Thursday, August 28, 2008


Optimism was at a record-high when the plans for the second edition of the Manila Carnival unfolded in October 1908. A magazine observed, “ The Carnival of 1909, in presenting itself to the Orient, needs no more substantial guarantee of success than the truly wonderful record left behind by the Carnival of 1908. It would be extremely difficult to conceive of a project which started under more unfavorable conditions and ended in such a literal blaze of glory as did this Big 1908 Show”.

Indeed, critics, skeptics and pessimists were silenced when the 1908 Carnival proved to be such a rousing success. “Everybody gushed”, the write-up continued, “ every body had always known that the dear lovely men did know their business and how dared any one, even for a moment, imagine that we could not put on the best Carnival in the world, how glad we are that we worked so hard to produce this effect and last of all and most important, let’s have a Carnival every year!”. Thus, on this very high note, the Carnival of 1909 was planned.

Immediately after the close of the 1908 Carnival, a local member of the Carnival Association had toured the United States to learn from carnival societies and organizations there. The Carnival Association had thus amassed a wealth of resources and materials that were used in the mapping the details of the 1909 Carnival —from costume designs, buildings and floats. Valuable lessons in stage logistics were learned from this trip, including seating arrangement and crowd control.

The Carnival Committee had decided that the proven strong features of last year’s show will be presented in a highly improved form. The Hippodrome, for instance, will be greatly expanded to accomodate more horse races. The narrative exposition of the theme, on the other hand, will be told via a combination of water demonstrations, land parades and a host of spectacular effects in which pyrotechnics will dominate.

It has also been agreed by members of the Carnival Association that the great effort of the Carnival of 1909 will be along industrial lines. Special effort was made to induce provinces to display their products and features of interest on the largest scale possible. Foreign commercial houses were also contacted so that their purchasing agents can make side trips to Manila and see the country’s products for possible international business.

The Carnival Association contracted Paine’s Fireworks Company design elaborate pyrotechnics to dazzle spectactors. The features of the floats for the land parades were to be more artistic, rather than commercial. Bigger prizes will be given away to attract participants , to extend in all other fields of display, industrial and commercial exhibits, consisting of individuals, groups and organizations and feats of skills and strength.

For the action-packed athletic meets, crack athletes of the United States Army will be making their appearance. Negotiations were made with the different branches of the British Service as well as the French and Dutch Colonies in Asia to field in their sports delegates. Military groups from China were also being eyed to participate—“who will constitute formidable rivals to the best that the ‘white man’ can produce in the Orient. “

The Carnival Association had its highest hopes that in presenting its 1909 show to the public, it is in a position to guarantee high class performances while offering the possibilities of a profitable and pleasant participation and giving the ‘time of their lives’ to people who have the good fortune to attend.

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