TO THWART any untoward incident from happening at the highlight of the MassKara Festival on October 23, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) approves the request of organizers of the festivity and the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) to implement a “signal shutdown.

Lawyer Pinky Mirano-Ocampo, festival director, clarified that the “shutdown” will only be limited to performance areas such as the major dance routes and the Festival Arena at the Paglaum Stadium.

Mirano-Ocampo noted that they are expecting the arrival of the first family led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the MassKara Street Dance and Arena Dance Competition and Electric Masskara events.

As to the requested gun ban during the conduct of the festival.

Meanwhile, BCPO Director Colonel Thomas Martir said they are still waiting for the approval of Camp Crame, adding that the gun ban is aimed at preventing the crimes using firearms from occurring.

Exempted from the gun ban are shootfest activities as part of the festivities, he said

Meanwhile, despite the drizzle, thousands trooped to the Bacolod City Government Center to join the countdown for the official start of the 43rd MassKara Festival on Friday, September 30.

The BCPO estimated the crowd at the event dubbed as “MassKara Kick-off Salubong” at 20,000, many of whom stayed for the countdown at midnight which was capped by a spectacular eight-minute fireworks display.

“This is what we have been preparing for, to give you the biggest and grandest MassKara Festival,” Mayor Albee Benitez told the crowd.

Accompanied by Bacolod Representative Greg Gasataya and the city councilors, Benitez enjoined the crowd to “see what we have to offer in the next three weeks. We have prepared a lot of exciting programs and I hope you will enjoy this festival.”

Gasataya described this year’s festival as “super MassKara,” and now, “the smiles are back in this city.”

Rock icon Rico Blanco, together with other local entertainers and the contestants of the Miss Bacolod MassKara, kept the crowd going till midnight for the countdown.

Festival Director Pinky Ocampo said this is “just a preview of what the people can expect in the succeeding weeks and we promise to keep the momentum going and make it even grander during the MassKara highlights on October 21 to 23.”

On Saturday, the BCPO said over 2,000 participated at the 1st MassKara Bike Fun Ride with Councilor Jason Villarosa and EB Magalona Mayor Marvin Malacon spotted among the participants.

Gift prizes were given to riders who joined in MassKara costumes while grand winner in the raffle draw was Pamela Gargar who went home with a Trek Mountain Bike. (with PR)