Bacolod: Back on track

Merlinda A. Pedrosa

THIS year’s MassKara Festival, which kicked off October 1 and will end on October 23, is considered to be the longest celebration.

Now on its 37th year, Mayor Evelio Leonardia described the MassKara Festival, with the theme “Bacolod back on track,” as unique, historic, and unforgettable because of the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte led the opening rites on October 2 at the Public Plaza.

Leonardia said for 37 years, the Bacolodnons have embraced and nurtured MassKara, which has grown beyond our wildest dreams and expectations.

He said that the MassKara has become more than just a major tourism attraction.

“It is a reflection of the Bacolodnons’ capacity to survive, zest for life, and never ending spirit of optimism,” the mayor said.

MassKara also serves as a reunion and homecoming for the people of Bacolod amid its color, pageantry and fun.

The mayor cited that MassKara Festival was recognized by international television network CNN and National Geographic as one of the “12 must-do things in the world on October” and one of the “12 best things in the Philippines.”

"We will be proud of this. Year in and year out,” Leonardia said.

Leonardia's administration considers the MassKara Festival a mission and a commitment to the people of Bacolod, visitors and tourists.

Leonardia reappointed the Silver MassKara Festival Organization (SMFO) led by Eli Francis Tajanlangit to organize this year's festival celebration.

From 2004 to 2012, under Leonardia's administration, SMFO was the official organizer of the MassKara Festival.

For this year’s celebration, Leonardia assigned Councilor Emang, chair on committee on tourism, as festival action officer to maximize the synergy, synchronization and coordination between the City Government and SMFO.

The Silver MassKara Committee identified three official festival sites - the Bacolod Public Plaza, Bacolod City Government Center and the Tourism Strip at Lacson Street.

After 37 years, MassKara Festival now has really expanded, Tajanlangit said.

He said they will reclaim the MassKara Festival back to the people where it belongs.

The dance arena will also be back at the public plaza after it was held last year at the Paglaum Sports Complex.

He said that over the years, they have been trying to bring in people to the festival as active participants.

In 2007, SMFO opened the Electric MassKara to bring in the market segments A and B to the festival because these are the markets that did not participate in the festival.

They also opened the festival site at Bacolod Government Center, a site for the family.

He said that every time MassKara Festival started, the revelers, from an ordinary man on the streets to the richest man in the city, celebrate together.

The festival also brings good revenue to the business sectors in the city. Most of the revelers flocked to taste the chicken inasal, especially in the Manokan Country.

It is also the pride of Bacolod to promote its own delicacies such piaya, napoleones, fresh lumpia and pinasugbo.

This year, SMFO launched more events, expanding the barangay participation's in the festival like Tanda! Sing na, Dance Pa! and Nights of Mardi Gras at the public plaza.

Dubbed as "Golden Age of Change," the Majica MassKara was unveiled at the Bacolod Government Center fountain area, which was installed by Bacolod-based artists led by Charlie Co.

On October 15, Valerie Escamilla, 20, of John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation-Bacolod was named MassKara Queen 2016 during the coronation night at SMX Convention Center in SM City Bacolod.

This year's pageant, with the tagline "For the Students. By the Students. Kara Estudyante," was hosted by the Association of Colleges and Universities of Negros Occidental headed by Ditas Joson of the LCC-Bacolod Graduate School.

The now-famous Electric MassKara, a long stretch of street parties, is happening on October 20 to 23 at the Tourism Strip - that 16-block strip of Lacson Street spanning from 6th Street to 22nd Street.

Started in 2007 as the "night version" of the daytime streetdancing, the Electric MassKara is a showcase of MassKara dancers with lighted costumes. There will be a Performing Floats Competition on its second night while the Champions Showcase was slated on the third night.

The biggest highlight of the festival streets will be the Street Dance Competition on October 22 for the School Category and October 23 for Barangay Category, both will start at 3 p.m.

The newest attraction in the festival is the "Sadyaang MassKara with Mayor Bing - Fireworks Competition," which was held in three different locations – Public Plaza (October 20), Tourism Strip (October 21 and 22) and Government Center (October 23).