Bacolod City, also known as the City of Smiles, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis located in the Negros Island region of the Philippines. It is the capital of Negros Occidental province and is known for its rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and, most notably, its world-famous Masskara Festival.
In this guide, we will dive into the history of Bacolod City and the Masskara Festival, as well as provide a comprehensive guide to the events, activities, and travel tips you need to know to experience this amazing celebration fully. So join us as we discover the heart and soul of Bacolod City and the Masskara Festival!
What is Masskara Festival?
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Every year, the MassKara Festival is held in Bacolod City, Philippines. It is held every year during the third week of October. Masskara is an iconic festival of Bacolod that is known for its colorful masks, dancing, and music. Today, the Masskara Festival has become one of the most popular and highly anticipated events in the Philippines, attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world.
This festival, held in honor of the city’s patron saint, Our Lady of Mercy, showcases the vibrant culture, music, dance, and cuisine of Bacolod. From October 1st to October 31st, 2022, the city will come alive with an array of exciting activities and events that will surely provide an unforgettable experience for both locals and visitors alike.
Masskara Festival Place of Origin
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MassKara Festival is a celebration of life and a symbol of hope, originating in Bacolod City, Philippines. The festival was first established in 1980 as a way to uplift the morale of the citizens of Bacolod, who were struggling due to low sugar prices and the aftermath of the MV Don Juan tragedy, in which many Negrenses, including those from Bacolod City, lost their lives.
MassKara Festival History
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The MassKara Festival is a vibrant and colorful celebration that originates in Bacolod City in the Philippines. This festival has a rich history that dates back early 1980s when the province of Negros Occidental was facing tough times.
At the time, the main agricultural product of the province was sugar cane. The industry was facing low prices due to the introduction of sugar substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup in the United States. This was compounded by a tragedy that struck the province in 1980, when an inter-island vessel called MV Don Juan, which was carrying many Negrenses, including those from influential families in Bacolod City, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sunk in the Tablas Strait off Mindoro. The accident resulted in 18 deaths and 115 missing people.
In light of these events, the then-Mayor Jose “Digoy” Montalvo of the local government set aside a seed fund and asked the city’s artistic community, civic and business groups to organize a “festival of smiles” to lift the citizens’ morale, which had been negatively impacted by the Don Juan Tragedy. This first festival took place on October 19, 1980, the day of the City’s Charter. It was directed by an organizing committee developed by City Hall, led by the late councilman Romeo Geocadin and the city tourism officer Evelio Leonardia. It was a sign of the people’s determination to persist and eventually overcome any hardships they faced.
Over the years, the MassKara Festival has become one of the main annual tourism attractions of the Philippines, celebrated in a manner similar to Oktoberfest and Mardi Gras. It has also evolved to include many different elements, such as the Electric MassKara, which is a parade of MassKara dancers in vivid neon and LED lights that dance on illuminated floats along the Lacson Strip.
The MassKara Festival has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a way to lift the citizens’ morale in the wake of tragedy. Today, it is a symbol of the resilience and determination of the people of Bacolod City and a celebration of the rich culture and heritage of the region.
The MassKara Festival is a testament to the strength, resilience, and cultural heritage of the people of Bacolod City. Its continued popularity serves as a symbol of its determination to overcome any hardship they face.
How and when is MassKara Festival celebrated?
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Each year in October, the city of Bacolod hosts the MassKara Festival. The festival usually lasts for two weeks, and the activities and events are held throughout the city. The festival usually kicks off with a grand opening parade and continues with a variety of activities and events, including street parades, a beauty pageant, and a street dancing competition.
The festival culminates with a spectacular fireworks display. The fireworks display is one of the highlights of the festival and always draws a large crowd of locals and tourists.
What is Masskara Festival Highlights
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One of the most anticipated events of Masskara Festival is the street dance competition, where participants don colorful and intricate masks, called “masskara masks,” to dance and parade down the streets. The masks are designed to reflect the city’s rich cultural heritage and showcase the joy and optimism of its people.
In addition to the street dance competition, Masskara Festival also features a variety of other exciting events, including:
- A culinary festival showcasing the city’s delicious and unique cuisine
- A beauty pageant where contestants from all over the city compete for the title of Masskara Queen
- A music festival featuring local and national musicians and bands
- Art exhibits and craft fairs showcasing the works of local artists and craftsmen
- Sports competitions, including basketball and volleyball tournaments
MassKara Festival Costume
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The traditional MassKara Festival costume typically consists of a smiling mask, a colorful costume, and a headdress. The smiling masks are usually made of brightly painted stripes, dots, or other designs. The costumes are typically made of lightweight materials, such as cotton or polyester, and are decorated with glitter, feathers, and other embellishments.
