ROXAS City, Philippines—Roxas City’s main streets glittered with more than a million colored lights on floats and dancers on Saturday as highlight of this year’s Capiztahan festival.
The Parade of Lights, which passed through Arnaldo Boulevard, featured 15 floats depicting flowers, animals and sea creatures designed with colorful electric light bulbs. When these reached the beach area, a 30-minute fireworks display was held.
Thousands of spectators lined up the streets to watch, while many others danced, wearing bracelets, necklaces and headgear with colored lights.
Jointly organized by the provincial and city governments and the United Capizeños Foundation Inc. (One Capiz), the festival marked the 112th foundation day of Capiz and commemorated the 65th death anniversary of
its most prized son, President Manuel Roxas. Capiz was founded on April 15, 1901, while Roxas died on April 15, 1948.
The third since it was launched in 2011, Capiztahan was extended from three to four days and ended on April 15. More activities and events were added, including a fluvial parade of 15 motorboats with colored lights.
Seafood fairs offered the city’s famed oysters, fish, shells, prawns and shrimps at People’s Park along the beach.
The Parade of Lights has become the unique identity of the festival as Capiz hopes to boost its spot on the tourism map, aside from being known as the country’s “seafood capital.”
Architect-designer Terry Gavino, who designed the floats, said it took her nearly a year to conceptualize and try out the designs. Setting up the floats took more than a week, she added.
Provincial tourism officer Alphonsus Tesoro said more than 800 hotel rooms were booked during the festival.
Tourism arrivals have significantly increased in recent years, based on data from the provincial tourism office. From 49,848 in 2008, the number rose to 144,581 in 2009, 316,677 in 2010, 344,230 in 2011 and 365,425 in 2012.
Businessman Jose Nery Ong, chief executive officer of Sacred Heart of Jesus Prime Holdings Inc., said the continued success of the festival would boost efforts to strengthen the province’s image as a major ecotourism destination.
Aside from being the seafood capital, Capiz is being envisioned as a logistics hub for northern Panay, covering northern Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan.
Business leaders and government officials are working out the establishment of a roll-on, roll-off infrastructure that will connect Capiz to Masbate and the rest of the Bicol region, Ong said. Capiz is already part of the nautical highway connected to Batangas.
Melanie Arancillo, One Capiz executive officer, attributed the continued success of the festival to the cooperation of various sectors and groups. “Everybody understands that we need to continuously make Capiztahan better,” she said.