Lucky are those who live in Bacolod during the highlight of the MassKara festival because it’s nearly impossible to get a hotel in Bacolod during the third week of festivities. Since 1980 Bacolod celebrates its MassKara festival. MassKara stands for “many faces” or “masks” with smiles to represent the Negrenses’ optimism and smile during the first three weeks of October. Developed as a strategy to overcome Negros’ grief and economic depression resulting from the sugar cane crisis since the 80’s, this festival literally transforms the city into a huge street party with music and dance competition, lots of food and drinks and enthusiastic people pouring through Bacolod’s streets along Lacson to the central Plaza.
I personally loved the street dance competitions, which are very colourful. The dancers represent their baranguys, with lots of energy and joy.
On the last MassKara Sunday when the festival’s highlights take place, I went around Plaza to buy a MassKara shirt, which I had unfortunately not thought of before. What would usually have taken me 30-40 minutes took me 2.5 hours. I walked the whole way back because the streets were full of jeepneys that were stuck in the rerouting.
In the evening, I went to the New Government Center for a barbecue with my host family and the final fireworks.
It’s a once-in-a-life-time experience. But if you don’t like crowds, avoid the Plaza on the last Sunday of the three-week MassKara festival because you’ll be stuck in crowds and may also decide to walk all way home just to get going.