BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
As everything is set for the launching of the 3-week long MassKara Festival, which will commence with the MassKara Kick-off Salubong on September 30 at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC), its organizers and the Provincial Health Office enjoined everyone to continue using face masks in crowded and enclosed areas.
Festival Director Pinky Ocampo reminded the public we are still in the pandemic, and we encourage everyone to take heed of protocols.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang disclosed that the provincial government of Negros Occidental and the Bacolod City government are jointly implementing mandated health protocols at the Bacolod Silay Airport and various seaports to screen travelers from other areas of the country who will attend the festivities.
Despite the relaxing of travel restrictions to travelers, Tumimbang said he would still advise the public to observe the minimum health protocol, as many other people from other parts of the country are coming into Bacolod City.
Unvaccinated travelers are required to undergo rapid antigen testing upon arrival either at the airport or seaports of the province.
Ocampo said that they have coordinated with the Bacolod City Police Office, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, 303rd Infantry Brigade and other government security agencies to ensure the safety and security of all revelers.
Police Lt. Judesses Catalogo, provincial police spokesperson, disclosed that they will send 322 police personnel to augment the manpower requirements of the Bacolod City Police Office.
Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, also said that they will dispatch Army personnel, including K9 units, to secure the various MassKara festival sites.
To open the festivities, Ocampo said that Bacolod is bringing in music icon Rico Blanco to take center stage during the Kick-off Salubong, along with other surprise guests. Blanco is a multi-awarded singer-songwriter who is also known as one of the founding members of the Filipino rock band Rivermaya.
Rodney Ascalon, stage director of the event, said the show will start at 4 p.m. with lots of entertainment, leading to the midnight countdown and an explosion of fireworks to signal the start of the MassKara Festival. Bacolod Mayor Albee Benitez and the city councilors are expected to join the countdown.
“We will be showcasing the events that will take place in the festival to give the people a preview of what to expect in these competitions,” Ascalon said, adding that they will also be unveiling the installation art of visual artist Charlie Co that has become a festival must-see.
Joining Blanco on stage are local bands and performers, the Toda Kings, electric and street dance participants, the Miss Bacolod MassKara contenders, among others. “Post the countdown, the party will continue with music from our bands and DJs,” Ascalon added.*