The headdresses are usually made of natural materials, such as feathers or leaves, and add height and movement to the costume. Overall, the traditional MassKara Festival costume is designed to be bright, colorful, and eye-catching and to bring joy and positivity to the festival celebrations.
MassKara Festival Events Schedule 2023
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Here’s a rough schedule of the events that will be held during Masskara Festival 2022:
- October 1st: Opening ceremony featuring a parade and the lighting of the Masskara Festival monument.
- October 2nd-7th: Culinary festival showcasing the city’s delicious cuisine.
- October 8th-9th: Street dance competition, where participants will parade down the streets in their colorful masskara masks.
- October 10th-15th: Music festival featuring local and national musicians
The centerpiece of the Masskara Festival is the street dance competition, where participants dressed in colorful masks and costumes dance to the rhythm of the city’s unique blend of music. The masks, which feature smiling faces and brightly colored feathers, are the symbol of the festival, and they are said to represent the happiness and joy of the Bacolod people.
In addition to the street dance competition, the Masskara Festival also features a variety of other activities and events, including beauty pageants, concerts, food festivals, and parades. There is something for everyone to enjoy, and visitors can immerse themselves in the culture and energy of Bacolod.
Whether you are a local or a tourist, the Masskara Festival is a must-see event that should not be missed. So mark your calendars and plan your trip to Bacolod for the 2023 Masskara Festival, where you can experience this amazing city’s vibrant energy and culture.
Food Specialties at the Masskara Festival
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In the meantime, while waiting for the celebrations that comprise the Masskara Festival to start, do not forget to savor the best dishes and famed food from Bacolod. As you gaze at the brightly colored masks that are dotted across the streets, learn the best food options at Bacolod first! If you are planning to stay throughout the weekend to experience the main events of the celebrations, embark on a food excursion and treat your taste buds to an unforgettable experience with the festive food that Bacolod, the City of Smiles, is known for.
Here are some top lists recommendations for the foods you can eat in Bacolod during the MassKara Festival:
Manokan Country, Chicken Inasal MassKara Festival 2023
The best time to eat is Dinner or lunch
If you’re in Bacolod, eating chicken inasal (grilled chicken) should not be left out. Although many commercial establishments across the Philippines offer this dish, Hiligaynons cook it better. What is it that makes it the most delicious in the country? It’s skewered and then cooked on an open flame, covered with a distinctive sauce, then placed on a banana leaf and the addition of a cup of garlic rice drizzled with chicken fat. It’s the flavorful authenticity that has captured the smiles of many.
Seafood to eat during MassKara Festival 2023
The recommended spot: Palawud Resto Grill & Bar
The best time to eat dinner: Dinner
The city is close to the ocean and fishing ports. Every day, fresh seafood is brought to the city and cooked in the traditional Hiligaynon way. Visit the Palawud Resto Grill and Bar in Banago for the best seafood. The restaurant is private, so people can eat in peace and feel the cool breeze from the ocean. Seafood can be cooked in soup, grilled, or served warm. It’s important to try the Calamares, which are fried rings of battered squid, and the garlic shrimp, which are covered in butter. They also serve Boodles, which are made from banana leaves to bring back the real taste of the city.
Napoleones recommendation during MassKara Festival 2023
The recommended place to go is Roli’s Cafe.
The best time to eat: A Merienda (Snack or light meals)
Napoleones is a type of puff pastry with a custard-like filling that is topped off with sugar glaze. Beware, it can be addictive! It is advisable to monitor your blood sugar levels if you do too much with this small dessert. Roli’s Cafe was the first vendor of this sweet and delicious dessert.
Cakes to eat recommendation during MassKara Festival 2023
The recommended place to go: Calea Pastries and Cake
The best time to eat: Dessert
Cakes from Calea Pastries and Cake on Lacson Street are another sweet treat that will please your taste buds. Calea’s cakes are a great way to relax while watching the crowds of people walking through the streets. Calea’s bakery store has a lot of choices, but the Chocolate Mud Pie (PhP120), Blue Berry Cheesecake (PhP98), and White Chocolate Cheesecake (PhP100) are some of the most popular cakes.
You should go to this sweet paradise after a delicious dinner or lunch at a restaurant. How can I get to Calea? Take the jeepney with the name Mandalagan-Libertad or Bat and ask to be dropped off in front of the L’Fisher Hotel. You can find these jeepneys near the North Terminal or Downtown. Calea is on the first floor of Lourdes C’s building, which is in front of the hotel at the corner of Lacson Street and 15th Street.
