I have been observing the Masskara festival since the early 1990s. I say observing coz I never participated in the events, I look forward to the eating, drinking and socializing. It’s be Sem Break so the students would be back. Negrenses take time out to bring over and entertain non-Negrense friends and make sure they have a good time.
I recall only once did I watch the street dancing in the heat. I had to park far then walked to the street dancing area. Luckily I’m tall so I can see no problem. Others had to stand atop their pickups to get a good view. During that time, the only mask one could buy was that of the Power Rangers. Your choices were red, yellow or green. Seeing the street dancing once is enough. Listening to “La Bamba” about 20 times as each baranggay danced to the same tune, was enough to make me say, “No mas, no mas! Yo no soy marinero, soy Capitan, soy Capitan!”
Oftentimes I would just hang out along Lacson St., have some dinner, drinks, walk the strip and say hi to friends hanging out in other Lacson St restos., have more drinks. As the night wore on, the merriment became rowdier. Drinking 8 San Mig Lights a night was the norm.
About ten years ago, someone had the bright idea of closing Lacson St starting 4pm til the wee hours of the morning. Negrenses loved the idea of walking along Lacson sans vehicular traffic. Then someone decided to have an Electrical Parade at night that added to the festivities. Frankly, I found the Electrical Parade overrated but I’m sure as the years go by, the creativity of the Negrense would improve the design of the participating electrical floats.
Two years ago, it was still fun to walk along Lacson St. It was tight in some areas where there were stages then a bit of open space in between. I missed last year’s and this year’s Masskara. For this year, I heard part of the Masskara venue near Bacolod Town Plaza was transferred to Lacson. Hence, Lacson St became one big can of sardines. Stall owners were cooking inasal on both sides of the street making the venue hotter and smellier. The four-lane road became two-lanes as more kiosks occupied the outer lanes. If it’s tight, thieves will have a heyday. One of my friends was pickpocketed but that is no surprise anymore. Every time there is a Masskara, Atiatihan, Sinulog or Dinagyang, thieves from all over the country congregate and prey on the unsuspecting.
So is Masskara worth going to? If one is a Masskara first-timer, photographer, eater or drinker, it’s an overwhelming YES! But after that, it becomes a case of “been there, done that.” If one has friends who can entertain them by all means go again. Negros and Bacolod are more than just Masskara. There are many restaurants to try and places to visit. I can proudly say Negros is definitely a good example of…”It’s More Fun In The Philippines!”