Defending champion Barangay Granada was the overall winner of the 44th MassKara Festival street dance and arena competition that drew thousands of spectators along Araneta Street and the Paglaum Sports Complex in Bacolod City on Sunday, October 22.
The crowd favorite Granada dancers won P1 million for their fast-paced, lively and seamless performance that drew cheers and loud applause from the audience.
They also went home with P75,000 more for winning the best in headdress, mask and costume, best in music, and best in theme awards. Granada, whose dancers performed at the Philippine Independence Day in New York in June, was also the arena and street dance competition grand champion in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2022.
Granada is headed by Barangay Captain Alfredo Talimodao Jr.
Its choreographers are Joedem Casabuena and Mark Philip Lamidez, while its costume and mask designers are Joenel Buenventura and Christopher John Puerta.
First runner up was Barangay Tangub that won P500,000, and second runner up was Barangay Sum-ag that won P300,000 and P25,000 for best introduction.
Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who described the MassKara performances as world class, also gave P100,000 each to the seven other non-winning participating barangays.
The seven were barangays Cabug, Mansilingan, 32, 21, Vista Alegre, 40 and Handumanan.
The MassKara Festival began in the 1980s as Negros Occidental was reeling from a sugar industry crisis that caused a drop in prices to an all-time low and the sinking of MV Don Juan that took the lives of many Bacolodnons. The festival of smiling masks was held to lift the spirits of Bacolodnons.
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who spoke at Sunday’s arena competition at the Paglaum Sports Complex, said born at a time of famine and tragedy, the MassKara Festival was Bacolod’s way, telling the world that it would make it.
“The wearing of masks painted with happy faces has become the symbol of your determination. Your determination to never let circumstances dictate your response. Your strength to pull through, no matter the odds,” he said.
”Bacolod, when you take off your masks, you are no longer faking it. You have become it. You have become hope, happiness, and thanksgiving,” he said, as he thanked the city for sharing the beauty of the MassKara Festival to the rest of the world.
Also present at the Paglaum was Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya and other city officials.
The three-week MassKara Festival drew thousands of people to its six major venues.*