For MassKara 2019, Which Mask Will You Wear?
Lory Joyce Andagan | Oct 11, 2019
Souvenirs will always be necessary for every destination as pasalubongs and remembrances of tourists visiting a certain locale. The City of Smiles, Bacolod City is soon be celebrating its Masskara Festival and it is best to have a mask as your souvenir.
Mask making is a long process – from creating the desired designs, molding the mask, polishing, painting and putting other elements. Despite the struggle, the vibrant designs and smiles in every help lift everyone's spirits; this is the role of every mask made from Bacolod City.
[related: The Happiest Festival in the Philippines!]
Jojo Vito is an entrepreneur that makes Masskara souvenirs in Bacolod City. “I had a printing press before. When it closed, I was wondering about how to get rid of all the scratch papers that we had," Jojo reminisces, "I decided to make paper mache. Masks would be better because it represents the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.”
It was not as easy for Jojo to sell his paper mache masks. “These wearable paper mache masks were only sold during Masskara festival. We ventured into clay for home decorations but these items were not durable enough to last for a long period of time," confides Jojo, "Eventually, we came up with an idea of making a mask made of fiberglass.” This was a pivotal development, one that marked the beginning of a new industry. During that time, mask making in Bacolod was limited to the month of October for the Masskara festival. “I decided to make masks as souvenirs, giveaways, and trophies for tourists and visitors coming to Bacolod every day," Jojo shares, "If I am not mistaken, I was the one who started the mask making industry whole year-round.”
Every mask that Vito bears unique designs. He usually incorporates symbols in each. “Each piece that we have has a story to tell. I am not limiting my designs to Bacolod alone," says Jojo, "I represent Negros. That is the reason why I have masks with elements from other cities and municipalities in the province. ”After 20 years in the business, Jojo’s shop is now one of the tourist attractions in Bacolod City. A mask garden offers interactive activities such as mask-making where guests can design their own mask. “When they go to Bacolod City, people can experience the Masskara Festival, even if it's not the month of October,” Jojo relates.