October festivals: The Philippines’ MassKara Festival

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By Karen Hart

Find out about a Filipino masked fiesta and make a classroom display about happiness.


The word ‘Masskara’ is a fusion of the English word ‘mass’ and ‘cara’, the Spanish word for face. It perfectly describes this radiant Filipino fiesta in which Bacolod’s 450,000 residents take to the streets wearing big, brightly coloured smiley masks. The festival, which dates back to the early 1980s, officially marks the anniversary of the completion of the city’s charter, but is commonly thought of as a way to celebrate Bacalod’s nickname: ‘the city of smiles’.

Masks worn during Masskara represent all creatures under the sun and sea – starfish, butterflies, birds and bugs, even vegetable men; all topped off with plenty of feathers, beads and bows. There’s also a beauty pageant, street dance competitions, music concerts, lots of street food, plus many more ad-hoc events added each year. This really is a festival all about celebrating the good things in life – and just having a really great time!

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