Duterte to lead star-studded MassKara opening
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte will declare the official opening of the 37th MassKara Festival on Saturday [October 1], a high-ranking government official disclosed today [Sept. 26].
Deputy Commissioner Jesus Clint Aranas of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), in a phone interview with the media during a press conference of Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, confirmed that Duterte is arriving in Bacolod straight from Vietnam on Oct. 1 for the purpose of gracing the MassKara Festival opening ceremonies.
The BIR official clarified that Duterte is coming only to Bacolod “to open the Masskara Festival” and not for the PDP-Laban oath-taking which is scheduled on Sept. 30, a day ahead of the MassKara opening.
Aranas also revealed that Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea are also attending the opening rites.
Leonardia said this year’s MassKara opening will be the most star-studded of all the MassKara Festivals. He named other national officials who have confirmed attendance on Saturday: Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Secretary Ismael Sueno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Secretary Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the Department of Agriculture, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, Road Board chairman Chito Clavena, and Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, who is the chairman of the League of Cities of the Philippines.
Leonardia added that he also invited mayors from Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to the opening of the MassKara Festival.
He said that so much excitement is being generated by the 2016 MassKara Festival opening because of the “acceptance” of the President of the invitation for the MassKara. “It is overwhelming and by his [Duterte] mere presence alone, we can say that MassKara Festival 2016 is off to its greatest start,” the mayor said.
The President’s coming to Bacolod straight from Vietnam because of the MassKara Festival as his primary reason, is very flattering for us here in Bacolod, he added.
The mayor also pointed out that since Duterte is no ordinary official, it is already expected for Bacolod to have a very tight security.
He said that he already talked to PNP-Negros Island Regional director Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban and Bacolod City Police Office director Senior Superintendent Flynn Dongbo and the city has already started preparations for this.
Leonardia further said that probably, the MassKara Festival would be the first festival that the President would open for this year and that will definitely boost the image and the tourism and commercial value of the festival.
My proposal is that the public plaza will be used as the venue for the opening to be able to accommodate as many people as possible to see the President personally and because it is the most ideal, however, we are open [to other schedule] due to security and the weather, he added.
The public plaza and the Bacolod Government Center will be ready similarly like what we did during the inaugural inauguration of Bacolod City officials last July, he stressed.
The mayor said it is the people from the Office of the President or his security people who will decide on the venue but the most important is that the president is coming to Bacolod to open the MassKara Festival.
Leonardia reiterated that in the 37 years of the MassKara probably “this is the most exciting opening we ever had.”
The official time for the opening is 6 p.m. but we are willing to adjust depending on what the security people will tell us to do, he said.
In fact our mentality with organizers is at any time as long as the president is available and as long he is the one who would pronounce the MassKara open but if it is possible to have it at six, Leonardia stressed.
Festival Director Eli Francis Tajanlangit, meanwhile, said that on Sept. 22, during the launching of the 2016 MassKara Festival, he announced that Bacolod is ready for the world, and today [Sept. 26] he is saying that Bacolod is ready for President Duterte and they are proud to have him in Bacolod.
Tajanlangit said the president will see a run-through of what the festival is like and all of the major activities of the month; the president will see teasers of these events.
He will see the MassKara dancers, the Nights of Mardi Gras, costumed people, listen to drumbeaters and he will see an Electric MassKara float.
Tajanlangit revealed that the opening show on October 1 is going to be a showcase of what the events from October 1 to 23 will look like, as an appreciation to the President’s attention to Bacolod City.
“It is just a sampler of what will be seen on October 1 to 23,” Tajanlangit added.*