Saturday, October 3, 2009

MassKara Festival of Bacolod: How It All Began

How did the MassKara Festival began?

It was
in 1980 when after the tragic sinking of M/V Don Juan bringing down with it the economy of the province that there was a need to stir away public attention from the negative and rather to focus on the Negrense's resilient nature and the Bacolodnon's ever-smiling face despite the sad scenario.

A group of Bacolod artists, among them the late famous cartoonist Ely Santiago, conceptualized a festival that would showcase this positive Bacolodnon trait. Thus, the Art Association of Bacolod artists came up with the term MassKara for the annual festival to be celebrated on the occasion of the city's charter day, October 19.

The festival name is a pun on the term masskara which means mask wearing a perpetual smile. But the proper way to write it is MassKara because it is actually a conjunction of two words, mass which means the masses, and kara which means face, thus a mass of smiling faces.

The original slogan was coined, "Kari sa Bacolod, dala ka maskara!" (Come to Bacolod, bring a mask!) which means to bring a mask sold by the locals as a souvenir to pump up the tourism economy and not to bring your own mask from wherever you came from.

Being one of the Philippine festivals with no religious background, the MassKara Festival is a celebration of life at its fullest joy. Initially inspired by the Mardi Gras of latin sights and sounds in street dancing and revelry, MassKara has now evolved into its own personality that is uniquely Bacolod.

Outgrowing its original location at the Bacolod Public Plaza which used to be known as the largest beer garden in the world (discouraged because the plaza is situated right in front of the Bacolod Cathedral), the organizers have added a new location at Lacson Street stretching from 6th Street fronting the Provincial Lagoon up to Benigno Aquino Drive. The festivities at this site is called Electric MassKara which started in 2007. The aim is more toward night street partying, thus MassKara dancers parade the lively streets in colorfully lighted costumes.

From being a week-long celebration, the MassKara Festival has been extended to open on the first day of October up to October 20, but the MassKara fever could extend up to the end of the month because Halloween is also a festival requiring masks and costumes.

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