The Masskara Festival this Year-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Saturday, August 31, 2013
THIS year is truly special. Not only are we celebrating the 33rd Masskara Festival and the 75th anniversary of Bacolod as a charter city. After decades of celebrating the Masskara Festival, we would finally have a pretty view in the heart of the city to show off to our guests. The good news, everyone, is that we will have a beautiful unobstructed look at the public plaza. At the August 29 press conference at the Bacolod City Government Center, Mayor Monico Puentevella assured the audience that our famous square will be spared from the ukay-ukay booths, the unsightly kiosks, and the makeshift establishments selling beer and other alcohol drinks. (Look ma, no more smell!) Wonderful news this is, indeed. Now, tourists can tour the 1920’s plaza and take photos of the bandstand, the checkerboard floor on which it stands, the tindalo tree that President Manuel L. Quezon planted to commemorate the charter day of Bacolod, and the San Sebastian Cathedral just across.
If our guests want some action, there’ll be merrymaking at Lacson Street (“tuloy ang ligaya”), and happenings scheduled at Araneta Street and also at the reclamation area. The latter is also where 61 barangays of the city will have their own booths to showcase their products. What’s more, the Baywalk area is given a month-long permit to allow the revelers to appreciate the beauty of the sea and to enjoy and relax by the seaside. If you think there’ll be nothing going at the plaza, here’s what our good Mayor has in mind: jamming, dancing, display of folk arts can be done here. Mayor Monico is grateful to our Bishop for cooperating with the city administration considering that the Church makes some income from those renting space for their kiosks at the Plaza. And while we’re on the topic of the plaza, half of this is still owned by the Church (it was once the potato field of the Spanish priests) and with the present-day church supporting its myriad projects for the poor, not renting out space is truly a sacrifice on its part.
To make our visitors’ trip here more convenient for them, a Masskara and Tourism office will be put up beside the Negros Press Club office across the plaza. The Street Dancing Competition judging is moved to the Paglaum Sports Complex so that, rain or shine, the audience can continue watching and rooting for their favorite barangay dancers. Everyone is also assured of their safety. Military groups will be highly visible to maintain peace and order.
The twenty-day celebration will enable most sectors to participate. There are the Government Officials and Employees’ Day; the Military, Police, Fire, Safety, Security Workers’ Day; Barangay Officials’ Day; Children, Youth and Students’ Day; the World Teachers’ Day which is recognized by the DepEd; Judges and Lawyers’ Day; Senior Citizens’ Day; Drivers’ Day; Fisherfolk and Construction Workers’ Day; Arts and Media Day; BPO and IT Workers’ Day; Civil Society Day and Day of Volunteerism; Persons with Disability and Inter-Religious Harmony Day; Bankers, Businessmen and Traders’ Day; Farmers and Market Vendors’ Day; Doctors, Nurses, and Health Workers’ Day; OFW and International People’s Day; Sangguniang Panlungsod Day; and the Adlaw sang Bacolod, 75th Charter Anniversary on October 19.
And why is this year even more special for us all? Not only because we are seriously enjoined to wear masks but also because this is a festival for a cause to benefit health, the environment, the out-of-school youth, and the school feeding programs of the city. This socially-conscious thrust is befitting of the 75th Diamond Jubilee of our city –- a glittering and royal city.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 31, 2013.