WATCH: Bacolod artist unmasks Masskara making tradition
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - December 11, 2019 - 2:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — "Smile though your heart is aching... Smile even though it's breaking... When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by."

Those lyrics resonate not only from Nat King Cole's famous song "Smile" but also from the many grinning faces of Bacolod's famous Masskara masks.

The masks and their namesake Masskara Festival reportedly began in the '80s to cheer up Bacolod City citizens who were then facing a sugarcane crisis when Negros' sugar industry was threatened by the country's importation of lower-cost sweeteners from the US.

During a recent tour in Bacolod courtesy of AirAsia, a local Masskara artist, Jojo Vito, shared the ins and outs of his Masskara making business in Bacolod.

Located in the northwestern part of the Negros island, the coastal community once sprawled with sugarcane plantations, thus earning its title, “The Sugarbowl of the Philippines."

Today, Bacolod is an urbanized city known for its food, heritage sites, ancestral homes and annual Masskara Festival, held on the fourth Sunday of October. During this celebration, the city’s streets are filled with groups of festive dancers wearing ornate smiling masks. This eventually gave rise to its more popular nickname, the “City of Smiles."

Related video: Check out Bacolod's sights, food and 'The Ruins'

AirAsia flies thrice daily from Manila to Bacolod, the airline company's 11th domestic destination from Manila.

During the inaugural flight, AirAsia Philippines Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Isla said: “We are pleased to continue growing connectivity in the Philippines. The new Manila-Bacolod flights will provide access to Bacolod City and the Central Visayas, a region full of charming locations and local food delicacies. I am confident the new flights will continue to grow Bacolod’s thriving tourism industry." — Videos by Erwin Cagadas Jr.

Editor's note: The tour to Bacolod was hosted by AirAsia to promote tourism in the area. At no stage does the host organization has a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by following editorial guidelines.

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