Last night was the first time I got to see the Bacolod Public Plaza in its ‘splendour’ for the Masskara Festival (since it stopped raining). The plaza is the most accessible among all the venues where the Masskara fever can be ingested. It’s also where the Masskara dance competition will be high-lighted.

Vendors were everywhere selling novelties, souvenir items, miniature masks, and things from ready-to-wear apparels, to food, food, food!

You can smell the wisp of stewed or grilled corn, the mouth-watering skewers of barbecue (chicken feet, gizzard, and other entrails, anyone?), and the peanuts, pickled pork skin (yes, we got that here- only in the Philippines!), chicharon, and balut and penoy were abound.

The scenario was that of a typical fiesta. Although makeshift urinals were set up, the whole plaza reeked of piss (holy guacamole!) from beer-drinking. Old and young people alike were enjoying the food and the sights and sounds, or simply hanging about drinking with friends, relatives, or classmates and office mates.  Music reigned and some people were dancing.  There was even a crazed woman who danced like she was a burlesque dancer. My nine-year old daughter and I heard someone say she used to be a japayuki who got herself messed up with drugs. Modesty aside, she wore some alluring, flimsy, come-on outfit. She was quite a sight; and every passer-by looked amused-stupefied, even.

Groups of teenagers were abuzz.

Quasi check points at points of entry were manned by men and women in uniform, on guard and visible for ill-meaning persons; and they also checked people for guns and other contraband.  It was okay; to keep the peace-and to somehow let people know they can have a good time without worrying about their security. It has been reported that each year, there’s always a casualty.  Some price to pay for the ultimate merriment, huh?

Nevertheless, it seemed everybody was having a good time.  The festive air can be felt; and just a walking distance away,  the carnival rides, games and other attractions brought satisfaction and smiles to kids and families. The bargain stalls proved to be a good alternative for shoppers. And the loud frenzy of people and music seemed to mark the celebration of a very fun-filled Masskara Festival.


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