MassKara dancers wow Tokyo

TOKYO - The audience at the 2014 Philippine Festival held in this Japanese capital were very happy to finally see the world-renowned MassKara Festival up close and personal.

The MassKara dancers from Bacolod performed at the two-day Philippine Festival, held August 30 and 31 at the Euno Park, which was attended by Filipino and Japanese dignitaries.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez said, “I have not seen the MassKara Festival dancers in Bacolod. I have to see them in Tokyo to enjoy it. Thank you for coming over.”

His wife, Maria Teresa Lopez, also said, “They are so good. I have always wanted to see the MassKara dancers in Bacolod but somehow I have never been able to, but now I am so happy to see them here in Tokyo. Thank you so much."

A mix crowd of Japanese and Filipino communities, particularly Negrenses and Bacolodnons, also watched the two-day performances of the MassKara dancers at the Philippine Festival.

Other Japanese dignitaries included Japanese Ambassador - designate to the Philippines Kazuki Ishikawa, Rep. Yukio Ubukata, Councilor Kenai Kodaka and Councilor Takeshi Maeda.

The Japan trip of the MassKara festival dancers was sponsored by Globe Telecom through Globe Ambassador and consultant to Japan Jodie Alvaran, who is also the secretary-general of Philippine Festival Organizing Committee (PFOC).

Many have enjoyed the performance of the MassKara festival dancers who were more upbeat with the Latin music and applause from the crowd.

Even if they were each carrying a five-kilogram headdress, mask and costume, the MassKara dancers were both energetic and graceful throughout their performance.

They were choreographed by perennial winning choreographer Segundo Jesus “Panoy “Cabalcar, who also accompanied them in Tokyo.
Ambassador Lopez said it gives him great pleasure to welcome everyone to the 2014 Philippine Festival, now on its third consecutive year of bringing the best of the Philippine festivals to Japan.

“The Philippines is known as the land of fiestas for we have many colorful celebrations where we can express our love for music, dance, good food and the company of our fellow men. Traditionally, our festivals are also opportunities to give thanks for a good harvest and to pray for blessings for our family and community,” Lopez said.

The Philippine Festival is organized by the Filipino community in Japan. “This is a time for the Filipino community to get together again in this festival. There are more than 225,000 Filipinos working and residing in Japan,” he added.

This year’s theme is “Bayanihan Tulong sa Bayan.” Lopez said he hopes Filipinos in Japan will continue to lend a hand to typhoon victims, especially super typhoon Yolanda, back home who are still working to rebuild their lives and community.

“I join my countrymen in taking this opportunity to reiterate our appreciation to the people of Japan for their tremendous support for the typhoon victims, both immediately after the calamity and the ongoing rehabilitation of the typhoon affected areas. We are very touched and overwhelmed by the gestures of the Japanese people in helping,” Lopez said.

Festival chairperson Jenavilla Shigemizu, for her part, said, “Let us work together to promote this festival and continue to help the Yolanda victims alleviate their lives again which is for the betterment of our country.”

Eleanor Fukuda, vice chairperson of the PFOC, welcomed the guests and visitors to the second day of the festival and thanked those who made the festival a success.

Bacolod Councilor Wilson “Jun” Gamboa Jr. narrated the birth of the MassKara Festival. He said the festival was borne out of the collective will of the Bacolodnons to rise above the tragedies: the collapse of the sugar industry and the sinking of M/V Don Juan which claimed more than 700 lives of Negrense and Bacolodnons in 1980.

With these misfortunes, Gamboa recalled that the people of Bacolod decided to pull themselves out of the gloom by holding a unique type of parade during the city’s celebration of its charter anniversary every 19th of October.

This festive and artistic street dance parade is now known as the MassKara Festival, he added.
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