All roads lead to Bacolod

It’s been a busy week in Bacolod with guests already coming in droves to participate and witness the MassKara Festival. After two years of missing out on one of the popular festivals in the country due to the pandemic, organizers are bent on making this as the grandest MassKara ever and they expect at least 200,000 visitors during the highlights of the MassKara which is on October 21-23.

For us residents, road closures and rerouting are probably going to give us headaches and cause inconveniences but this festival will spell revenue for the city and the province as well and so, let us put our best foot forward and make our visitors feel welcome with our warm smiles.

Charlie Co and Barry Cervantes explain their concept to me of “Soaring High: The Power of Imagination,” an installation art that will be on exhibit at the fountain area of the BCGC during the 3-week long MassKara Festival*

Early on in the week, I assisted the holding of the press conference of Bacolod Yuhum Foundation, the organizers of the festival, during their MOA signing with the four major sponsors for this year’s MassKara – San Miguel Brewery, SM Prime Holdings, Megaworld and BingoPlus at the Scarborough Restaurant in Pala-Pala.

It was nice to see former media colleagues Harold Geronimo who is now VP and head of PR and Media Affairs of Megaworld and Toks Lopez who is the corporate communications head of San Miguel Bacolod. George Jardiolin who represented SM is no stranger as well and came along with SM PR head, May Castro who is my past president in our Rotary Club of Bacolod Central.

Our enforcers are in full force to ensure safety and order. (L-R) 79th Infantry Brigade commander, Lt. Col. J Jay Javines, my dear classmate and friend, Col. Michael Samson, Coast Guard Cmdr. Joe Loviz Mercurio, Festival Director Pinky Ocampo, Brig Gen.Inocencio Pasaporte, City Police Chief and my kababata, Col. Tommy Martir and PLt Col. David Cachumbo.*

BingoPlus’ President Jasper Vicencio was the new face among those who attended the presscon. Very young and very amiable, this Wowie de Guzman look-alike can also give the real Wowie a run for his looks and dance moves.

Pinky Mirano Ocampo signs the MOA with Megaworld’s Jennifer Fong and BingoPlus President Jasper Vicencio (l-r).*

On to another meeting with the Negros Economic Development Foundation (NEDF) where I am part of the Board of Directors along with my good friends, Lulu Yusay Abelido and Ditas Joson and fellow Rotarians Gard de Erit, Robert Aguillon and Executive Director Rose Depra at Park Inn.

NEDF Chairman Ramon Ponce de Leon, President Wilhelmina Gonzales with Tita Patchit Puentevella, Sir Fred Barcelona were also present among others and their presence ensured serious matters were deliberated, some of which were quite mind-boggling to me but provided clarity as to the direction NEDF wants to make in the future.

Lulu Abelido (left) and I were clearly tuning out the serious stuff to pose for a photo during the NEDF Board meeting at Park Inn Hotel.*

Late in the week, it was already a scramble to find a parking spot at the Bacolod City Government Center with the stalls for the food and trade market being set up. Fortunately, a kind traffic enforcer led me to a spot where I can double park but easily within reach to move when I have to.

I was there to interview Charlie Co and the other artists that collaborated in the installation art at the fountain area in the government center. It is always interesting to talk to Charlie because he rambles with excitement when he explains his vision.

San Miguel Brewery has always been a major partner of the MassKara Festival for years now. (L-R) SMB’s John Coscolluela, Toks Lopez and Jeremy Losbanes with Ocampo during the MOA signing.*

It was a sight to behold how the men, including artist, Neil Benavente, braving the greenish fountain water to install the six flying men while Charlie directing where the figures should be facing. I do hope they get to light it in time for the big reveal during the Salubong tonight.

It will definitely be an obstacle course near the government center, the public plaza and other areas where stages are being set up. But fortunately, we have the city police, the provincial police, the traffic enforcers and even the military in full force to ensure safety and order.

Keep safe everyone and Happy MassKara!*

Megaworld’s Harold Geronimo and Jennifer Fong with Pinky Mirano Ocampo.*

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