The most anticipated event of the year that brings a lot of colors and fun on the streets of Bacolod.
Image: Ceslou via Wikimedia Commons
October is the most awaited month for Bacolodnons, Filipino travelers, and even international tourists because it is when one of the country’s biggest festivals is held. Also known as the festival of smiling masks, Masskara Festival
is dubbed as one of the most exciting events in the Philippines.
But what makes this festival special to locals and visitors, leaving them with good memories? How did the city come up with such a successful event? What are the major events that you shouldn't miss? If you’re attending Masskara Festival 2019
, it’s important to know the answers to these questions. So prepare for Masskara Festival 2019
with this starter pack of facts and various activities you should look forward to!
1. The festival of smiling masks first began in a year of tragedies.
Bacolodnons are known to be smiling people.
Image: Masskara Festival Facebook Page
The word “Masskara” is a combination of the word “mass” which refers to a multitude of people and “cara” which means face in Spanish. It was coined by Ely Santiago, the late president of the Arts Association of Bacolod. In the year when the Masskara Festival was first held, Bacolod faced two crises.
One had to do with Bacolod’s major crop: sugar. When the US introduced high fructose corn syrup as a sugar substitute, the price of sugar fell, threatening Bacolod’s economic survival. Another event was the collision of the inter-island vessel MV Don Juan with the oil tanker MT Tacloban City on April 22, 1980. More than 700 passengers were killed, including family members of the late Mayor Jose Montalvo. These unfortunate events cast a gloom over the province.
But despite the challenges, Bacolod held the first festival on October 19, 1980. The city brought out colorful and vibrant smiling masks, showing that even at a moment of gloom, the people can find faith, hope, and resilience by celebrating together. The festival became an annual celebration, giving the city that saw tragedy a boost in tourism and an alternate source of income. Indeed, there is a rainbow after the storm!
2. The colorful street dance competition is one of the festival’s highlights.
More than 20 barangays join the street dance competition.
Image: Masskara Festival Facebook Page
The highlights of the annual celebration are held every last weekend of October at three major festival sites: the Bacolod Public Plaza, Lacson Tourism Street, and the Bacolod Government Center. One major event that cannot be missed is the Street Dance Competition. Locals from every barangay show off their exquisite costume and dance routines in a bright and exciting display.
The splashy costumes and multicolored masks fill the streets and drumbeats and upbeat tunes are played all over the city. The dancers wear masks made from fiberglass material and covered with colorful and extravagant designs. The masks could be as heavy as two kilograms, but the applause and awe the performers receive give them the endurance to dance the exhaustion away.
3. The Masskara Queen pageant is another thing people look forward to.
The Masskara Queen is one of the highlights during the festival.
Image: MassKara Festival Queen 2018 Facebook Page
Masskara Queen is a local beauty pageant that began in 1981, giving the young beautiful ladies of Bacolod a chance to express themselves on the grand stage. The contestants wear bikini costumes and stunning gowns designed by local artists, compete for who’s the most photogenic, and answer political and environmental questions from the judges—all done with sweet smiles and grace. The winner of the pageant receives a ton of exposure and offers from modeling channels, media, and even charities.
4. Epic music concerts and street parties are held all over the city.
Various rave parties celebrating Masskara are held throughout the month of October.
Image: Headrush BCD Facebook Page
Festivals won’t be complete without parties! Almost every weekend, music concerts and street parties
are held along and near the famous Lacson Street. Party hopping is possible since most of the events happen together in one night.
For one, Logiclub has been hosting Masskara raves at Homegrown with the freshest local artists from Metro Manila like Curtismith and CRWN. Street parties sponsored by known companies like SMART feature local bands, singers, and DJ’s. Definitely, there is not a single night when the crowd never goes wild during these parties.
5. Bacolod is more than just the Masskara Festival!
The City of Smiles is a haven for foodies and adrenaline junkies.
Image: Nena's Rose Chicken Inasal Facebook Page
After the festivities of Masskara, there are still plenty of things to do in Bacolod. One of the main attractions in the city is the restaurants and dessert places. Most tourists and locals try the juicy flavor of the iconic chicken inasal (grilled chicken) of Aida’s and the affordable sweet treats in Calea.
Some visitors also take side trips to Lakawon Island, a banana-shaped paradise located in Cadiz City just an hour away from Bacolod. Meanwhile, some relax and feel the chilly weather in Mambukal Mountain Resort in Murcia. Whatever the gimmick, after all the parties and events you have gone to, a small getaway to a nearby paradise is in order.
Now that you know what’s happening during the most talked about festival in Negros, pack your bags and book your flight! Roam around the streets of Bacolod and see the glowing smiles of the people during the Masskara Festival.
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