is known as the City of Smile, also the capital of the sugar bowl of Philippines, Negros Occidental. It symbolizes progress and business opportunities. Its fast pace towards progress enable them to become one of the most progressive cities in the Philippines. 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.
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. Sugar is exported from different countries which make the province and its people rich and wealthy.
A Brief History of Masskara Festival
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. Seven hundred lives estimated were lost in the tragedy. 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. Later on a Negrense, Ely Santiago, a cartoonist, painter and artist 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.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 held every third week of October. Several activities were lined up during these festivities. Thousands of tourists including the locals from neighboring cities were drawn by this occasion. 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. This 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.
"The Ruins" in Talisay City
"Looking outside from the Ruins main door way"
The Ruins in Talisay City, Negros Occidental is what remained of the grand mansion that Don Mariano Lacson built, following the death of his first wife, Maria Braga.
Built in memory of Maria Braga, the mansion became the residence of Don Mariano and his unmarried children.
Today, it is a tourist attraction for its romantic, yet strong structures. Many interesting tales and facts lie within the walls and posts that remained of the Ruins.
"Balay Negrense" in SIlay City
The Balay Negrense also known as the Victor Gaston Ancestral Home (1898). This hardwood home has the most photogenic exterior of any house in Silay City, Negros Occidental, it is now a museum showcasing the lifestyle of a late 19th-century Negrense sugar baron.
Old tree at Balay Negrense in Silay City, Negros Occidental
Inside architecture of San Diego Pro-Cathedral
The San Diego Pro-cathedral, formerly known as the San Diego Parish Church or the St. Didacus Parish Church before its declaration as a pro-cathedral in 1994, is an early 20th-century church in Silay City, Negros Occidental in the Philippines.
Balay ni Tana Dicang
Balay ni Tana Dicang stands majestically in the heart of Talisay, Negros Occidental. Otherwise known as the bahay na bato it was built in ca. 1883 in a 6,000 square meter property. Owing to the diligence of the descendants of Don Efigenio Lizares and Doña Enrica Alunan, its original structure and authentic and antique furniture, ornaments and accessories, including the China porcelain and indigenous items in the kitchen are well-preserved to this day.
Some antique furniture inside Balay ni Tana Dicang
The present structure was constructed and inaugurated on January 20, 1882. It became a cathedral in 1933 and is one of the century-old churches found in Negros Occidental. During the 100th year anniversary of the cathedral, the centennial bells of San Sebastian Cathedral were brought down from the belfry and mounted on the right side of the church ground. You will also find the Palacio Episcopal, the bishop's palace and the seat of the diocese of the province, inside the grounds.
Colorful Masskara Souvinir
Some of my street dance photos taken during Masskara Festival 2015:
To view more of my latest Masskara Festival photos and some ancestral houses in Negros including Bacolod, Silay and Talisay City, please visit my galleries.
Hope to see you on my next #photoescapade. =)