FESTIVAL SPONSORS. Masskara Festival director Pinky Mirano-Ocampo (center) with executives of San Miguel Brewery Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc., Megaworld Corp., and AB Leisure Exponent Inc.’s Bingo Plus, major sponsors of the 43rd Masskara Festival, after the signing of the sponsorship deals at Scarborough Seafoods restaurant in Bacolod City on Tuesday (Sept. 27, 2022). Mirano-Ocampo said it is "all systems go” for the three-week festivities. (PNA photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)

BACOLOD CITY – City officials and residents here will usher in the staging of the 43rd Masskara Festival during the countdown at the Bacolod City Government Center grounds at midnight of Sept. 30.

This year’s edition of the world-renowned “festival of many faces” is poised to be the grandest in the “City of Smiles” as it returns two years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s all systems go,” festival director Pinky Mirano-Ocampo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ahead of the official opening on Oct. 1, the Bacolod Yuhum Foundation Inc., headed by Mirano-Ocampo, forged agreements on Tuesday with San Miguel Brewery Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc., Megaworld Corp., and AB Leisure Exponent Inc.’s Bingo Plus, the major sponsors of the three-week festival, which will run until Oct. 23.

She said they have also tapped minor sponsors to meet the needed funding for the entire festivity expected to draw at least 200,000 revelers.

The city government has also provided financial assistance to the barangays participating in the street and arena dance competition as well as in the Electric Masskara float parade and dance-off contest, she added.

Mirano-Ocampo said they have started to set up the food and exhibit stalls in both the Government Center and the Bacolod Public Plaza.

Aside from these two areas, the Masskara Festival 2022 sites also include the Baywalk at the Reclamation Area, Megaworld’s The Upper East, Lacson Strip, SMX Convention Center, Paglaum Stadium, Panaad Park and Stadium, and the University of St. La Salle Coliseum.

Mirano-Ocampo said their team is coordinating with the Bacolod City Police Office, the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure the safety and security of revelers.

“Since we are still in a pandemic, we encourage everyone to take heed of the health protocols by using face masks, at the very least, in enclosed spaces and very crowded places,” she added.

The Masskara Festival 2022 is themed “Balik Yuhum”, which translates to smile again or bring back the smile, a reference to Bacolod’s tagline as the “City of Smiles”. (PNA)