By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Bacolod City mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez expressed surprise when asked why the MassKara sa Panaad, which was one of the highlights of last year’s MassKara Festival, was not included in the 2023 edition.
“Nakita ko lang sa news nga indi madayon ang MassKara sa Panaad,” Benitez said in a press conference held at the MassKara Hall of the Bacolod Government Center Tuesday.
MassKara sa Panaad was one of the highlights of the MassKara Festival last year. It is a collaboration between the city government, Bacolod Yuhum Foundation Inc. (BYFI), and the provincial government, and participated by all local government units that spruced up their respective booths for a weeklong festivity.
Benitez explained, though, that he has given BYFI the flexibility to manage the festival.
“I think there is a valid reason for it, maybe they want to reduce the number of festival sites as there are insufficient sites in the city,” he pointed out.
When asked if he would want to hold the MassKara sa Panaad this year, Benitez answered in the affirmative saying “I was expecting it this year, nami man to last year kay part ang provincial government sang MassKara identity.”
“I am okay with it, but I think they feel nga tam-an na kadamo ang sites and the investors, especially in the city selling food will be affected,” he added.
Earlier, Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that there will be no MassKara sa Panaad this year as part of the MassKara festival.
Lacson said the provincial government will have no participation in the MassKara Festival this year as there was no formal request from the organizers.
He further said, “Maybe it’s because the festival was so spread out last year… so maybe without Panaad the activity areas will be more compressed.”
Benitez also said that this MassKara Festival is not necessarily “toned down” but the organizers only limited crowd-drawing activities.
He said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and First Lady Lisa Araneta-Marcos were again invited to attend the Festival this year, but there is no confirmation yet.
The MassKara Festival will unfurl on October 1-22, 2023.