Every October, Bacolod City celebrates the Bacolod Masskara Festival, one of the biggest festivities in the Visayas. Literally, it is a festival of masks. You can join in the festival held annually every third weekend of October or that which is nearest to October 19, the Charter Inauguration Anniversary of the city of Bacolod.
The Masskara Festival of Bacolod is considered the biggest party in Bacolod during the Charter Anniversary. It was first celebrated to add color, glitter and joy to the occasion.
A smiling mask was adopted by the organizers as the symbol for the festival to put into drama the happy spirit of the Negrenses and for the people to forget the periodic economic problems of the sugar industry.
The festival features a myriad of events such as costumed parades, sports competitions, concerts, cultural performances, and most especially cheap food and drink.
Yes you read me correctly, FOOD and DRINKS! A glass of beer during the festival can cost only P5.00, and you can pretty much get it around every corner. The merry making and drinking usually start when the sun goes down and often last till just before sunrise.
The people of Negros including local and foreign visitors are given the chance to drink, dine, street dance and be happy for 20 days since the festival usually last from October 1 to 20.
The festival was originally celebrated to show the hardships of the Negrenses but it is now serving as a tool for escapism and a way to earn money for big businesses. Throughout the week, people from all over the Visayas converge in the town plaza to join Bacolenos in non-stop festivities which include street dancing, singing, pole climbing competition, and pig catching.
There is also a mask making contest, a disco king and queen competition and coconut milk drinking. The highlight of the festival is the marching of civic groups, commercial establishments, schools and even private and government entities wearing painted masks and elaborate costumes.
From the word “mass” which means a crowd or multitude, and “kara” meaning faces.
The National Geographic has included the Bacolod Masskara Festival among the October travel events you shouldn’t miss!
The term Masskara is created from the word mass or crowd combined with the word cara for face and was coined by Ely Santiago who is a painter and cartoonist. Ely Santiago is also a cultural artist who showed his artworks which reflects the many faces of the people of Negros overcome with different crises.
The popularity of the Bacolod Masskara Festival as a Philippine festival has been growing in recent years as more and more local and foreign visitors are visiting Bacolod City to both see the colorful masks and participate in the street parties. It is definitely a Mardi Gras as the street are turned into huge party.
Well eating and partying are just two of the best things to do in the Bacolod City but it isn’t the only thing, there are Spanish colonial houses, churches and cathedrals which you can visit.
There are also smaller stalls and markets around the city which sell local handicrafts and souvenirs. If you tire of the city, then go to the countryside and visit Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano, and take a stroll around the national park. The park features hot springs and waterfall of sulfur so be careful where you choose to dive.
Bacolod’s sights and sounds are guaranteed to give you a lasting memory but I think the food and the welcoming attitude of the people will be the primary reasons for you to come back. I guarantee that after a few hours of eating and walking around Bacolod City, you’ll also be wearing a smile of your own.