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Masskara Festival : Invasions of Smiles

While most people would probably give “colorful” as a default description of Masskara Festival, I label it UNSTOPPABLE. The fun and excitement seems popping from everywhere. It is bursting with colors and flowing with endless creative pieces. The activities are streaming on an infinite joy. Ahh, it is just the happiest place on earth!

The Philippines is home to some of the world’s most vibrant festivals. It is a nation that celebrates fiestas all year round. Every 3rd week of October, Bacolod City becomes the country’s epicenter of maddening parties as it celebrates the annual Masskara Festival. Its exhilarating vibe and dazzling spectacle draw people of all ages and races in one huge live stage.


Listed as one of the Philippines’ major cultural festivals, Masskara has been running for the past 34 years. It came about as the Negrenses’ way of momentarily forgetting all the troubles brought by the dwindling of the sugar industry. Resilient to its economic oddities, Bacolod rose to the challenge and masked its desolation with happy faces.


Rightful to its description as multitude of smiling faces, this festival imbibes exultant feelings. Their use of the smiling mask as a dramatic device pimps the intensity of fun its visitors are about to experience. While masks have been used in antiquity by all nations in the world, Bacolod’s interpretations of it are just outrageously beautiful. From a blank fiberglass canvass, its visual patterns are meticulously handcrafted with beads, sequins, tassels and feathers to come up with one masterpiece.

The street and arena dancing competition is by far one of the best parades I have witnessed in the Philippines and is certainly a serious competition. Heavily coiffed dancers clad in blinding colorful costumes gyrate and breathe, stomp and hump as one. But Masskara is not just a spectators’ show, the people that line up the street also moves with the performers to its pulsating and infectious dancing rhythm.
Just like any other festivals, Masskara is also a wham fest of beauty, talent, culinary and industry showcase. Exposition of everything Bacolod happens in 20 days. Its major thoroughfares are transformed into a huge street bash carnival filled with food, beer, souvenir items and an explosion of concerts and gimmicks.

2014 is themed as “One Rhythm. One Bacolod. A Million Smiles”. Beyond being known for its affluent families, sugar cane haciendas and chicken barbeque, this elite city has taken much economic conveniences comparable to other metropolis in the country. It invites the world to see and revel how much they have progressed and what else this City of Smiles has to offer.

I have experienced Masskara Festival for many years and I am always a delighted hostage to this days and nights of revelry. More than its parties and artsy spectacle, what is most memorable about this festival is the friendship that brings its people together.
It is fun and unforgettable. It is delightful and amazing. For whatever symbols these colorful masks bear or the aesthetic language it wishes to tell the world, Masskara Festival is a sure and unstoppable high.


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    Comments ( 4 )

  • Satoshi

    Blimey!! How do you know that I am In Japan at the moment? Yes, I am and coming back to the Philippines on 14th November. Looking forward to seeing you again.

    • Because I haven’t heard from you for quite sometime. Oh, enjoy home. Always take care. Text me when you are “home” in the Philippines. Score me a nice Japanese fan. 🙂

  • Satoshi

    Although a large majority of foreign masks are poker‐faced, all the masks are smiling here as you say. Considering the sorrowful past of Negros, their strong vitality has been conveyed to me.

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