Davao City Torotot Festival

Davao City Torotot Festival
Davao City, Philippines is known for its colorful cultural festivals. Each of the city’s barrios (neighborhoods or villages) celebrates the feast day of its patron saint with a fiesta, and there also are a few major citywide celebrations, including the Kadayawan Festival in August and the Torotot Festival held on New Year’s Eve.

Although the inaugural Torotot Festival was held in 2013/2014, its history can be traced back to 2002, when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte passed an ordinance banning the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in Davao City. The ordinance proved extremely effective for injury prevention, but a lot of people agreed that it made New Year’s celebrations less fun.

Over a decade into the ban, the city administration decided to replace firecrackers with party horns, called torotot in the Philippines. The inaugural Torotot Festival was not just a New Year’s celebration, but also the city’s attempt to break the world record for the most people simultaneously blowing party horns, previously set by Japan.

To organize the first festival, the local government partnered with the telecommunications company Smart Communications. The company provided a free party horn for each of its subscribers who wanted to participate in the event; these party horns were machine readable for registration purposes. The organizers expected an estimated 10,000 people to attend the festival but, according to official records, a total of 7,568 people joined the event and blew party horns to welcome the new year, allowing Davao City to beat the previous word record of 6,900 people.

The inaugural Torotot Festival proved that it was possible for people to come together and happily celebrate the upcoming New Year without firecrackers, and so it became an annual tradition that has been growing ever since its inception. The city administration covers the costs for the venue and security measures, wheres sponsors are responsible for all the prizes.

The celebration usually starts with a parade of locals dressed in colorful costumes and blowing party horns. The festival program also includes a competition for the most creative torotot, music and dance performances, various games and contests (for example, the hip-hop dance battle and the torotot-inspired costume contest), and entertainment for adults and children alike. The program usually starts around 6 p.m. and lasts well into the night, ending at about 2 a.m.

In 2020, residents and guests of Davao City were discouraged from using party horns to welcome the New Year by the Department of Health due to the COVID-19 pandemic because the virus could be transmitted by saliva left on used torotots. The DOH instead suggested the use of alternatives ways of making noise, like drums, pots and pans, car horns, tambourines, or simply playing loud music. Large social gatherings to celebrate New Year were also discouraged. However, once the pandemic began to recede, the Torotot Festival returned in full swing.

Davao City Torotot Festival

Фото: Ace R. Morandante/davaotoday.com




Related Articles