The MassKara Festival is the annual fiesta celebrated by the city of Bacolod, in the province of Negros Occidental, southern Philippines. It has been more than 20 years already and the festival is just getting bigger, better, and more colorful each year.
But do you know how this festival was started?
Negros Occidental has long been known as the haven of wealthy sugar barons and their haciendas or sugar. Life was easy and good in the province, as the people had work and whatever they needed, they could sure ask for help from their bosses. But then, the sugar industry experienced as major crunch in the 80s. A lot of people lost their jobs. There was hunger in a lot of places. Then to make matters worse, a very big ship plying Bacolod City to the metropolitan capital sunk and killed hundreds of Negrenses along with it. Truly, it was a very bad decade for both the economy and the hearts of the people. Morale was low.
Then the government thought of starting the MassKara Festival. "Mass" literally stands for people while "Kara" is for face. During the festival, people wears masks with smiling face to keep the spirit alive. For the duration of the MassKara Festival, people keep a smiling face, thanks to the masks that they wear. This may seem like a negative thing to do, like putting masks and all and masking the pain or sorrow, but this festival indeed helped the province and the city as a whole. While the people enjoyed the merrymaking, such as the 3-day streetdancing competition of different categories, beauty pageants, talent shows, trade fairs, exhibits, etc., new businesses were started and small enterprises were given the opportunity to showcase their wares to visiting tourists. The small ventures were discovered by export buyers and a window to the world was opened.
More and more activities are being added every year and people from all over come to Bacolod in order to celebrate the MassKara Festival.
For more information on this festival, you can visit the site of the Bacolod City government.