Bacolod Masskara Festival

The Bacolod Masskara Festival or Pista ng MassKara is local fiesta originated from Bacolod from a livelihood crisis and ferry tragedy happened during the 80’s. The feast is held annually every fourth Sunday of October.

The term “Masskara” is a portmanteau or a combination of words with two meanings, it was coined by the late artist Ely Santiago from mass (a multitude of people), and the Spanish word cara (face), thus forming MassKara (a multitude of faces). The word is also a pun on maskara, Filipino for “mask” (itself from Spanish máscara), literally translates to “many faces,” Bacolod known for fun-loving people translate the feast with the smiling faces of the mask, hence, it got the nickname of The City of Smiles.

Bacolod Masskara Festival
Participants in the MassKara festival in Bacolod Philippines.
Photo by: @kobbydagan (Instagram)

This annual mask motif  festival, went to change influenced from native Filipino design to adaptation of design similar to influences from Rio Carnival and Carnival of Venice. Most of the materials used that still exist with modern contemporary design includes: hand-painted and adorned with feathers, flowers and native beads, plastic beads, sequins, and various recycled materials.

The MassKara Festival can trace its roots back in the 1980s and was born out of a crisis. It was during the time when the province’s main livelihood, sugar, was priced at an all-time low because of alternatives introduced in the market. It was also the time when a tragic ferry accident happened, which carried mostly people from the province including those from prominent families of Bacolod.

To lift the spirits of the locals and bring back the smiles on their faces, the MassKara Festival was created. The smiling masks were a declaration of the people of Bacolod City that they will pull through and survive the challenges and tragedies that they are facing.

The MassKara Festival made its way from being a source of happiness after tragedies to one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines.” (Muzones.G)

The highlight of the festival features is the street dance competition parading with lavish and colourful costumes to the rhythm of booming drums and chants.


Muzones, G. Guide to the Philippines. Accessed on May 16, 2020.


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