LOS ANGELES – It is all systems go for the 1st MassKara Festival in Long Beach, California on July 27-28, 2018. This will be the first time that the world-famous Philippine festival is being celebrated outside the City of Bacolod, which recently revived its sister-city relationship with the City of Long Beach.
Bacolod Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, City Administrator and former Congressman John Orola, six of the city’s Councilors, City Planning Officer Jean Ramos, City Tourism Officer Elma Gerasmo, and leaders of Bacolod’s business community are in town to tour the Port of Long Beach and meet with their California counterparts led by Tyler Curley, Legislative Deputy of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.
Earlier, the Bacolod delegation paid courtesy calls on Philippine Consul General Henry Bensurto and Tourism Attache Purificacion Molintas in San Francisco as well as on Philippine Consul General Adelio Cruz and Tourism Attache Richmond Jimenez here in LA. They also held press conferences with members of the Filipino-American media in Northern and Southern California.
Organizing the two-day event is the Long Beach-Bacolod Association (LBBA) headed by Joe Gamboa, Peter Ramirez, Evelyn Andamo, Malou Mariano, and Joey Montalvo. The festival kicks off with an inaugural International Trade and Finance Seminar at the Long Beach campus of California State University (CalState).
Speakers include Norman Arikawa for the Port of Long Beach and Wendy Fung for the Port of Los Angeles; Celine Layug of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center; Greg Moore of the US Export-Import Bank; Martin Selander of the US Small Business Administration; Leah Haws of the California Center for International Trade Development; and Ray Allen of Emerald Energy.
A movie premiere will be staged at CalState’s UTC Building along East Campus Drive featuring “Stateside” – a film on the Fil-Am Diaspora directed by LBBA Executive Director Marcial Chavez and produced by Francis Fabiculanan.
Capping the celebration is a whole-day tourism and fair at the Long Beach Recreation Park on 7th Street and Federation Avenue. Booths showcasing the best of Filipino cuisine and iconic Philippine products will be on full display at the festival site, while a concert of Fil-Am artists would provide entertainment for attendees who are expected to come from all over North America.
Among the performers are Jet Montelibano and the Union Band; rapper Ruby Ibarra; singers Garth Garcia and Nathan Fasching; martial artist Ramiro Estabilla; Masskara dancers from the Los Angeles Philippine Women’s Club; and actor Michael Keith of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon fame. Sponsoring the MassKara Festival in Long Beach are Philippine Airlines, Sister Cities of Long Beach, Mabuhay Bank of California, Melba’s Farm of Negros, and Seafood City USA.
The original MassKara was conceived as a “Festival of Smiles” in 1980. Founded by the late Bacolod Mayor Jose “Digoy” Montalvo, it was meant to be a healing event after 750 residents of the city perished in the MV Don Juan maritime tragedy, including Montalvo’s wife, mother-in-law, and two daughters. Since then, the MassKara Festival has become a major tourist attraction in the Philippines every October.
Almost four decades later, Bacolod’s premier fiesta will debut overseas with the theme, “We Bring the Fun of the Philippines to Long Beach.” This is a fitting commemoration that coincides with the city’s 80th charter anniversary dubbed as “Kari Kamo sa Bacolod 2018.”