Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's Behind the MassKara?

I don't usually post about work but the other week, the hospital where I work launched the December holiday festivities. The launching featured a show of streetdancing competition by the three services namely, Administrative, Medical and Nursing. Well, in support of the nursing team, a social obligation, that is, I had to learn a few simple, easy-to-follow steps that required a show of masks both at the start and end of the performance. That's because the theme assigned to us was MassKara Festival (special thanks to Jepoy and the PHC Nursing Service Dancers for patiently teaching us the steps!).

The masks we wore during the performance
I confess that all the time I joined the practice, I had questions in my mind about the MassKara Festival. I am a Negrense, yes, but call it ignorance if I never came to know the history of this festival. I was afraid that it was cultic in nature. On the day of the presentation, I wasn't able to contain my suspicion that I mentioned it to a friend who shared with me in brief the result of her search the following day. Intrigued, I searched some more and here are what I learned about the the festival.
  1. Coined by the artist Ely Santiago, "MassKara" is a portmanteau (blend of two or more words or sounds and meanings to become one new word) of mass (crowd or mass of people) and cara (Spanish word for face), thereby forming MassKara (a multitude of faces).
  2. The 20-day festival was first held in 1980 as a way of uplifting the spirits of the Negrenses after Bacolod (the country's sugar capital city) suffered a major economic crisis resulting from the downfall of the sugar industry in Negros. 
  3. The smiling mask, symbol of the festival, was used by the people of Bacolod to showcase the jovial spirit of the Negrenses amid the dead season in the sugar industry. The festival also reflected the Negrenses' grief over lost lives after MS Don Juan, a popular luxury liner, collided with a tanker.
  4. The MassKara Festival has sincethen dramatized the steadfast character of the people of Negros, symbolizing their ability of putting on a happy face when confronted with challenges. 
  5. Characterized by merrymaking and streetdancing, with people clad in elegant and colorful costumes and headgear, this festival has become one of the country's popular tourist attractions every month of October, that has generated revenues as it has drawn not only local but also foreign visitors to the province.
Such is the MassKara Festival celebration in the City of Smiles (Bacolod City)! Click here for more about the festival.

By the way, the masks have also evolved from native Filipino masks to modern ones such as those used in the Carnival of Venice, a tradition popularly known for its distinctive masks. Hmmm... that seems to remind me of something ---beautiful photos of Venetian masks displayed in a store at Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.

Here they are--- photos taken by Billy, my husband, during his trip to Italy.

 And masks displayed in a store at Bali Collection in Indonesia

What's behind the massKara, you may ask? 

Well, wearing a big smile could mean a lot different possibilities!  For nurses, pangs of hunger may lie beneath the warm welcome to a newly admitted patient or a bladder that could not be emptied due to a whole line up of medications that need to be administered on time. Other nurses do manage to put on a smile despite piles of doctors' orders to be carried out. They feel they might fall behind the voluminous tasks if they leave the station to take lunch or use the restroom. Yes, nurses are good at smiling despite difficulties. So the next time you see a smiling nurse, think twice! Could it be a smile borne out of adversity? or of triumph and victory? I dare you make a wild guess!

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