Today, the City of Manila celebrates the 443rd anniversary of its founding, a day more popularly known as “Araw ng Maynila” or “Manila Day.”
This would also mark the first Araw ng Maynila celebration that its mayor, the former Philippine president Joseph Estrada, will spearhead. To his credit, his administration is bent on making this year’s Araw ng Maynila a bit different and memorable than previous celebrations. And what better way to do that by getting some inspiration from one of the city’s most colorful events of the old: none other than the Manila Carnival.
The Manila Carnival was a grandiose event held for two weeks every year between 1908 and 1939. Dates vary from year to year, though usually it was held around the first quarter. (between January and March) It was an event Manileños look forward to each year as the festive air is felt all over the city. And everyone took part in it, from the kids who enjoyed the rides set up at the fair grounds, to the various institutions and businesses in the city who put out their best effort in showing off their grand floats in the parades.
But perhaps the most popular aspect of the carnival would be the beauties who graced the event as “Carnival Queens,” the forerunner of the beauty pageants in the country.
Thus, on this 443rd Araw ng Maynila, as part of the efforts to revitalize the city and help revive its old glory, the Manila Carnival was given due homage in this year’s theme dubbed “Karnabal sa Maynila” or Carnival in Manila.
A portion of the Mehan Garden became carnival grounds for this occasion, complete with some rides and booths that can be found in typical Philippine fair. In addition, a stage was set up where various activities for this year’s Araw ng Maynila are being held, such as this one which the Urban Roamer caught that day.
While there are no floats to see this time around, there were showcases from each of the city’s interest groups about Manila’s rich culture and heritage, from the Filipino-Chinese community in Manila, to the city’s Muslim community, and the heritage groups of Santa Ana and Escolta. Even Intramuros Administration, which is under the national government and not the City of Manila, participated as well.
And to complete the homage to the Manila Carnival, this year’s Araw ng Maynila will see a revival of the a renowned beauty pageant in the city, the Miss Manila beauty pageant whose coronation night will be held on Araw ng Maynila itself. (though ironically, it will be held at the PICC which is in Pasay…probably because it was the available venue that day?)
It remains to be seen if we will see another “Karnabal sa Maynila” or some form of it in next year’s Araw ng Maynila, but here’s hoping that this year’s theme would serve as an inspiration to bring back the glory of Manila and become the capital city we all deserve to have.
Mabuhay Maynila! Maligayang Araw ng Maynila!