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MassKara Festival

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History & Cultural Relevance

The sugarcane industry in Negros boomed in the 1950s but the Philippines' history with the said trade started way before that. Three decades later, Bacolod was in the grip of crisis. The price of sugar plummeted and this gravely affected the province of Negros Occidental, then one of the biggest suppliers of sugar. As if to make things worse, a number of Negrense lives were lost when a passenger vessel collided with another inter-island ship on April 22 of the same year.

Instead of going through a period of mourning and depression, the shattered city decided to unveil a festival of smiles to lift their spirits, raise their morale, promote their tourism, and, hopefully, reclaim their lost economy.

Thus the MassKara Festival—portmanteau of mass (English for “a multitude of people”) and cara (Spanish for “face”), as well as a play on maskara (Filipino for “mask”)—was born, and it has remained popular with tourists from all over the archipelago. For a few days, smiles and laughter would be plastered permanently on the faces of the Negrenses through gaudy masks. This was the response of the "City of Smiles" and the MassKara Festival was a declaration that no adversity could quash their happiness.


Locals and tourists alike visit the City of Bacolod for a whiff of its sugar-laced lands, infectious smiles, and days of merrymaking.

Various competitions among Negrenses are being held during the festivity such as the Electric MassKara, Street Dancing, and the MassKara Queen Pageant.

Aside from the colorful MassKara Festival, the provincial capitol and its nearby places have a lot more to offer—from stunning and historic destinations, to Sugarland's mouthwatering sweets, and to family-friendly vacation spots.

Photo by Belle Piccio


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