The festival that is now being celebrated is the third annual Philippine Carnival. The Carnival has, in some respects, become to be looked upon as “Manila’s show”. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the Carnival is held in Manila, and all of the men who form the working force of the carnival organization live in the capital city of the Philippines, it has always been realized that were it not for the great support furnished the carnival association by the provinces, it would be out of the question to even attempt a festival of the breadth and scope of the one which is now being celebrated.
Then, too, while it has been the principal aim of the Philippine Carnival Association to furnish an annual carnival that would be a credit to the whole Philippine Archipelago, they have not forgotten that an institution of this nature is bound in time to become so well known that it will be looked upon as one of the biggest features of life in the Far East. Already its fame has gone to the furthermost corners of the earth. The first carnival made Manila well known as a provider of first class entertainment, and the second carnival spread the fame of the Philippines throughout Europe, the United States, the Orient and Australasia. Hundreds of inquiries have been received during the last year for information regarding the fiesta now in progress.
Advertising matter of a very high class has been widely distributed. The Red Devil trade-mark of the Philippine Carnival is now familiar from Manila to Vladivostock, Yokohama to Calcutta, and from San Francisco to London, and Honolulu to the Antipodes. This has had the effect it was intended it should have. Last year, the Carnival Association entertained a fair number of foreign visitors who were attracted by the fame of the initial carnival, and this year, we have more visitors from the outside world than it was even hoped would come.
In the United States and Europe, the carnival is a product of gradual evolution which comes into existence only after the social, political, industrial and commercial institutions of a country have become highly developed. At such a point the development of the country, and as a means whereby, during a certain season, the maximum of pleasure may be enjoyed by the entire population, the carnival serves a most important purpose.
In the Philippines, however, with its undeveloped institutions and confronted as it is by the great problems of creating the very fundamentals of national, social and commercial existence, the need for such an institution, solely as a means of amusement and pleasure will not exist for many years.
In spite of this, and entirely apart from its important purposes of practical utility, Manila’s carnival in point of interest, amusement and novelty, may very properly be classed with the famous shows of the world. Indeed, it is doubtful if ever in the history of the modern world there had been crowded within the limits of a period of less than a fortnight a series of entertainments so striking in their character and so nearly representative of the highest grade of amusement from all parts of the globe. International expositions have been held in other sections of the world and into these much of the local color of different countries has been infused; but it has remained for the dreamy, mysterious Orient, with its world of wonders not to be found outside, to discover the real secret of a carnival of the nations.
The fact is not remarkable when considered in the light of conditions existing in the Philippines. When, in 1907, the first Philippine carnival was projected, and its plan and purposes placed before the Secretary of War, now the President of the United States, no difficulty was experienced in impressing upon him the fact that among the institutions operating in this country toward carrying out the proper intentions of the United States Government, none might reasonably be expected to be productive of more valuable results than this. From that date until the present time this interest in the success of the carnival has been active and substantial.
The directors of the Carnival Association in carrying out their plans have had access to every facility possessed by the military and insular governments. Special arrangements with the War Department have placed at their disposal for use in presenting the different gorgeous spectacles forming the central feature of the display a class of talent the securing of which in any other part of the world would be a practical impossibility. In both of the carnivals which have been held, the soldier and the sailor have been conspicuously represented, particularly in connection with the great hippodrome which formed the most striking feature f these carnivals, and whose third appearance is now with us.
Of even greater value has been the assistance furnished by the Civil Government. This has consisted in part of substantial cash appropriations for the support of the institution and in part of the detail of the highest grade of men in civil service for carnival purposes.
These and other equally important features, the active interest and assistance of the business and foreign communities, the fact that Manila is ideally situated with reference to the securing of features of interest from other Oriental countries, and that the Philippines are extremely rich in novelties splendidly suited to the purpose of the carnival, make it possible for this comparatively small organization of men situated in an obscure and imperfectly developed portion of the world, many thousand miles removed from the centers of art and social activity, to present once in each year a two weeks’ period of such striking interest and novelty as to easily rival the greatest attractions of modern times.