Tag Archives: Maskkara

Maskkara Festival with Vibrant Costumes Coupled with Headdresses and Masks

Every fourth Sunday of October, Bacolod City celebrates the MassKara Festival. With vibrant costumes coupled with headdresses and masks, the streets of the city come into life. As others say, it is the happiest and most colorful festival among all festivals in the Philippines. This is why Bacolod City is considered as the City of Smiles. This month-long celebration is enjoyed together with food fests, activities, concerts, and even street parties. The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop and the price of sugar was at an all-time low due to the introduction of sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup in the United States. This was the first Masskara Festival and a time of tragedy; on April 22 of that year, the inter-island vessel MV Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank in Tablas Strait off Mindoro while en route from Manila to Bacolod. An estimated 750 lives were lost in the tragedy.

The festival has evolved into one of the major annual tourism attractions of the Philippines over the next four decades. Held in typical Oktoberfest and Mardi Gras fashion, the MassKara Festival served as a catalyst for far-reaching growth and development of the city’s tourism, hospitality, culinary, crafts and souvenirs and services sectors. In later years, the Electric Masskara was added as another attraction of the Festival. For several nights leading to the highlight weekend, tribes of MassKara dancers garbed in colorful neon and LED lights on illuminated floats make their way up and down the Lacson Strip, a one kilometer stretch of merrymaking dotted with band stages, souvenir stands, exotic car displays and roadside bars and food set-ups put out by restaurant and hotels along the strip. It is said that beer consumption during the festival is so high that at one time during the first few stagings of the festival, it bled dry the Mandaue Brewery of beer giant San Miguel Corporation on nearby Cebu island. The company eventually built its Bacolod brewery to serve the city and Negros Islands. The mask motif of the festival has changed from masks influenced by native Filipinos to those influenced by the Carnival of Venice and the Rio Carnival. Earlier masks were hand-painted and adorned with feathers, flowers and native beads, while contemporary masks feature plastic beads and sequins. The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina. Major activities include the MassKara Queen beauty pageant, carnivals, drum, bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concerts, agriculture-trade fairs, garden shows, and other special events organized every year. The street dance competition is divided into two categories; the school division, corporate and the barangay division, the latter is not considered as the highlight of the street dancing competition.

How to go there? If you plan on taking a flight from Manila to Bacolod City, it will just take you 50 minutes. You can also travel by the sea as RORO vessels are available. You can try the Fastcat RORO Iloilo-Bacolod. From the Bacolod Airport, you can opt to ride a taxi or through a shuttle which will cost you 150 PHP per head. A taxi is highly recommendable if you want to be dropped off in your hotel. But if plane tickets become really pricey, you can choose a flight from Manila to Iloilo City to save money. Iloilo is just relatively near to Bacolod City. Travel notes. If it is your first time in Bacolod City, it is vital to read on the culture or ways of living there in Bacolod. You can try out their food to have some gist on how tasty their delicacies are. Search on to the must-visit places for this will save you time planning on where to go next. You also have to prepare for the change in weather. Bring an umbrella or hot to combat the scorching heat of the sun or the rainy days. Applying sunblock is a must also. As a traveller, it is important to feel comfortable in every step of the way. Wear comfortable clothes to assure a great day traveling.

TAG: #MaskkaraFestival, #ophirph

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