MANILA, Oct 24 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos on Sunday lauded Bacolod City for its successful staging of the 43rd MassKara Festival and welcomed local government efforts to improve the lives of its constituents.

OFFICIAL BUSINESS. On the sidelines of his Bacolod City visit to attend the closing of the MassKara Festival and the unveiling of a township marker, President Ferdinand R. Marcos (left) holds a situational briefing with different agencies on Sunday (Oct. 23, 2022). Marcos met with officials of the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development in Western Visayas. (MNS photo)

In a speech during the festival’s culmination at Paglaum Sports Complex, Marcos said it was high time that the city welcomed local and foreign tourists anew to help in the revival of the economy.

“Pagkatapos ng dalawang taon, may pagkakataon uli tayo na buksan ang ating mga pintuan sa lahat ng mga bisita na nanggaling kung saan-saan, hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kung hindi sa iba’t-ibang bansa para sila naman ay makita nila at mapamahal na rin sila sa Bacolod City at saka lahat ng taga-Bacolod (After two years, we now have the opportunity to open our doors to visitors coming from everywhere, not just from the Philippines, but from other countries, so that they can see and love Bacolod City and the people of Bacolod),” he said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (MNS photo)

Marcos said Bacolod lived up to its moniker “City of Smiles” with the celebration after a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.

“Ang pagbabalik ng MassKara Festival ngayon ay nanggaling sa kahirapan at kalungkutan ngunit makikita na natin na iniwan na natin ang kahirapan at kalungkutan at pinakita na ng taga-Bacolod na tayo ay bumalik na at masaya na naman ulit at bumalik sa ating mga labi ang ating mga ngiti (The return of the MassKara Festival today came from difficulties and sadness but we can now see that we have left difficulties and sadness behind and the people of Bacolod have shown that we are back and happy again and our smiles are back),” he said.

He described Bacolod City as the blueprint for the entire country’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Ang mga taga-Bacolod ay magiging halimbawa para sa buong Pilipinas. Pag alis ko dito sasabihin ko sa lahat kung kaya nilang gawin ang MassKara Festival sa Bacolod, dapat tayong lahat din ay ganyan din na bumangon na tayo dahil ang aking pangako sa inyo ay tuloy-tuloy ang ating pagbangon (The people of Bacolod can serve as an example for the entire Philippines. When I leave, I will tell everyone that if Bacolod can hold its MassKara Festival, we should also be able to recover because my promise is that we will continue to recover),” he added.

Marcos expressed hope that Bacolod City would continue pushing for programs and projects that  will redound to the betterment of the country and people.

“Inaasahan natin na ang city government ay itutuloy ang kanilang mga programa at proyekto para mapaganda ang patakbo ng ating kabuhayan hindi lamang sa Bacolod kung hindi sa buong Pilipinas (We hope that the city government will continue their programs and projects to improve the economy not only in Bacolod but in the entire Philippines),” he added.

Marcos commended the Bacolod Comprehensive Health Program, which grants easy access to hospitalization services and free annual consultations with complementary medicines.

He also hailed the launch of the city’s Social Pension Fund for Senior Citizens.

“Itong mga ganitong klaseng initiative na inuuna ang kabuhayan ng ating mga mamamayan ay nakakatiyak tayo na ang ating lipunan kung gagawin lang natin nito, ang ating lipunan ay magiging napakaganda (With these kinds of initiatives that prioritize the well-being of our people, I am certain that we can improve our society all the more),” he said.

Before the culmination of the MassKara Festival, Marcos witnessed the inauguration of The Upper East, a 34-hectare township and industrial estate development, and the unveiling of the township marker.

On the sidelines of his Bacolod visit, Marcos held a situational briefing with officials of the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development of Western Visayas to discuss ways of synergizing efforts to address the pressing concerns of the region.

The MassKara Festival, celebrated every October, was born out of a crisis in the 1980s when the price of sugar, Bacolod’s main commodity, plummeted.

It was during that time that artists thought of promoting mask-making as an alternative source of income for the locals.

The later Mayor Jose “Digoy” Montalvo Jr., acknowledged as the Father of the MassKara, suggested holding a mask festival to lift the spirits of the locals following the April 1980 sinking of the Negros Navigation ship M/V Don Juan, which killed his killed his wife, two daughters aged 17 and 7, mother-in-law, and hundreds of residents. (MNS)