President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is set to attend the culminating activities for this year’s Masskara Festival in Bacolod City on Sunday, October 23, Malacañang said Saturday.
In a statement, the Palace said Marcos' attendance at the world-renowned festivity is a testament to his commitment to promoting local tourism amid the industry's recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a message on Friday, the President called on Filipinos to participate in the annual revelry and at the same time explore Bacolod, which is widely known as the "City of Smiles."
"This world-renowned festival was conceived to counter the despondency brought about by the challenges of the time. Today, as we find ourselves facing a similar dilemma, let this year’s festivity resonate ever so deeply and find even greater meaning in its joyful observance," he said.
"May the vivid colors and smiles so common and abundant during the festivities serve as declarations of resilience, even as we tackle our deepest concerns and overcome our greatest hurdles, especially now that we are steadily gaining grounds on the difficult task of nation-building," he added.
Since assuming office, Marcos has expressed strong support for the tourism sector, believing that it is among the country’s "high potential drivers for economic transformation."
According to Malacañang, the President is optimistic that through the efforts and initiatives of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippines will be able to restore its tourism figures to pre-pandemic levels creating more job opportunities and bringing economic progress.
Vice President Sara Duterte and First Lady Louise “Liza” Araneta-Marcos will join the President during the festivities.
With its theme, “Balik Yuhum!” which means smile again, the Masskara Festival is back for its 43rd-year celebration after two years of being suspended due to the pandemic.
The MassKara Festival began in 1980 following a series of sugar crises suffered by Bacolodnons and Negrenses. Specifically, the crisis was caused by the oversupply of sugar in the international market which caused world sugar prices to drop.
The smiling colorful masks used in the festival are a symbol of their resiliency and unity despite challenges and problems.
Before the festival, Marcos is scheduled to attend the inauguration of The Upper East and the unveiling of the township marker in Bacolod City.