 to 50 performers.
Since the theme is about protecting nature and preserving Mother Earth, participants dress-up as colorful flowers, exotic plants, insects, aquatic creatures and forest animals. Judging categories include originality of costumes, choreography and overall performance. The main events are the street dancing contest and best in costume competition.
We arrived early for the main event. On Sunday at 3:00 P.M. a number of participants have assembled in the Gabriela Silang Car Park at the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues preparing for the grand parade.
The assembly area was packed with revelers, media people, photographers and participants in loincloths and floral headdresses, bodies covered in body paint and gold dust and children in elaborate costumes.
The Grand Parade Along Ayala Avenue
About 4:00 P.M., the participants began moving to their formation along Makati Avenue and turning at corner towards Ayala Avenue. The first part of the parade consisted of various business organizations sponsoring the event.
After the parade of sponsors, one by one the tribes burst into the street. Each group went through a series of chants and ethnic to modern dance steps.
The grand parade ended at the corners of Paseo de Roxas corner Ayala Avenue where the participants jumped, stomped, wiggled, swung and draw out the rhythm from the beat of the drums while the audience cheered intensely and the judges watched to their delight.