BACOLOD City – As further validation of its world-class appeal, the MassKara Festival dancers of Bacolod City, representing the Philippines, bagged the bronze medal at the World Mask Dance Competition 2018 on Oct 7 in South Korea.
The international competition, participated in by mask-based festivals from 13 countries, was one of the highlights of the Andong Mask Dance Festival in Andong City, South Korea, which ran from Sept. 28 to Oct. 7.
“This is great news! This enhances further the attraction and image of our very own MassKara Festival. We personally saw them in action in Andong and we knew that our talented and dedicated dancers will capture the hearts and admiration of so many. We are truly proud of our MassKara Festival,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia exclaimed.
The mayor and Councilor Em Ang, chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Tourism, accompanied the 10 MassKara dancers to South Korea as the official delegation from Bacolod that was invited by the International Mask Arts and Culture Organization (IMACO).
However, the two city officials went back to Bacolod a few days ahead of the final competition because of prior commitments.
Leonardia pointed out that the timing couldn’t be better as this international victory comes exactly as we open this year’s festival.
The contingent is composed of 10 dancers from Barangay Tangub, choreographed by Segundo Jesus “Panoy” Cabalcar, the winngest choreogrqpher in the history of MassKara Festival. Cabalcar also conceptualized their performance, and designed their costume.
The MassKara Festival itself, now on its 39th year, officially opens today [Oct. 8] and will run until Oct. 28.
The Tangub MassKara dancers are Jesus Surell, Airick Bayking, Jestoni Valor, Jerick Urbina, John Rey Tobongbanua, Marlon Imperial, Alvin Cardiente, Alanel Cordero, Eduardo Cautibar Jr., and Argie Tacadao.
They competed against performers of mask-based festivals from 12 countries like Russia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Israel, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
The dancers had to perform at most three times per day from Sept. 29 to Oct 7, except for Oct. 2, their rest day, or a total of 8 days.
On Oct. 6, organizers announced the Top 7 out of 13 countries to advance to the finals on Oct. 7. On grand finals day, each country had to perform three dances for five minutes each.
For their group message, the MassKara dancers said, “It is an honor to represent the Philippines and Bacolod internationally. Indeed, the MassKara is a world-class and world-renowned festival.”
They thanked Leonardia, Ang, and Israel Salanga for making their trip possible, as well as the Filipino community in Andong City.
Meanwhile, there was a separate category, called Domestic Mask Dance Competition, for mask-based festivals in South Korea.
IMACO is a group of international festivals that use masks, with 131 individual and group organizations from 56 countries.
It is based in Andong City (South Korea), a sister city of Bacolod. The sisterhood agreement was forged in September 2008, when Leonardia was on his third term as mayor of Bacolod.
IMACO president Kweon Young-Sae, who is also the current mayor of Andong City, said, “Andong Mask Dance Festival is a cultural icon for the Andong region, celebrating the traditions of Korean and international mask dancing.”