MassKara Festival 2014

My fascination with masks started back in 2008 during a trip to Puerto Princesa's Ka Lui restaurant. To those who haven't tried Ka Lui, here's a photo of the restaurant by

Ka Lui is obviously one of those restaurants that support local art. His collection is amazing! ;)

So when I was given a chance to visit Bacolod last 2013 with 2GO, I promised to come back. For this trip though, I flew in from Iloilo because roundtrip tickets were wayyyyy cheaper compared to flying direct to Bacolod. To estimate the total cost, I probably spent around Php4,550 inclusive of land and sea travel to Bacolod. And of course you've seen my review of the Sugarland Hotel. They were all booked back in July but of course you can get cheaper rates if you book earlier than that.

MassKara Festival is held every 3rd weekend of October.

Here's a brief history why it is called MassKara Festival: The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis where 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, etc. It was also a time of tragedy when 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.

An estimated 700 lives were lost in the tragedy. 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.

Apart from the non-stop parties (this is the holi powder party photo grabbed from MassKara Bacolod FB page), Negrenses also look forward to the street dance competition which is the highlight of the festival.

The street dance competition is divided into two categories; the school division and barangays. Competition is held at the Paglaum Sports Complex where entrance is free for general audience.
Photo grabbed from MassKara Bacolod FB page.

After their performance inside the complex, the dancers take a break rest (walang biro, mahirap sumayaw na may bitbit na mabibigat na maskara) before hitting the streets for the parade.
Photo grabbed from MassKara Bacolod FB page.

In fairness, you can't help but smile talaga whenever you see the MassKara dancers. Very full of energy sila! ;) It is definitely one of the best festivals I've ever attended, overflowing ng good food and good vibes. I love Bacolod and for sure babalik-balikan ko ang lugar na yan. ;)