(FIESTA TIME! Mayor Cris Garbo with local offi cials and beauty contestants pose before the unveiled Mabalacat City fiesta billboard.Contributed Photo)
MABALACAT CITY – The Caragan Festival will highlight this year’s month-long fiesta celebration here.
It will be the first celebration of the Feast of Our Lady Grace, observed every February 2, under the new administration of Mayor Crisostomo C. Garbo who assumed the post as the city’s top executive only on June 30, 2017 after former longtime mayor Marino “Boking” Morales was ordered by the Commission on Elections to vacate the post for violating the three-term limit rule set by the Constitution.
On Monday, a press conference was held at the city hall in Barangay Tabun here presided by Garbo as honorary chair of the festival which has his daughter, City Councilor Krizzanel “Win-win” Garbo, as chairperson.
Dubbed: “Malasakit King Milabas, Para King Maunlad A Bukas (A concern for the past, for a progressive future),” the grand festivities are budgeted at P5 million and will feature for the first time the renamed beauty pageant, Queen Mabalacat City 2018, at the Xevera Plaza on Feb. 8 and a line-up of activities beginning with the PBA Legends vs. MCG Team basketball exhibition at the Mawaque Resettlement Covered Court on February 1. Among the popular cagers that will see action are Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Cordinera, Johnny Abarientos, Vergel Meneses, Kenneth Duremdes, Ato Agustin and Totoy Marquez.
The preceding activity will be followed by the Parade of Beauties at the Xevera Lot-Only on Feb. 2; Ing Banal a Prusisyun, which is a showcase of cultural and heritage traditions, will begin after the Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Grace Parish followed by a grand fireworks display on Feb. 2; the Mabalacat City Job Fair at Xevera Lot-Only that will guarantee on the spot hiring and the Fiestang Caragan Got Talent at Xevera Plaza on Feb. 19; Linggo ng Katutubong Aeta 2018 at the Clark Freeport Picnic Grounds on Feb. 21-22 where the cultural minorities will showcase their customs and traditions; Fiestang Caragan 2018 regional bazaar and tiange at Xevera Plaza on Feb. 19-21; Fiestang Caragan photo contest and exhibit 2018 at Xevera Plaza on Feb. 19-23; Mabalacat City Farmers’ Day at Xevera Plaza on Feb. 20; Haring Caragan 2018 at Xevera Plaza on Feb. 21; Freedance Interpretation/ Caragan Showdown at Xevera Plaza which will be shown on GMA 7’s Unang Hirit on Feb. 22; and the Fiestang Caragan 2018 Street Dance and Awarding ceremonies on Feb. 23.
Mayor Garbo said he will increase the budget of the festival if it is found insufficient because Caragan has become a popular celebration known in the country today.
“What is important here is every single centavo that will be spent will be accounted for,” he assured.
Meanwhile, city information officer Michelle Ong has announced that “this is the start of the public-private partnership for intangible things under the MCG administration.” She said the city foots the bill for the 2018 festival because the festival is not yet a foundation but soon, the Caragan Foundation will be established that will take over the management of the festivities.
“Caragan Foundation is the vision of the city,” she said.