BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio Leonardia recognized this year's celebration of the MassKara Festival as the most successful and grandest, making it “like no other” festival in the city's history.
Leonardia, who led the closing ceremonies of the 37th MassKara Festival at the Bacolod Government Center (BGC) last night, said that one significant feature of this year’s festivity is the distinctive influx of revelers.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said this is the most successful MassKara Festival in Bacolod and this is the longest celebration so far.
“This is a MassKara like no other. MassKara is an instrument that unites us as a people,” he said.
He added that every year, there is an improvement in the performance of every barangay participants.
For the two-day highlights only, the police’s crowd estimate for the street and arena dance competition along Araneta Street and public plaza is not less than 30,000.
This is on top of the 20,000 crowd during the closing rites at the BGC highlighted by the finale of the fireworks display competition.
Thousands of “warm bodies” also gathered in other festival sites, including Lacson Tourism Strip and Reclamation Area.
Leonardia cited the talents and artistry of the Bacolodnons, particularly in the festival dance competition, which also made this year's celebration more unique.
“MassKara Festival has continued to be a global attraction, it is like a magnet that consistently captures more local and foreign tourists every year," the mayor said, stressing that aside from being the longest MassKara, this year’s celebration is a classic example of a successful festivity both in quality and quantity.
The mayor also recalled President Rodrigo Duterte's presence during the opening ceremony as another breakthrough “which had set higher standards and started a momentum that was fast and furious.”
Due to its success, the MassKara Festival is now being eyed as the next venue of the gathering of the International Mask Culture and Arts Organization, a non-government organization of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), in 2019.
“We cannot imagine Bacolod without MassKara Festival. It has been a spirit that unifies the people of all walks of life,” Leonardia added.
Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency John Gomes, who graced the occasion yesterday, said MassKara Festival has given him a great experience.
Gomes said the engaging laughs and smiles of the Bacolodnons reflected on the masks are sending a message of optimism to the world.
“This message is something that we can send to other countries that we could still be happy even amidst the most difficult times,” he added.
Gomes also vowed to help further promote Bacolod through its MassKara Festival.
“The world should know that there is a place in the Philippines where people colorfully gather in celebrating optimism and good disposition of lives despite many forms of struggle,” he added.