Vibrant. Colorful. Exciting. These are just some of the words that travelers have used to the annual Maskara Festival in the city of Bacolod in the Philippines. Up to this point in time, I have only read about the Maskara Festival in Bacolod in articles and heard about it from friends that have had the privilege of taking part in this Philippine festival. I’ve resolved this year, I will experience this colorful festival in the Philippines first-hand by taking a trip to the city of Bacolod and witness it. Boy! I can’t wait!
The Philippines’ Mardi Gras
Hailed as the Philippines’ very own Mardi Gras, Bacolod’s Maskara Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines, attracting Filipinos living in different parts of the Philippines and travelers visiting the Philippines.
Bacolod’s Maskara Festival is held during the weekend closest to October 19th—the date of the anniversary of the Charter Inauguration in the city of Bacolod. This year, this vibrant festival in the Philippines will kick off on October 14 with the Electric MaskaraParade held along the Lacson Tourism Strip. It will then be followed by a 2-day street dancing competition to be participated by different schools and organizations in the city.
History of Bacolod’s Maskara Festival
The Maskara Festival started back in 1980 when the city of Bacolod was gripped by tragedy and crisis. Sorrow and grief consumed the residents living in Bacolod at that time. Ironically, the city of Bacolod has been known as the City of Smiles in the Philippines.
Because of this, artists, government officials and civic groups within the city of Bacolod decided to come up with what they called festival of smiles to uplift the spirits of the locals. Ely Santiago came up with the name of this Filipino festival by joining together the word mass (which means “many” or “a multitude of people”) and the Spanish word cara (which means “face”).
Festival of Masks in the Philippines
The festival’s name is also based on the Filipino word maskara, which means mask. It’s no surprising then that the main focus of this Filipino festival is the wide array of vibrant and beautiful masks with wide smiles. Even today, the amount of detail that is seen in every mask used by the participants in this colorful festival in the Philippines is just absolutely astounding. They are a perfect example of Filipino artistry and excellence. And to think the most I’ve seen of these masks are in photos. I can just imagine when I finally get to the city of Bacolod and see these up close. Good thing that they sell masks during the festival. These would make great souvenirs, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on one (or two) to hang on my bedroom wall.
Experience MasKara Festival, Hermosa Festival and Lanzones Festival this October. Airphil Express flies daily to BACOLOD, ZAMBOANGA and CAGAYAN DE ORO from Cebu and Manila. Visit www.airphilexpress.com to book!