Saturday, October 27, 2007


Every October, the streets of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental become a sight of merriment. There are many dancers dancing their hearts away and all wearing mask and people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see colorfully-masked dancers dances their heart away to the infectious rhythm of the Latin musical beat in a stunning display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina. This is what they called the “MassKara Festival”.

The word "MassKara" was coined by the late artist Ely Santiago from the word "mass" meaning "many or a multitude of the people", and the Spanish word "cara" meaning "face". MassKara thus means a multitude of smiling faces. Masskara was conceived by the Art Association of Bacolod (AAB), the intention was to creatively organize a street dance parade thus getting away from a “meaningless” civic-military parade. It was also meant to hide the tears and sorrows of how Negros suffered from the sugar crisis and the “Don Juan” sea mishap killing hundreds of Negrenses.

The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. On that time, Negros Occidental relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low.