OCTOBER in Bacolod is MassKara Month. We all spot “smiling faces” to confirm our cultural hospitality. We welcome people from all walks of life to join us in a month of celebration that binds friendship, tourism, commerce, culture… and I hope we don’t forget God.
Our policemen are the important elements in this carousal because it is impossible for us to smile and jollificate if there is the absence of peace and order.
I was with Mayor Bing Leonardia, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, Congressman Greg Gasataya, City Administrator John Orola and Tourism Officer Butch Gerasmo at the Negros Trade Fair in Glorietta when the Metro Manila shoppers, National Government officials, and friends were invited to come to Bacolod in October to join the MassKara revelry.
The policemen will be there “to serve and to protect.” We look forward to a happy but peaceful celebration of the “smiles.” Everybody will come to Bacolod with full or half-full pockets… with masks or without masks.
Some organizations, government agencies and business corporations have scheduled their meetings and conventions here in Bacolod. Husbands will bring their wives (or substitutes for wives). Officials will be accompanied by their family members. Clans will have their reunion. Classmates will have their homecoming.
Dignitaries will have their “visita oficial” with Mayor Bing. Politicians and would-be politicians will make a “rekorida” of themselves so that the public may know. Movie and television personalities will be here to promote their shows. President Digong (with or without Honeylet) is expected to come. Most of Negros politicians have become members of PDP-Laban. They will meet the president without masks for fun. I hope the president will not speak bad words. Kindergarten pupils will be around, too.
Alongside with the VIPs, more Badjaos (Badyaws) will flock in Bacolod. They have prepared their own itinerary for the celebration. I have not seen their masks yet. They cannot be counted as “tourists” because they will not check-in in our hotels. They can be classified as “excursionists.” They are here to witness electric MassKara and taste our famous “chicken inasal.” Let us be gentle with them because they are Filipinos also and children of God and Allah.
Our policemen should zero in at the public plaza. They should have keen eyes for the “embracers, snatchers, pickpockets, swindlers (particularly the “budol-budol” gang), hold-up groups, fake money changers, drug pushers, “dama de noche” “lag-lag barya gang” and solicitors with fake identification cards. We are happy that BCPO has launched already “Isugid Kay Sir Tsip”. We want to request Superintendent Rhoderick Minong to expand his prison cells and prepare more bond papers for police blotter.
We are happy also that even Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr. asked the city officials of Bacolod to clear the city roads with illegal settlers (squatters). I just don’t know if our squatters have been given the role as “members of the welcome party.”
We would like to believe that BCPO has already received the intelligence fund from the city. We don’t want to believe that our policemen cannot be intelligent without the intelligence fund. Our policemen have their sacred duties “to serve and protect.” If there is fund, that could be bonus.
It was mentioned also by Vice Governor Bong Lacson that rebel atrocities could be a blow to tourists. It could affect our tourist arrivals in the “land of sweet surprises”… Province of Negros Occidental. It is alleged that the members of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) are behind these “counter-tourism” actions. Probably, our friends from the “other side” have to give their “side.” We want peace and we want to avoid peace blockers.
Do we still have abusive local government officials around? Do we still have sugarcane planters who do not give the legal wage to their workers? Do we still have oppressive laws that victimize the poor? Do we still have soldiers and policemen who are rotten eggs? Are our local leaders unmindful of their duties and obligations to their constituents? Do we have strong livelihood programs for the farmers and the fisherfolk? Are our local officials protecting the men behind illegal fishing? Do we have violations of human rights in our towns and cities?
These could be some of the questions to be answered. If the members of the CPP-NPA perceived that our local leaders are doing their best, then there is no reason why there should be atrocities. If there are erring officials, they have to name. If there are unaddressed concerns, they have to identify them. We cannot afford to move forward blindfolded. We have to be clean in the cause we are fighting for… and we just don’t kill “to whom it may concern.”
We are all Negrosanons. We are all Filipinos. Policemen just do your job as “good boys.” MassKara Festival is a celebration of life. Let us not be killjoy. There is a time for fighting and a time for peaceful gathering. Unmask your doubts and enjoy MassKara Festival. Feel safe. The policemen are just around.