Viva San Pablo, Coco Festival!
In my three consecutive years of documenting this annual event in San Pablo City, Laguna, I have seen the ever-changing colors of the dancing costumes, the elaborate floats parading on the streets of the city, and the intensity of the street dancers themselves. And this year’s installment of Mardi Gras was no different.
Bright colors invaded the streets together with the almost frenzied dance movements of the participants. From elementary school kids up to college students, all swayed and gyrated to the music of the Mardi Gras. The same coconut tree parts were still visible in the costume designs but additional implements were added such as high poles, the image of Saint Paul the First Hermit, fans, jeepneys, among others.
Even the floats seemed to be in a level-up mode. There are more school participants and more pakulo to make the floats attractive to the beholders. There were the usual beautiful young ladies and handsome gentleman up front; freebies and fliers; and the very clever use of prominent cartoon and movie characters that proved to be very popular to children. Beyond these embellishments the parts of the coconut tree was still present in all of them.
Just a few comments and suggestions: First, it was good that the ‘waiting area’ for the floats were transferred from Mabini Street to Rizal Avenue. This move practically decongested the area the corner of Mabini Street and Zulueta Street where they were used to be situated. Also, it enabled smooth transition of the dance groups. The use of ropes to isolate the dancers from the general crowd also helped in giving room for the presenters to fully make their moves.
But due to the number of spectators, not all can actually come near and watch all the dancers. Big screens are suggested to be erected along the Mabini Street area, along Rizal Avenue near the Lions Club welcome arch, and near the main stage of the Coconut Festival on the city plaza. That way, not everyone have to squeeze through the throng just to see the Mardi Gras dancers in person.
As a whole the Mardi Gras proves to be a strong magnet for tourists and local citizens in taking part in a celebration of the coconut tree and the city’s patron saint.