By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – MassKara Festival is not just only for Bacolodnons, as Negrenses also got to experience the grand celebration of the City of Smiles, during the first-ever “MassKara sa Panaad.”
This materialized after the city government here invited the provincial government to join the celebration of the 43rd MassKara Festival this year.
The province has been annually celebrating the Panaad Festival, but just like the MassKara Festival, it was also suspended for two years because of the pandemic.
Festival dancers of different local government units (LGUs) in the province, clad in their most colorful costumes danced the MassKara Festival’s official soundtrack titled “Balik Yuhum” to mark the official start of the “MassKara sa Panaad” on Oct. 10.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the “MassKara sa Panaad” is a groundbreaking event since it is the first time that the province was invited to join in the said festivity.
“We are just happy to be a part of the biggest and most awaited MassKara Festival,” Lacson said.
Lacson said that this creates an opportunity for the MassKara tourists to experience a glimpse of the land of the sweet surprises, its culture, local products, festivals, travel destinations, and the Negrense cuisine.
This is because visitors will not have to travel far since these are all displayed and showcased at the 31 pavilions of various LGUs at the Panaad Park.
He thanked the local chief executives for their support and cooperation in the event.
Lacson said that MassKara Festival is more than just a festivity, “it is a story of hope, resilience, and ingenuity.”
As the pandemic forced upon us the use of masks, this year, we again as people are going to don MassKaras with the same grit,” the governor added.
After two years of uncertainty, the province and the city are united, as they move forward towards recovery, Lacson said.
For his part, Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez thanked the provincial government for accepting the city’s invitation to be part of the festival.
Benitez said that it is a clear indication that Bacolod and Negros Occidental are now collaborating with each other for the betterment of all the Negrenses.
In fact, Benitez said that Councilor Jason Villarosa, chairman of the Committee on Tourism, proposed to create an ordinance inviting the province to the MassKara Festival every year.
“It is an indication that we are now as one, because Panaad is at the heart of Bacolod, it is but proper that Panaad is part of the celebration,” Benitez said.
Meanwhile, Negros Association of Chief Executives (ACE) president and Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez said that with the unity between the province and the city, possibilities are endless.
“It will bring not only cooperation of culture and tourism, but definitely economic opportunities, since tourists need not go to the whole province to avail of their products,” he added.
He said they are exploring ways other opportunities that could still be done at Panaad, including the proposal to regularly open the venue for visitors.
“We want something more to be regular. It could be a theme park or a water park. Everyone is on board, we’re just finalizing things,” he said.
The “MassKara sa Panaad” concluded on Oct. 16, with a tourism and cultural show from the sixth district of the province.