I remember that day more than four years ago when I boarded that Air Philippines flight bound for Manila. As the plane lifted from the runway of the Old Bacolod Airport, I see my beloved hometown seemingly getting smaller as the plane flies into the horizon. The experience seems new and unprepared. I have always traveled far from home but this one was magical if not surreal for parting from the land of my birth will be longer, maybe permanent. Those groups of houses and buildings that I can seem to carry in the palm of my hands is the city where I spent the sixteen years of my life. Its is where I took my first breath, stride my first walk, savored my first love and wept my first frustration. All those years I spent in that very city fading away from my sight. As the plane hops along the cotton white clouds in the sky, I cannot help but think of the memories that passed me. Those sweet memories I will never forget and will cherish as long as live.
As a young child, Masskara Festival is one of the events I look forward to. The last day of the Masskara Festival, October 19, would mean no classes for us and a chance for me to enjoy the carnival rides or eat my favorite chicken inasal along stalls near the Plaza. Masskara Festival would always be colorful, fun and exciting. Each street dances would feature dancers in their artistic attires and unique dance moves. I was one of the little kids that would rush to the side of Araneta St. to watch these dancers passed by. The little kid that I was would brave the oftentimes crowded streets just to have a clear view of the dancers. Everyone wears a smile, dancers on their masks, cityfolks in their enthusiasm, tourists in their satisfactions and me, the little kid, in my amusement. As Christmas is to the other kids the most wonderful time of the year, Masskara is to me. Every Masskara I enjoyed until the busyness of life caught unto me, my ambition for the honors list and finally, entrance exams that would serve as my ticket to the grand and prestigious universities of the big Metropolitan Manila.
I finally achieved my dream of studying in the big Metro, known many friends and accustomed to the ways of the big city. I now moved like a Manilan, thinked like a Manilan, talked like a Manilan and even partied like a Manilan but even with all these changes, I can never deny that I still am a Bacoleño imprinted in my very heart and soul. Masskara, the food, the smiles – all these things I have taken for granted all these years actually defines my unique character, my being Bacoleño. As I reminisce those days of old that I spent in my beloved city, my heart wishes to go back and find that little kid who loves his beloved Bacolód. I would like to experience Masskara Festival once more with my people, to rediscover the real me, a Bacoleño by birth and by heart. Those sweet genuine smiles, as sweet as sugarcane in the fields that sway in the gentle touch of wind, I wish to see again. As I finish my work today, as I sign the last papers needed to be signed, I carry the hope that I’ll be back someday with the sounds of the mighty beat of drums and the menagerie of colors that is the Masskara Festival.
Experience MassKara Festival, Hermosa Festival and Lanzones Festival this October. Airphil Express flies daily to BACOLOD, ZAMBOANGA and CAGAYAN DE ORO from Cebu and Manila. Visit http://www.airphilexpress.com to book!