2 February 2014

Bacolod- The Masskara Festival

"The City of Smiles", Bacolod in Negros, has grown to become known for their annual MassKara festival, "the festival of smiles". Every year it brings people from all over the Philippines together to celebrate community and culture in wonderful dance, costumes and masks. One of the most memorable experiences ever!

The dancers posed willingly with anyone who wanted a photo

I knew about the event a long time in advance, but because I didn't know when or if I would be traveling in that direction, I only assumed it would be too difficult to get a hotel room when I did decide to go just days in advance. Fortunately my Filipina friend, Cherry, was able to negotiate with the "Drift village"- co-owner(the alcoholic's wife) that we stay with her family for one day, and then find a hotel the day after(most festival guests had left by then).

An eager audience is hiding from the scorching sun under umbrellas
The festival's last day starts with a parade and ends with a dance competition. Dance groups from all the different areas, barangays, participate with their own team and get judged by their dance, costumes and concept at a small stadium built for the occasion, completely packed with spectators.

As a white woman I felt like a celebrity. People wanted to have photos with me and I posed with them savoring these rare moments of admiration. This is just another example of how the Philippines remain intact and undisturbed by too many tourist compared to many South- East Asian countries. People will stare at you if you're tall, white and have blue eyes. We were somehow able to get onto the VIP stage(Cherry was convinced we only got in because I'm white). The others on the stage all wore a VIP badge. After a few minutes I was able to get a seat in between the badge people, and had a great view of the competition. There were 19 groups so we had to take a lunch break. A food that Bacolod is famous for by the way, is chicken barbecue, which I ate twice a day for a week.

We took photos with the dance groups that were waiting to perform, and the performers willingly posed with anyone who wanted to capture the moment.

After our break I yet again snuck onto the VIP podium and this time a coordinator offered me a seat on the first row. I sat right next to the judges, right behind the show host.

What an amazing view! I honestly can't believe how lucky I was, because around the small stadium there were about five rows on each side with seats completely packed to the brim.

If you're in the Philippines around the weekend closest to 19th October some time, you should plan the trip around the MassKara festival. It's kind of amazing!

1 comment:

  1. This looks fun and so many nice pictures you have. You write about the scorching sun while I sit here in grey and cold Oslo - you surely make me want to move. The kindness and easygoing feel is also attractive, especially finding a Philipino friend to help you along. I had to look up the city of Bokolod, and it is actually the same size as Oslo, known for its smiles, cleanest and greenest urban place in the Philipines. I have taken note of MassKara Festival and the Philipines!