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Mabalacat holds 3rd Caragan Festival on Friday

MABALACAT, Pampanga, Feb. 25 — Some 10,000 people are expected to join the street revelry during the 3rd Caragan Festival on Friday (Feb. 26) culminating the month-long fiesta celebration here.

Mabalacat Fiesta Executive Committee chairman Diosdado Pangilinan said that thousands of students in the town’s schools, along with foreign and local visitors, are expected to join the street dancing and parade that will begin in Barangay Mabiga and end at the plush Xevera Mabalacat Subdivision in Barangay Tabun.

Pangilinan said the Caragan Festival aims to give the municipality its identity similar to the Sinulog of Cebu and Maskara of Bacolod.

The culture of the town’s first inhabitants headed by chieftain Caragan will be interpreted during the festival, according to Pangilinan.

The Caragan Festival is being geared to promote the preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Aetas, who resided in the town before the advent of modernization.

Caragan is the late chieftain of the Aeta community in Mabalacat then a forested hinterlands covered with Balacat trees. The former Aeta settlers had been forced to move in the mountains with the onset of modernization.

Pangilinan said the Caragan Festival highlights the Aeta heritage and inculcates in the mind of the new generation the customs and traditions of the Aetas.

He is expecting that the Caragan Festival this year will surpass the magnitude of the previous one last year.

Mabalacat Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales said that the 3rd Caragan Festival will be joined by thousands of students from various schools.

The group will march from Barangay Mabiga up to Mabalacat Church Patio all the way to Xevera Mabalacat, Morales said.

On the way, participants clad in colorful costumes dance their way to the beat of the drum ala Brazil’s Mardi Gras.

“This is our country’s version of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, US. This is the mother of all festivals and we will showcase only the best presentations primarily to improve tourism not only in Mabalacat but in the entire country as well,” said Morales, who along with town officials recently visited Thailand to adopt best practices in tourism.

Morales said the Caragan Festival is now being recognized in other countries.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is now actively supporting the annual Caragan Festival in a bid to promote and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Aetas.

Morales said that the Caragan Festival will also honor the outstanding sons and daughters of Mabalacat town, now a first-class municipality on its way to cityhood. (PNA)

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