One of the happiest festival in the country, it rose from the gloom that enveloped the city in 1980s, a period of tragedy and economic dislocation.
During this period, the prices of sugar in the world market were at an all-time low. Negrenses, including Bacolenos, were in a crisis as the province only relied in the sugar industry then.
The depression was further aggravated when passenger vessel Don Juan sank on April 22, where an estimated 700 Negrenses, including prominent families, perished.
In the midst of these tragic events, the city’s artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles.
They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.
This act of collectively fighting back at life’s troubles is embodied in the MassKara Streetdancing lyrics: Sige lang… sige na! Bacolod bato kita! (It’s okay… it’s alright! No matter what adversity, Bacolod fights on!)
MassKara is coined from two words: Mass, which means “many, or multitude,” and Kara, a Spanish word for “face,” thus MassKara is a mass or multitude of smiling faces.
For Bacolenos, MassKara is a celebration and expression of thanks for the abundance of blessings life brings them.