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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reminiscing Masskara Festival

"I can't help but sometimes reminisce on that awesome experience I had in 1988."

Sales were unusually brisk those days. All my peddled merchandise from cigarettes, candies, chips to boiled eggs just disappear so fast that I lost count of the number of times I went to buy goods for replenishment. In my mind, there is no time for getting carried away with the revelries that I come across. I was a kid then when I stayed with my sister's family in Bacolod. They make their living as sidewalk vendors. Normally, we would take turns manning our small stand day and night so as not to lose sales opportunity. Our small cigarette stand was ideally located right in front of the Corazon Locsin Memorial Regional Hospital a.k.a. Western Visayas Regional Hospital at the heart of Lacson Street. That was in 1988 the very first ever Masskara Festival Celebration I had ever witnessed, and coincidentally the grandest of all editions, for it was the 50th founding of the cityhood of Bacolod.

For several days the entire Lacson Street, the main thoroughfare in the city was closed to traffic for the seemingly non-stop float parade and countless other spectacular street parades showcasing various faces depicting life in Negros. What gave the celebration all the more unparalled in extravagance was that, it coincided with the golden anniversary of the cityhood of Bacolod. The festival was evidently well-planned perhaps a couple of years ahead. The experience was so amazing. The participation of all towns and cities in the province had amounted to a fierce competition for the most beautiful float each with distinct theme and peculiarity.

Movie stars and countless celebrities take turns each day in the city's public plaza to entertain people. Even PBA players did not want to be outshone (appearance fee is known to be hefty). Evangelists from other parts of the world were not also denied of the opportunity to preach the gospel. There were Koreans, Americans and African evangelists with specific nights assigned to them. I remember attending one night with Wanda Casper as the speaker.  Ray-Ann Fuentes and  Carla Martinez were present and sang gospel songs. So when I saw Carla as a villainess on a certain TFC program, I hated her for her character ha ha! I was poised to ask her if "did she backslide?"

On the exciting part, the highlight of the festival would always be the competition in the street dance parade. I may have not gone to other equally renowned festivals, but I would say the Masskara Festival of Bacolod epitomizes pure revelry and the spectacular show it offers make it the most awesome and liveliest festival of all. A wave of beautiful and meticulously crafted masks donned by  dancers from different participating groups  becomes the single most astonishing attraction. Their costumes look ostentatious and whimsical  you would think the sun would cease to shine on them the next day ('though hyperbolic). It seemed to me their life's savings had been expended solely on their costumes. People who flock the streets local or foreigners would get carried away with the beats and sounds that you would see them revel in a care-free mode.

Lastly, everyone's most awaited event is the culmination night when the Miss Masskara Festival is crowned. The delegates come from different towns and cities, universities and colleges and component barangays of Bacolod. It is a grand showcase of beauty and talent because the most feared Q&A is being asked in Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, so that every candidate will have her fair share of composed and honest answer not wanting to scream out the perpetual cause of  (already battered) street children. Thus, a beautiful and talented lass from a remote highland town stands a chance against more articulate candidates from prestigious universities in Bacolod. Sounds fair huh?

As this year's Masskara Festival nears its highlight, I can't help but sometimes reminisce on that awesome experience I had in 1988. Though I was so preoccupied with my trade that time, I could still visualize the entire experience. The public plaza filled with kiosks selling different kinds of merchandise: from mementos, unique Negrense products, beer, lechon manok and even the ubiquitous prostis roaming around were some of the unique features of the city. How time flies and it has been 21 years. That time I did not have my clear goal in life yet. I was just happy to count my daily sales and would just go straight to Gaisano Dept. Store to buy a shirt from my commission. How funny!

Link:Bacolod Masskara Festival

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Anonymous said...

Someday, when I have enough money, my own dslr and have overcome my fear of airplanes, I will got to festivals and this one would be in my list, definitely.

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