Masskara Festival Bacolod

Masskara Festival History

Bacolod, a home of Masskara Festival is a living proof of ups and downs way back then. The Masskara Festival which symbolizes hope is a tool of escapism during dark and dire times. In this post I would like to share a brief history of how the festival gave hope to all Bacolodnons.

Brief History of MassKara Festival


Bacolod City is the capital of Negros Occidental. Bacolod symbolizes progress and business opportunities. Its fast pace towards progress enable them to become one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines.

When immigrants from the neighboring island like Iloilo came here for business ventures, the province of Negros propelled its economic growth. Prominent families started to cultivate sugar and became the province main source of income.

The sudden growth of income means more business opportunities and jobs. More and more immigrants most especially “sakada” came here to plant and harvest sugar cane.

Haciendas and villages sprout like mushroom that makes landlords and sugar barons. Sugar industry by that time is at its peak. The province and the people became rich and wealthy because of sugar exported to different countries.

MS Don Juan

Ms Don Juan Bacolod
Photo: picssr

It was in 1979 when the luxury liner of Negros Navigation MS Don Juan crashed with a tanker. It carries hundreds of passengers including some prominent people. During the tragedy, seven hundred lives estimated were lost.

Five years after, a big drop in sugar production happened. Caribbean sugar crisis and the introduction of sugar substitute like High Fructose Corn Syrup in the United States added additional factor for sugar crisis in Negros.

Negrense suffered from obscure situation. Everybody is in grief as if the world crumbles and turn back to them.

The Making of MassKara Festival


Later on a Negrense cartoonist, painter and artist Ely Santiago together with some government official, civic groups and prominent people molded the first Masskara Festival.

The word Masskara came from “mass” means crowd and Spanish word “cara” for faces meaning “many faces.”

It was on 1980 when the firs Masskara Festival took place. The original plan of Santiago was to hold an annual parade using mask to capture the crisis in Negros.

It was change by the local elite into a street dancing and merry-making. Twenty days of merry-making, street party, street dancing, beer drinking, fluvial parade and garden shows were being practice hitherto.

Masskara Festival Bacolod
Colorful and elaborate smiling mask

A smiling masks which symbolizes hope and to conceive grief of every Negrense is a way to show the happy spirit of Negrense despite experiencing hard times in the sugar industry.

The festival is a month-long celebration celebrated every third week of October annually. During the festival several activities were lined up.

Grand parade and street dance were only few of the most awaited activities during Masskara. Dancers clad in an elaborate costumes and colorful painted mask vying for the prizes.

Last year during the highlights of the event is also the opening of the biggest convention center not only in Bacolod but also in Southeast Asia.

What to Expect in MassKara Festival


Bacolod Chicken Inasal

Aside from colorful costumes, elegant and detailed smiling mask.

Street parties is one of the most anticipated event during the festival.

Don’talso forget to indulge in the famous chicken inasal.

You can find it anywhere here in Bacolod.


Masskara Festival is considered as one of the most colorful festival in the Philippines. Thousand of tourists and locals flock to the city of Bacolod to witness this kind of merry-making. Thus,it is also considered as the “City of Smiles”.

Masskara Festival 2018 Schedule of Activities HERE

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