Mabalacat honors its indigenous ancestors

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By Marjorie Gorospe

MABALACAT, PAMPANGA — Many cultures set aside time to look back to where they came from, and for the locals of Mabalacat, one way to honor their roots is through the Caragan street dance Festival.

The festival honors Caragan, the first great chieftain of the Aetas in Mabalacat. In the street dance competition, the performers coat their faces and body with charcoal and then they don originally made indigenous costumes. The festival recently concluded its third annual celebration held every February which also part of the local fiesta to thank their patron saint Nuestra Señora de Gracia. This year, the concept of the costumes is environment-friendly, employing recycled materials.

Around 35 schools and organizations participated in the cultural dance interpretations, complete with costumes and adornments made of indigenous materials. It started in 2008 and was organized by the Mabalacat Fiesta Executive Committee which aimed to give the municipality its identity similar to the Sinulog of Cebu and the Maskara of Bacolod.

The Caragan street dance Festival is just another attraction in Pampanga aside from the world-renowned Hot Air Balloon Festival. Not only does it commemorate the roots of the Mabalacat locals — it also shows creativity, talent and passion from both the street dancers and their concept directors who came up with such designs and originality. The festival is for public viewing, so there’s no need to worry about tickets or fees to witness the event.

In previous years, winners received about P200,000 worth of cash prizes for the best dance interpretation, best costume, best ethnic group and best head dress.

Aside from featuring the coronation night of the Mutya ng Mabalacat, the locals also complete the festivity through displaying their homegrown products such as the “tocino” from native water buffalos called “pindang damulag,” bonsai plants, handicrafts from Pinatubo ashes and materials, “suman,” “tamalis,” “inihaw na kamote” and other Aeta products.

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