MassKara Festival is an annual festival in Bacolod City with highlights every fourth Sunday of October with street dancers in colorful costumes, masks and headdresses. Bacolod City invites you to the “happiest and most colorful festival in the Philippines” which will be a month-long celebration with concerts, food fests, street parties, and a lot of activities will draw thousands of visitors to the City of Smiles.
If it’s your first time to attend MassKara Festival, things can be overwhelming not knowing what to do. I prepared this guide for first-timers because I have been in your shoes. You can read about my MassKara festival experience and you will be very excited to visit the MassKara Festival every yea. I hope this guide will help you.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE
- 1 MassKara Festival 2018 Schedule
- 2 MassKara Festival 2017 Winners
- 3 MassKara Festival Travel Guide and Tips
- 4 Everything You Need To Know About MassKara Festival
MassKara Festival 2018 Schedule
MassKara Festival 2018 highlights will be on October 28, 2018 since the schedule of MassKara Festival was fixed every fourth Sunday of October based on the ordinance authored by Councilor Em Ang. It is now easier to plan ahead your travel for MassKara Festival 2018.
The main event of MassKara Festival is the street dancing competition where dancers don colorful costumes and masks and move to the rhythm of Latin music.
In addition to the MassKara street dancing competition, Electric MassKara is another most awaited event. This is also a street dancing competition but dancers wore masks with colorful lights and this is done at night.
Other major events are the MassKara Queen beauty pageant, carnivals, drum and bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concerts, agriculture-trade fairs, garden shows, and other special events organized every year.
Major roads during the MassKara Festival highlights are closed to facilitate the flow of participants and visitors. The public and motorists are advised to take note of the traffic and road closures to avoid confusion.
There are no details yet to MassKara Festival 2018, subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
MassKara Festival 2017 Winners
Street and Dance Arena Competition
- Champion: Barangay 18 – Best in Mask, Concept, Costume, and in Choreography
- First Runner-up: Barangay Punta Taytay
- Second Runnr-up: Barangay Mandalagan – Best in Cheer
- Third Runner-up: Barangay Tangub
High School Category
- Champion: Romanito P. Maravilla Sr. National High School – Best in Costume, Mask, Concept, and Choreography
- First Runner-up: Paglaum Village National High School
- Second Runner-up: Bacolod City National High School
- Third Runner-up: Domingo Lacson National High School
- Champion: Apolinario Mabini Elementary School – Best in Choreography and Best in Concept
- First Runner-up: Education and Training Center School-I (ETCS) – Best in Costume
- Second Runner-up: Luis B. Puentevella Elementary School
- Third Runner-up: Bata Elementary School-II – Best in Mask
Electric MassKara Performing Floats
- Champion: Barangay 22
- First Runner-up: Barangay 5
- Second Runner-up: Barangay Singcang-Airport
MassKara Queen 2017
- MassKara Queen 2017: Fercy Lyn Almaiz
- First Runner-up: Claire Therese Porras
- Second Runner-up: Vina Mae Peña
MassKara Festival Travel Guide and Tips
How to get to Bacolod City
Bacolod City is only 50 minutes by plane form Metro Manila. Bacolod is also accessible by sea and RORO vessels (Fastcat RORO Iloilo-Bacolod). From Bacolod-Silay Airport, you can take a shuttle (P150 per head), or a taxi and ask to be dropped off to your hotel. If direct flights from Manila to Bacolod are no longer available, or if they are already too expensive, consider taking the flight to Iloilo City. You can get to Bacolod from Iloilo in one hour through a fast craft.
Hotels and Pension Houses are usually booked months before October so if you are looking for alternative accommodations, you can try at hotels, pension houses and resorts in nearby cities of Talisay, Silay, and Bago. There also listings available on AirBnB.
Below are some of our recommended hotels and resorts in Bacolod and nearby cities.
Going Around Bacolod City During MassKara Festival
Going around Bacolod City is easy since there are various jeepney routes plying around Bacolod with minimum fare of P7.50 per head. There are also tricycles and pedicabs for short distances with P10 per fare per head. If you are going to rent, then you have to pay for the total seats usually P20 for the pedicab and P100 for the tricycle depending on your destination. There are also a lot of taxi cabs in Bacolod but avoid the ones that do not use the meter. I can personally recommend Faith Taxi , they’re very reliable and I haven’t had a bad experience with them. Grab Taxi and Grab Car are also available in Bacolod.
Some main roads like Araneta Street and Lacson Street may be closed to vehicle during MassKara Festival so be prepared to take some walk by wearing comfortable shoes. Take this also as an opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds around the main streets of Bacolod. Araneta and Lacson streets are very much alive with concerts and events for the MassKara Festival.
Tips for First-Timers
1. Read on the different aspects of life in Bacolod – the food, culture and history as well as the must-visit sites. Choosing the right places to visit saves you a lot of time. Don’t be a tourist, be one with the locals and familiarize with the local culture so you get to enjoy Bacolod in all its different facets.
