The Piaya Chronicles: The Marvelous Masks of the Masskara Festival

The Masskara Festival became the main reason of our Bacolod City visit after our half marathon event got postponed, and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse on why this event is so popular for both local and foreign tourists.  With what I witnessed, I was truly impressed!

This is part of a series

After our Ancestral Houses tour of Silay City we headed straight for Bacolod City to check-in in our hotel and catch the afternoon parade of the Masskara Festival.  As far as transportation is concerned, Negros has a very efficient transportation system.  From the main road (Rizal/Lacson St.) you can easily move around via tricycles, jeepneys, and buses.  Taxis are available but isn’t that easy to find.  Fares are very cheap, even cheaper than in Metro Manila.  From Silay City to Bacolod City, the fastest and cheapest way is of course with a bus.

You know you’re in Bacolod when your hotel has huge masks on its lobby 🙂

After checking in, we rushed to Araneta Ave. to see the parade, and thankfully we got to a nice spot just in time as the parade was approaching.

Warming up the parade are beauty queens 😀
Which is perfectly fine 🙂
Even the vehicles they are on are lookers
Start of the parade
Not yet the main Masskara event (obviously)
Look at the details, nice
Up close of one of the huge puppets
Imagine how difficult it is to make these puppets dance
Another puppet

I was just so amazed by all these performers!  They walk and dance for kilometers all the while wearing costumes that appear to be hot while also wearing masks that are usually heavy!  I run and even do ultramarathons and I don’t wear costume doing such and I know how grumpy I get after so I was surprised how nice and accommodating they still were after the parade!  Spectators often pull them from the parade (yes, literally!) to have pictures taken with them but they’re always game and have energy to pose.  They are just some of the most accommodating people I’ve ever seen!

Here it is, the main event!
Imagine how difficult it is to walk with these masks
Of course sometimes they have to be readjusted
And sometimes fatigue do set in (imagine dancing in their costumes for kilometers)

There were so much more performers and all sorts of masks that we saw that day, this is just a very small sample.  I’ll keep the pictures for myself so I may encourage you to come see them with your own eyes. 😀

We were too exhausted from standing under the sun all throughout the parade (and I call myself an ultrarunner) so we settled to watching their performances from our cozy air conditioned room 😀

But wait, there’s more!  After reaching the city center (Bacolod Public Plaza) on where we thought the parade ends, it’s just the start for these participants.  Bacolod Public Plaza is where the participants perform their piece before huge audiences, broadcasted simultaneously all throughout Negros and possibly the nearby Visayan region.  I can’t imagine dancing after already doing kilometers of walk and dance!  After seeing how these amazing performers do all of these and still put on a big smile, I said to myself that I have no right to be grumpy after doing an ultra!

For some reason that I do not know, there are so many balloon vendors in Bacolod City

Masskara Festival is a wonderful spectacle that I highly recommend everyone to visit and watch.  Beyond the elaborate and intricate masks, the drum beats, the world-class performances, and the huge flocks of tourists, it’s the people you meet on the street that makes it more interesting.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, they are just some of the most accommodating people I’ve met—hospitable, always willing to help despite the language barrier, and always with a smile.  We’ve only seen Bacolod City hardly a day through the Masskara Festival yet we’ve already proven why the city is called the City of Smiles.


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The Piaya Chronicles:

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