Monday, October 19, 2009

"Kari sa Bacolod, Papinta ka Guya!"

"Come to Bacolod, Have your Face Painted!"

MassKara seems to be incomplete if you don't wear a mask or have your face painted to suit the festive mood. Here are some of the beautiful faces of Bacolod that added color to Bacolod's MassKara Festival.

My cam phone just couldn't get enough of all these deluge of beautiful people that, even when my gadget went lowbat, there were still a lot of faces to paint. It was fun doing so and fun being a part of it all.

I've spent many hours just uploading and editing the pictures but I've promised my clients to feature them on this blogspot.

(I'll get back to this blog and describe each one of the pics, not so much with the nameless faces but with my experiences with each of these living canvases that gave pulsating life to Bacolod as the City of Smiles.)

I'm back! So here goes: the banderita-canopied Lacson Street turns into a standing room street salon as strollers stand up in front of one of the many artists and get their faces painted ala prima in plein air.

Majority of the living walking canvases were Bacolod's female population and the best selling designs are what I call "Glitter Butterfly", floral designs I call "Diwata (Philippine fairy)", and the "Festival Queen" tribal inspired designs.

While most had their faces painted, some sported their chosen designs on their foreheads, forearms, upper arms, shoulder blades, and neck. I find the designs cascading from the face down the neck rather sexy.

Learning from last year's experience, I armed my water-based paints with extra glitter that became a major demand among the fun-loving walking party-goers turned iconic attractions.

My living canvases come in all shapes, sizes, ages, color and texture. The youngest was barely a year old, the oldest was a macho man in his fifties who wanted a big red flower on his cheek with leaves and sprays cascading down his chin.

While there were weird demands to do a particular design in mind, most would rather submit to the artist's sound judgment, which makes the job a little easier given the artistic license, all for the sake of freedom of expression.

It is true, however, that the artist must set aside his or her particular painting style in the meantime. So that abstract, cubist, fauvist, and other daring expressions don't sell so well.

I'm glad that I have learned the tricks of Chinese brush painting which I used extensively for a more fluid execution in a setting that requires only a few seconds to a minute only to finish, considering the long queue of eager faces.

I noticed that despite a chosen color, there is a great need for white that has to go with it for a more luminous look in an evening affair. The touch of glitter gives it a more festive look for a night on the town.

As against henna tattoo which stays on for up to a week, face paint only is as good as the night and you can easily wash it off being water-based. Which works perfectly well for office workers, students and grandparents who would only want a temporary fix just for party or picture-taking purposes.

I posted the picture of a golden girl featured in this photoblog, although another artist did her white and green floral face paint (I did her grandson's), because I like her fun attitude that she would just want herself photographed wearing face paint, for her profile pic.

Wow! I can just imagine most profile pics of Bacolod people would be them with personalized paintings on their faces.

The paintings may seem to have followed the same template, but really, no two paintings are alike. The strokes depend on the current situation, me holding a paint palette on one hand, a selection of brushes tied to the wrist of the same hand, while the working hand also receiving payment for the job and clicking away souvenir shots for my artist's portfolio.

My bag is always strapped to my shoulder, alert for snatchers and pickpockets who are just waiting for a distraction to harvest people's wallets and cellphones. Funny on the second night of the Electric MassKara, I even had my Asus notebook inside my Thai tote, so you can just imagine the respective artist's balancing act all the while.

Ignoring hunger and tiredness, we continue to accommodate more and more excited faces wanting to be painted. There was just a lot of people everywhere. Before immersing into this career as street face painter, I was just an ordinary office worker and mother sick of crowds.

But because my daughter is growing up and wanting to have her dose of the fun, I would like to go out with her also and what better than to be actually part of the show than just a spectator.

My daughter, also an artist herself, has got herself into the trade as well.

I remember when I was a little girl about her age when MassKara was still in its first few years. I would also help my mother in one of the rented kiosks at the Bacolod Public Plaza roundabout selling foodstuff and drinks to the revelers. I remember my mother asking me to make a jovial mask-wth-headdress design for their office t-shirt uniform for the parade. A few days later, the same design was mass-produced and sold by t-shirt vendors to tourists

My, how time flies and how the MassKara has evolved into a flavor all its own. While the mask has become the symbol of Bacolod's perpetual smile even in times of adversity, another symbol seems to rise -- the people of Bacolod need not wear a mask to hide a sad face, because, its people are smiling even behind the masks, even in times of crisis. They face even the most challenging times with smiles adorned with glitter flowers, butterflies and festive designs truly reflective of the Bacoleno spirit.

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