The colors of #MasskaraFestival2014
“I’ll take you back to the old days
and I’ll sing the songs
once you’ll all remember
so come and sing along (come on everybody)”
This was the Latin beat of medley songs of Trini Lopez that has always embedded in my memory of the Masskara Festival I knew. I was a small child and my mother’s office was just across the Bacolod City Plaza. I was able to watch the masked dancers with their colorful costumes and plastic fruits on their head.
Years after, when more tourists flocked to Bacolod City, Philippines to witness the revelry and the crowd made it unappealing to watch the street dancing at the Plaza, we opted to witness everything through TV coverages. But as I moved to Manila, which has become my home for so many years, Masskara has faded as a mere figment of my memory.
Fast forward to 2014 when I have settled back home and now have the chance to again take part in this popular revelry. I braved the drizzle to stand alongside locals and visitors at the Plaza to anticipate the much-awaited street dance competition. Much to my surprise, the familiar Latin beat once again filled the air and brought me back to my childhood Masskara days.
I spotted some people in the crowd, especially children, donning their masks to mark their participation in this festival. More foreigners also dotted the streets of Bacolod as they want to get a first-hand experience of this renowned event. Known Filipino celebrities fly to this Visayan city that is known as the City of Smiles as various parties and shows are organized during this time.
By the way, if you are looking for a unique way to remember your trip to the Masskara Festival, you can get a custom bobblehead to look like you dressed in the traditional festival clothing!
I wrote about the reason why Masskara was conceptualized in my post Behind Masskara’s Smile.
Suddenly, people squeezed together and heads bobbed as giant puppets paraded along Araneta St. Familiar characters since my childhood days came into view. From the recent hit movie Frozen, Olaf and Elsa led the parade. Then I saw one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Johnny Bravo, Spongebob Square Pants, Homer Simpson, R2D2, Kung Fu Panda, Mickey Mouse, and many more cartoon characters and Hollywood favorites. Then, lo and behold, a puppet that was undoubtedly representing the child sensation Ryzza Mae Dizon made its way through the stream of the crowd.
Then attractive headdresses followed suit. The audience got excited as everyone tried to get a shot of the beautiful masks. The street dancers came from the Pagla-um (literally means “hope”) Sports Complex where they already did there dance performances before making their way to Araneta St. The barangays showed their best moves and creativity as they vied for the best street dance group and other special prizes. The dancers converged at the Plaza where they also performed.
But apart from the street dance competition, which was one of the highlights of this almost month-long celebration, a portion of Lacson Street was also closed for some street partying. It is now known as the Lacson Tourism Strip. Others also joined the Charter Eve countdown at the People’s Place, which is more known as the New Government Center.
So, if you plan to take part in next year’s Masskara Festival, make sure you book your flights ahead of time and book your hotel rooms because when October arrives, all roads lead to Bacolod.
More photos on my Facebook page #MasskaraFestival2014.