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Bacolod’s MassKara Festival

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MassKara’s name is a fusion of the English word for ‘many people’ and cara, the Spanish word for face. It’s a perfect description of this Philippino fiesta, in which Bacolod’s 450,000-plus residents take to the streets wearing masks with radiant smiles. Unlike the country’s other major celebrations, such as Ati-Atihan, MassKara does not pay homage to Santo Nino. MassKara is a festival held each year in Bacolod City, Capital of Negros Occidental Province here in the Philippines every third week of the month of October nearest October 19, the city’s Charter Inauguration Anniversary.

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The festival first begun in the 1980’s when the whole city was suffering from pain/heartbreak (brought by the sinking of the ship Don Juan, which took the life many Negrense’s including those belonging to the prominent families, an estimated of about 700 people died) and the financial crisis that hit the then Province (It’s main product “sugar” was at all time low during the period due to the introduction of sugar substitutes in the United States).

In the midst of these tragic events, the city’s artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.

Lately, the Masskara festival has added some “new features” such as the “Electric Masskara” which is so much alike of La Castellana’s Bailes de Luces. The music has become more “modern” and hip hop in style although it is basically remixes of Hiligaynon folk songs. Also, live drumbeaters would now accompany the performances in the plaza. MassKara Festival’s highlight is the Street Dance Competition where dancers perform to Latin-inspired music wearing colorful smiling masks and costumes which showcase the artistic talent of the Negrenses.

Through the years MassKara has evolved and has adopted to the changing times. More activities are being introduced every year, which makes evey MassKara Festival more colorful and livelier than the previous ones. Indeed, MassKara Festival has come a long way from it’s humble beginnings. Today, it is one of the most sought after festivals in the Philippines. The MassKara Dancers had already performed in different inernational locations, bringing with them the infectious smile and the distinct charm of the Negrenses.

Cite this Bacolod’s MassKara Festival

Bacolod’s MassKara Festival. (2017, Jan 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/bacolods-masskara-festival/

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