THE 40th MassKara Festival, themed “Bacolod City of Smiles,” will officially open Monday, October 7, at the Bacolod Public Plaza.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia will lead the opening rites at 6 p.m., along with other city officials and the Silver MassKara Festival Organization Inc. (SMFOI) led by its director, Eli Francis Tajanlangit.
This year’s Ruby MassKara Festival will be celebrated from October 7 to 27.
The festival sites are in the Bacolod Government Center, the Bacolod Public Plaza, and the Lacson Tourism Strip.
Leonardia earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte will grace the MassKara Festival for the fourth consecutive year.
The President has graced the MassKara Festival since he was elected in 2016. Leonardia said Duterte has attended the festival for three consecutive years.
"It’s three years straight and anything beyond that is a bonus," he said.
In 2018, the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, also witnessed some of the festival's highlights.
“The MassKara is now a full-grown international and global material, and we’re looking forward to a MassKara like no other,” Leonardia said.
Meanwhile, homegrown artist RJ Lacson also unveiled an art installation depicting 40 years of the world-renowned MassKara Festival at the Bacolod Government Center Fountain Area last Sunday night, October 6.
Lacson, a photographer, filmmaker, and production designer, said the installation is a series of statements in the 40 years of the festival that has tried to define what MassKara is.
“It will somehow give us a glimpse on how the festival, for the past 40 years, has showcased different artists and choreographers that gave the festival its sensibilities and uniqueness,” he said.
The installation depicts three dancers moving in different actions and wearing costumes with a mix of haute couture and seasoned patterns and designs.
The dancers represent the street dance that is one of the festival’s highlights.
"These designers, along with the others contributing their work, exemplify aspects of MassKara in their design, putting theatricality, irony, and humor on the checkered flooring of Bacolod's public plaza," Lacson said.
Meanwhile, the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) is on “full alert” status during the celebration of the 40th MassKara Festival from October 7 to 27.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Pico, spokesperson of BCPO, said Sunday, October 6, a total of 600 policemen from the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas arrived in Bacolod on Saturday to beef up the existing city police force for the festival.
He said the 600 policemen were already deployed in various areas, including festival sites at the Bacolod Government Center, the public plaza, Lacson Street, and the area of Manokan Country, to maintain peace and order.
BCPO earlier requested 1,600 policemen from PRO-Western Visayas to augment its existing personnel.
“We expect that by next week, additional policemen will be deployed here for the MassKara Festival. We want to ensure not only the peace and order, but also the safety of everybody during the festival especially in the festival sites,” Pico said.
He said backpacks, ball caps, bladed weapons, and pointed sticks are prohibited at the festival sites as well as those who are wearing more than two T-shirts to avoid untoward incidents during the festival.
He added that BCPO Director Henry Binas also ordered all the station chiefs to continue their operations against illegal drugs, oplan sita, and checkpoint operation within their areas of jurisdiction.
BCPO also requested PRO-Western Visayas to suspend permits to carry firearms outside residences during the 40th MassKara Festival from October 7 to 27.
“We will wait for the approval of PRO-Western Visayas if they will grant our request to implement the gun ban during the festival,” Pico said.
He also appealed to the people of Bacolod to help the police in sustaining peace and order situation.