Organic Food during MassKara Festival 2023
The recommended location is: Fresh Start Organic and Natural Store
When is the best time to eat? Dinner or lunch
After you’ve had enough sweets and meat, eat organic food to clean out your stomach. People on Negros Island like organic farming, and many groups are working to protect and preserve the island’s natural environment. Fresh Start Organic & Natural Store is a restaurant that serves a variety of salads, drinks, and pasta. Some of the tasty meals they serve are pesto pasta made from moringa (malunggay) leaves and quesadillas with salsa. The show also has organic food items like Muscovado, which is a table of chocolate, sugar, and coffee-colored rice, as well as many other kinds of colored rice and other foods.
How to get to Bacolod City for Masskara Festival
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Here are the ways to get to Bacolod City for the MassKara Festival:
- By Air: The Bacolod-Silay International Airport is located in Silay City, which is a few kilometers away from Bacolod City. You can fly directly to Bacolod from major cities in the Philippines and some cities in Southeast Asia.
- By Land: You can take a bus or a private car to Bacolod City. The city is connected to major cities in the Philippines by a network of highways and roads.
- By Sea: You can take a ferry to Bacolod City from the neighboring islands of Negros and Panay.
Regardless of your mode of transportation, make sure to plan ahead and book your tickets early. The MassKara Festival is a popular event, and accommodations and transportation can fill up quickly.
MassKara Festival Travel Tips
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By knowing how to get to Bacolod City, you can make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. If you’re planning to visit Bacolod for Masskara Festival 2023, you can also visit some Bacolod tourist Spots. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:
- Book your accommodation early, as the city is likely to be busy during the festival.
- Dress in comfortable clothing and footwear, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking and dancing.
- Plan your itinerary ahead of time so you don’t miss any of the events you want to see.
- Be mindful of your belongings and be careful of pickpockets in crowded areas.
- Try the local cuisine, as it’s a major part of the city’s cultural heritage.
- Be respectful of the city’s traditions and customs, and be mindful of your actions and behavior.
The Masskara Festival 2023 promises to be one of the most exciting events of the year, and a visit to Bacolod during this time is a must for anyone who loves culture, music, dance, and food. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable experience in the “City of Smiles.”
What to Wear During the MassKara Festival 2023
The MassKara Festival is known for its vibrant and colorful costumes. Visitors to the city during the festival should dress in bright colors and festive attire.
Women should wear bright and colorful dresses or skirts, while men should wear brightly colored shirts and shorts. Traditional Filipino costumes are also welcome.
When attending street parades and street dancing competitions, visitors should wear comfortable shoes. Flip-flops and sandals are not recommended, as the streets can be crowded and slippery.
Safety Tips for the MassKara Festival 2023
The MassKara Festival 2023 will be a fun and safe event. Visitors to the city should take precautions to ensure their safety. Here are some safety tips for the MassKara Festival:
- Stay Hydrated: Bring water and drink it regularly to avoid dehydration, especially if you’ll be dancing or walking around in the sun for long periods of time.
- Wear Sunscreen: Apply sunblock to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
- Protect Your Belongings: Be mindful of your belongings and keep an eye on your valuables, especially when you’re in crowded areas.
- Stay with Friends: If you’re attending the festival with friends, make sure to stick together and look out for each other.
- Be Mindful of Your Surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid dark, isolated areas. If you feel uncomfortable, leave the area and find a well-lit, populated place.
- Know the Emergency Exit Points: Familiarize yourself with the emergency exits in case of an emergency.
- Follow the Rules and Regulations: Follow the rules and regulations set by the festival organizers to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable MassKara Festival experience.
Visit Masskara Festival 2023 in Bacolod City
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In conclusion, anyone who wants to experience the rich culture and lively energy of the Philippines should go to Bacolod City. Bacolod City is a place that has something for everyone. It has busy streets, fun festivals, and friendly people. And among the many things to do in the city, the MassKara Festival stands out as a highlight because it shows how strong, optimistic, and happy the people of the city are.
Bacolod City and the MassKara Festival are not to be missed, no matter how often you travel or if this is your first time there. Visit our website to find out more about the Philippines’ most famous festivals and other top tourist spots. Our complete travel guide has all the information you need to plan your trip, from the best places to stay and eat to the most important sights and events. So why hold out? Start making plans right now to go to Bacolod City and the MassKara Festival.
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