The main streets of Bacolod are usually full of life and energy on the fourth Sunday of October as its people, along with thousands of visitors from across the world, celebrate the highlights of the MassKara Festival.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic changed all that. This year, the public plaza, considered as the hub of the much-anticipated street dance competition, only had a few people sitting on benches and roaming around to while away a quiet Sunday afternoon.
“Covid-19 has changed everything for us. This is the day that MassKara should have been celebrated with the highlights. Can you imagine for 40 straight years we had the MassKara and it is only now that the festival has been suspended,” a wistful Mayor Evelio Leonardia said in a radio interview.
Last Sept. 21, Leonardia issued Executive Order 62 suspending this year’s festival’s public celebration and all related revelries or activities to comply with the health and safety protocols in stemming the local spread of infections.
As the city continues to fight the virus, Bacolodnons have found ways to continue the revelry on MassKara’s 41st year virtually.
On Sunday afternoon, a celebration dubbed “Bato’, Bacolod, bato’!” (Fight on, Bacolod, fight on!), featuring the festival’s champion performances, was aired on SkyCable Channel 53.
“I talked to Eli Tajanlangit of the (Silver MassKara Festival Organization). I requested them to show the highlights of the previous MassKara festivals,” Leonardia said.
On social media, some festival-related events also went viral in the past weeks.
A competition called “MassKara Pet Fashion Show 2020” was participated by the city’s cutest dogs dressed up along with their fur parents in colorful MassKara ensembles.
Shared by thousands of netizens, a medley dance video of the Artians Cheerdance Squad has also brought on the festival vibes as they performed along the iconic songs associated with the MassKara in the past four decades.
Through the Masskara Medley 2020 Project, the dancers sent a message of hope from Bacolod, also known as the City of Smiles.
“(The year) 2020 has been a roller coaster of emotions, but there is still hope…We may be putting on a different mask for MassKara season this year, but just like how the festival was born during a time of crisis, we are reminded that there are still endless reasons to smile,” their post on their official Facebook page said.
Indeed, as President Rodrigo Duterte himself has said: “The festival tells an inspiring story of the Filipinos’ resilience.”
“It is proof that despite the many struggles we face, we can overcome any adversity through cooperation and perseverance,” said the President, who has witnessed the MassKara Festival three times since he was elected to Malacañang in 2016.
In December 2018, Duterte signed Republic Act 11146 which declares June 18, 1938 as the Charter Day Bacolod, and also provides that the highlights of the MassKara Festival will be held on the fourth Sunday of October.
Source: Philippines News agency