The Masskara Festival is the celebration that defines Bacolod City as the City of Smiles. This month-long celebration of the happiest and most colorful festival in the country is filled with parties, concerts, food, and merry-making. Every year in October, when the fourth Sunday falls, the streets are filled with dancers that are enamored with bedazzling costumes, colorful masks, and bizarre headdresses.
History of Masskara Festival
Despite the cheerful atmosphere that is fostered by this event, the Masskara Festival started during a time of tragedy for the people of Bacolod. It began in 1980 when the city's economy was facing its challenges due to the dropping prices of sugar, which was their primary agricultural crop and source of livelihood. During this time, other tragedies struck the city, such as the colliding of the tanker Tacloban City and an inter-island vessel MV Don Juan. Those vessels that sank carried families from Bacolod, resulting in numerous deaths and missing victims.
In this dark period, the mayor at that time, Jose Montalvo, decided to appropriate funds for a festival to help the people recover from all the depressing events. And so, the first Masskara Festival was held on October 19 in the year 1980, which was the same day as the city's charter day. The event served as a symbol of the strength of the spirit that the people of Bacolod had and still have up to this day.
2019 Schedule of Activities and Highlights
There are a lot of thrilling activities in store for you this 40th celebration of the Masskara Festival. The main event will be held on October 26-27, 2019. Expect street dancing competitions such as the Electric Masskara where dancers compete not only with their moves, but also their colorful lighted masks. Besides that, there will be the Masskara Queen beauty pageant and mask exhibits, which are also looked forward to by many tourists and locals.
- October 26 - School Category
- October 27 - Barangay Category
Other events would be musical concerts, drum and bugle corps competitions, and other sports-related games. There will also be organized fairs relating to agricultural trade, food, and garden shows. More than that, concerts will also be held to fuel your party spirits.
If you are a first-timer, here are some travel tips you may want to consider:
- Wear comfortable clothes that are appropriate for the weather
- Arrive at the venue an hour before the street dancing event starts, which is around 2 pm
- Find the best view to watch the events and competitions especially if you want to take good photos
- Do a little research on the food, culture, and top places you need to visit
- Don't be afraid to explore! Be a part of the parties and concerts. Try out new restaurants and the city's delicacies.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are several ways to get to Bacolod. You can take a plane from Metro Manila, Cebu, Pampanga, Cagayan De Oro City, or Davao. If you are flying from Manila, you will most likely take 50 minutes before reaching Bacolod. Once you get to Bacolod - Silay Airport, you can take a taxi or a shuttle to your hotel. There is also the option of sea travel through RORO vessels.
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