2. Prepare for any weather. It would help to check for the weather outlook for Bacolod. But with climate change, be prepared for a scorching hot day or a rainy day. Bring a folding umbrella and a hat which will come in handy for any weather. Don’t forget to apply sunblock and bring ample drinking water.
3. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. There will be a lot walking so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. My personal choice is Skechers. They are very comfortable and fashionable too.
4. Get the best view of the street dancing competition. The best area to watch the performances is at the Bacolod Public Plaza where the dance arena is held. If you’re a blogger or affiliated with a media outlet and want to get closer to the dancers and get on the streets where the action is, I suggest you get a photographer’s ID. With a photographer’s ID, you can enter all major activity areas and you can also enter your photos for the contest.
5. Get on the street at least an hour before the start of the streetdancing which is usually at 2PM. Whether you have a photographer’s ID or not, there are a lot of spots where you can get a good photo opportunities with the dancers. Good spots are the Araneta-Libertad Street (near Bacolod Chicken Haus), in front of Rizal Elementary School and in front of Lopue’s Araneta and Lopue’s San Sebastian.
6. Don’t go to sleep, at least not until you get to party along Lacson Street. As the Tourism Strip of Bacolod, Lacson Street is where most parties and concerts will be held during MassKara Festival. Don’t worry about food because you’ll never go hungry in Lacson Street because it’s lined with local restaurants and international fastfood chains.
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Bacolod
It’s more fun to visit Bacolod during MassKara Festival but there’s more to Bacolod Negros Occidental has a lot of tourist attractions waiting to be discovered. We have listed down 101 Things to enjoy in Bacolod but below are Top 10 Reasons to Visit Bacolod other than MassKara Festival, in no particular order.
1. The Ruins. There are many ancestral houses in Negros Occidental but none of them has a story as interesting and romantic as the Ruins of Mariano Lacson’s mansion… and none of them has an equally interesting and engaging guide named Roger.
2. Heritage Houses and Delicacies of Silay City. This city has the most number of NHI registered ancestral houses in the Philippines and three of which were turned into museums. Silay City is also home to famous delicacies of Negros Occidental and home to the oldest bakeshop in the province, El Ideal.
3. Museums and Art Galleries– Negros museums are time capsules of the lifestyles of Negrenses. Know more about the history of the province and sugar as its lifeblood by visiting the Negros Museum and the Museum Negrense de La Salle. Are Nunelucio Alvarado and Charlie Co sounds familiar to you? Well, they’re some of the country’s top artists and they’re from Bacolod City. You can find their works and of other local artists in various Bacolod Art Galleries such as Italia Restaurant and Gallery Orange.
4. Organic Food and Agriculture– Negros Island is the Organic Agriculture capital of the Philippines so if you want to learn more about Organic Agriculture, or simply want to taste Organic Food, then Bacolod is the best place for you. Visit the Peñalosa Farms, AID Foundation and May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant if you want to be inspired to try the organic lifestyle.
5. Local Food and Drinks – Ilonggo foods are among the tastiest in the country. Think of Bacolod Chicken Inasal, Batchoy, Bas-uy, Cansi – I’m sure you’re already salivating. You can have all these and more in Bacolod. Did I mention drinks? Yes, we have locally produced Federico’s Wine, Bogsbrew Beer and Don Papa Rum. And after you’ve had all the intoxicating drinks, sober up with our local coffee brews from Fresh Start Organics, Bob’s Café and Kuppa.
6. Cakes and Pastries – In Bacolod, you can have all the cakes you want and eat them too. We aren’t the “sugar bowl” of the Philippines for nothing. We have the best pastries and delicacies in the country such as napoleons and piaya and cakes and pastries from Calea, Bob’s, Bascon and Felicia’s.
7. Mambukal Resort – When it comes to eco-destinations, Mambukal Resort is one of the top destinations in Negros and one which is very accessible from Bacolod City. Only 45 minutes from Bacolod and you’ll be able to enjoy the seven-tiered waterfalls, visit the butterfly garden, watch the fruit bats, take a dip in the warm spring pool, or be treated to a relaxing spa.
8. Campuestohan Highland Resort – Just minutes away and within the boundaries of Bacolod and Talisay Cities is Campuestohan Highland Resort, a family destination offering various amenities with a picturesque view of the mountains. At 800-meter above sea level, Campuestohan enjoys a relatively cooler climate than Bacolod and Talisay Cities and it even gets colder when fog engulfs the place.
9. Churches – In addition to colonial churches, Negros Occidental has some of the most interesting churches in the country. Colonial churches such as the San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod, Mary Magdalene of Hinigaran, San Diego Pro Cathedral of Silay are just some of the province’s colonial churches. Churches such as the St. Joseph the Worker in Victorias (Church or Angry Christ), Chapel of the Cartwheels in Manapla and the Virgen Sang Barangay Chapel in Bacolod are churches to visit for spiritual and cultural enrichment.
