MassKara Festival began at the time of doom and gloom in Negros Occidental.
World market prices for sugar, the province’s monocrop, went down. And its impact was felt, all ones.
A year before the MassKara Festival was born, two artists approached then Mayor Jose “Digoy” Montalvo and broached the idea of popularizing mask masking as an alternative livelihood for the city.
The two, George Macainan and Ely Santiago, offered to help train barangay folk how to make masks out of paper mâché.
Montalvo liked the idea of mask-making for livelihood.
But how will the masks produced by the barangays be marketed? Who will buy them?
The mayor had an answer: Let’s have a mask festival!
Santiago drew the first MassKara logo, and thought of the name of the festival: MassKara; “mass” meaning many; “kara” meaning faces. Literally, it is a Festival of Many Faces.
Then M/V Don Juan—an inter-island vessel carrying many Bacolenos and Negrense, inclusing prominent families—sank in April 22 of the same year, adding to the gloom.
In its wake, the question rose: With the crisis and tragedy, shall the festival proceed as scheduled?
Montalvo had answered: “Precisely because of the crisis and tragedy, the more we need a festival that will bring back the smile on people’s faces and make them dance.
Thus the MassKara’s underlying meaning is that it is a declaration of the people’s resolve to rise above adversity and triumph over crisis, tragedy, and disaster.
It also followed the positioning of Bacolod as “The City of Smiles”.
Major activities such as beauty pageant MassKara Queen, Electric MassKara—Bacolod’s biggest street party, MassKara Red Party—a party for the Bacoleño youth, Choreographers’ Face-off—a street showdown of the city’s top choreographers, singing and dance contest, and fireworks competitions, among others, are being organized each year.
And the MassKara Street and Arena Dance Competition, where participants from schools and barangays in the city wear colorful masks and costumes and dance to the infectious rhythm of the locally-composed music, highlights the festival.
About the MassKara Logo
Created by artist Mark Lester Jarmin, this year’s logo incorporates elements from the first festival logo designed by Ely Santiago.
The 2019 theme is “Bacolod, City of Smiles.”
The logo features Yuhom, the MassKara icon introduced three years ago, dressed up as a MassKara dancer, wearing a mask with 40 colorful feathers—symbolizing the 40 years of the festival and a crown with ruby gem and eight diamond studs for the eight decades of Bacolod City.
“Yuhom” is a Hiligaynon word that means smile.
It also features the red elements from the first logo as well as the text ‘MassKara’.
Yuhom is also jumping as an expression of excitement for the 40th celebration of the MassKara Festival.*