Thursday, November 12, 2015

Masks

Our city, Bacolod City, is known as the City of Smiles. But behind these smiles are a couple of tragedies. To hide the pain brought by the tragic events, the city decided to change the dark atmosphere into a cheerful one, thus the birth of MassKara Festival. 
The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low due to the introduction of sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup in the United States . It was also a time of tragedy; on April 22 of that year, the inter-island vessel Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City , collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank. An estimated 700 lives were lost in the tragedy. more here
masskara

The festival is held every October and it is one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines. The smiling masks the participants wear are enough to brighten your day. It is such a crazy spectacle, the music, the choreography, the crowd. Even the spectators can’t help but to move their hips.

mask 14mask 05mask 12mask 07

I went home last October to renew my passport as per my company’s instruction. What a perfect timing. While waiting for my passport to be processed, I got the chance to go back to my hometown. It was all fun until my toe was swollen. It was painful to walk but I still manage to go to the city and join the celebration. I just stayed in one corner though to protect my toe from the crowd. That would also mean less photos.

 mask 01mask 02

Colorful Smile 

I bought a colorful smile 
 for a peso or two 
when the mermaids invited 
 the mortals to be part of their choir 

 I bought a colorful smile 
for a peso or two 
when the sugarcane juiced out 
salt crystals

I bought a colorful smile 
for a peso or two 
when the sky flooded
 the town black 

 I bought a colorful smile 
for a peso or two 
to hide 
 a colorless soul

/totomai

candymask 13

The highlight of the festival is the Street Dance Competition. There were three categories before – school, barangay and open. But for the past few years, only the school and barangay categories remain. Still, the participants continue to give an amazing show.

mask 04colorsmask 12

I hope all of you will have the chance to witness this extravaganza. You will definitely enjoy our city, from the people to the food to the festivities.

fuschia

Fingers-crossed that I can go back next year. Here's a video from the festival.

/totomai 
2015/11/12 

 Photos taken with Nikon D7000, 
      lenses used : Nikkor 18-300mm 3.5f

40 comments:

  1. Fabulous pictures... But the last stanza of your poem hits hard. Good stuff.

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  2. I must echo the praise for your photography it is always brilliant. But along with the colorful shots is the sad history where everyone puts on a happy face to mask the past sadness.

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    1. Thanks Robin, I just recently knew the story of our festival. Behind the colors and smiles are bruises and tears

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  3. Good to have you back Totomai - and in fine form - not a newbie at all! I love the photographs of course but the opening lines of the poem are as captivating and in some ways as overwhelming as those masks and colours..i am glad you had to come back to renew your passport (it must be well travelled!)

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    1. Thanks Jae. My company has no choice but to send me back home to process my passport.

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  4. Oh the last stanza brought it home for me.. The happy masks can hide the tears.. It sounds like bread and circuses (without the bread). Wonderful pictures as usual :-)

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    1. Thanks Bjorn - masks are facade for pains and sufferings

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  5. this is an interesting background to such a colorful festival.
    and your poem brings out the sadness behind the smiles on the masks, especially the first stanza.
    oh, i must say, stunning photography, as usual. :)

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    1. Thanks Dsnake. it was in thr 80's when our city kept on mourning.

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  6. What a beautiful set of photos, Totomai. A smile for a peso or two sounds like a good deal. Smiles.And your poem expresses the idea that there could be so many different sets of meanings behind each mask. Oh, if only the U.S. did not turn to that high fructose corn syrup. I avoid products that have this cheap substitute in as much as I can & use those that contain sugar! So nice to see you back in the Pantry again!

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    1. It's been a while, Mary. Lots of work lately. Thanks again for the warm welcome :)

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  7. How wonderful totomai that you were able to visit your home again and in time for this beautiful sight....wow those costumes are stunning and your images are such a splash of color like rainbows...who couldn't help but smile. I love how your description of this festival are echoed in your poem....this is how we survive the dark times....make them bright and celebrate.

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    1. A perfect timing Donna. It was like hitting two birds in one stone.

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  8. Such beautiful pictures coupled with a powerful & thought provoking poem :)

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  9. " I bought a colorful smile
    for a peso or two
    to hide
    a colorless soul"

    luv how you ended your poem

    what lovely photos and a splendid video, your Masskara looks very much like our Carnival here in Trinidad and Tobago

    have a very nice Sunday

    much love...

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    1. would love to see your carnival too Gillena

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  10. Nothing colorless about the artist who took these photos and filmed this glorious video. Thanks so much for brightening my morning with the color and beauty of this post, my friend. What a treat! How wonderful that you were able to return for that.

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    1. Thanks Sherry. It was just a secondary activity but it was at the same time I renew my passport. :)

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  11. Great, colorful pictures and a wonderful poem.
    Thanks for sharing about this gorgeous festival.

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  12. Ah, what a colorful and full od meaning festival! I like your words and so poignant contrast between colorful mask and soul lost the shades....hope, it will heal through time....thanks for sharing!

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    1. life's full of contrast. it surprises us always, humbird.

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  13. What a colorful & meaningful festival ~ the smiling masks are a great metaphor for covering up how one really feels inside.

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  14. Beautiful photos and wonderful verses that capture so much of the meaning behind the festival. Glad that you could go back and take part in it. The photos are incredible, as usual,

    Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth, haven't been a participant of the dance though lol

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  15. for a peso or two
    to hide
    a colorless soul

    Nothing colorless in the desire to admire a smile. But the accompanying pics are certainly full of colors for admiration.

    Hank

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    1. Our world needs lots of smiles, Hank. Thanks.

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  16. Amazing images! Thank you for sharing this celebration of culture.

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  17. Whew! What a history to this festival. I thought your poem might stay on the surface of it--which is amazing enough--but that last line is a zinger.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Susan :)

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  18. I love the idea of a human being able to share celebration with mermaids. And you photographs of a celebration of smiles consciously aimed at darkness are beautiful and imspiring.

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  19. Your posts are such a treat! What a colorful life you live. Your last stanza is very haunting ... and really so true of large festivals and celebrations. They do, at least for me, have an element of "forced" gaiety to them. If one is feeling low: the garnish noise and hub-bub on the outside, contrasts with - and further accentuates - those feelings. (Had a bit of trouble, Sunday, getting this to post … so fingers crossed, this time.)

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    1. Thanks Wendy. a temporary escape from the problems of our city.

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any thoughts to distill?

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