10. Negros Products. Don’t leave Bacolod without bringing home products handcrafted by Negrense hands. The Negros Showroom by the Association of Negros Producers houses the best products in Negros Island. Most of the producers are small enterprises and a majority of them managed by women.
In addition to these wonderful reasons to visit Bacolod, every visitor gets a bonus, the infectious smile of the locals.
Everything You Need To Know About MassKara Festival
History of MassKara festival
The MassKara Festival has become an icon for Bacolod as the City of Smiles. It has become the symbol of how Negrenses triumphed over difficult times. The MassKara Festival was conceived in a time when the Province of Negros Occidental was reeling from the effects of the sugar crisis. Having depended largely on the sugar industry for so long, the looming crisis had devastating effects to thousands whose livelihood depended on it.
Another devastating event struck Bacolod City on April 22, 1980. The inter-island vessel M/S Don Juan carrying around a thousand Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, collided with the M/T Tacloban City and sank. An estimated 700 lives were lost including the family of then Bacolod City Mayor Jose Montalvo. The Don Juan tragedy was probably one of the darkest times in the history of Bacolod City.
It was in these trying times in 1980 that a group of city officials led by the late Mayor Jose Montalvo Jr., artists and civic leaders conceived MassKara Festival to liven up the Charter Day Celebration of Bacolod City. The term MassKara was coined by the late president of the Arts Association of Bacolod (AAB), Ely Santiago, from the English word “mass” meaning “many or multitude of people” and the Spanish word “cara” meaning “face”. It was how MassKara came to mean “face of the masses or a multitude of smiling faces”. From then on MassKara Festival was held every third week of October for the celebration of Bacolod City’s Charter Day and as a reminder to Bacolodnons and Negrenses of their resilience.
MassKara Festival Logo
The original MassKara Festival logo was designed by Ely Santiago. Today, the logo changes every year based on the theme.
MassKara Festival 2017 Logo
The 2017 MassKara festival logo was done by digital artist Mark Lester Jarmin who hails from Barangay Banago, Bacolod City. Jarmin specializes in character mascot design, cartoon logo identities, and web and print illustrations. His creations have been published by dozens of websites and international companies. This is the first time that the MasKara festival is represented by a character logo.
Below are some of the colorful designs over the years to show you the evolution of the MassKara Festival logo.
MassKara Festival Mask & Costume
MassKara Festival masks and costumes are some of the most extravagant in the Philippines. The masks used to be simply smiling faces made from papier-mâché . Today, masks used during the competition are made from fiberglass with colorful and extravagant designs made from a mix of materials. The festival mask can be as heavy as two kilograms. Just imagine the stamina of the dancers who endure four hours of street-dancing wearing their heavy masks. For MassKara masks souvenirs, visit Jojo Vito Designs Gallery.
The festival costumes have also evolved. MassKara Festival streetdancers used to wear tanga but since more male dancers now join, most costumes are now consisting of pants.
The addition of the Electric MassKara in the festival in 2007 adds more color to the festival. The street dancing competition for the Electric MassKara is done at night and the masks and costumes of the dancers are adorned with LED lights.
Every year, the ABS-CBN holds a MassKara Festival mask making contest which is open to the public. This event provides a venue to showcase the creativity of the Bacolodnons where visitors can look at their colorful designs of masks at the MassKara Village exhibit.
MassKara Festival Music
As the MassKara Festival evolves, so does the music. From the medley of Trini Lopez to folk songs, from Latin beat to electric and house mix, the MassKara Festival music also has a colorful evolution, and sometimes controversial. But no matter what music the organizers choose each year, Bacolodnons continue to dance in the streets to celebrate life.
MassKara Festial 2017 Music
The MassKara Festival 2017 streetdance music was composed, arranged and produced by Roberto “Bob” Aves, a leading proponent of Philippine jazz.
The music is divided into three parts. The introduction, Part 1, is an “inter-cultural dialog,” a mix of ethnic sounds from Filipino indigenous culture: Tongatong (bamboo instruments) of Kalinga, voice ad libs called “Tata” by Panay Bukidnon, Palawan bamboo and gong counter rhythm, Babandir gongs of Maguindanao, and big Taiko drum accents from Japan (Asian).
Part 2 or the “street dancing” features the evolution “from tradition to global transformation” with the use of Electronic Dance Music style, vocal tracks by JoAnn Bernal, Jet Estefani, Tim dela Rama, and Christian Morales, and “Tata” from the Panay Bukidnon.
Part 3 is “ASEAN Integration” featuring various ASEAN musical flavors, hip hop by Christian Morales, Maguindanao Kulintang excerpts, and Negros “Afro-Cuban” beats.
Part 4 is a recap of the main theme for street-dancing.
Listen to the MassKara Festival 2017 music below as well as the music from previous MassKara festivals.