On Wednesday, October 11, the Filipino Association of Stevens Tech (FAST) hosted the MassKara Festival in Walker Gym. It is a “festival of smiles” to celebrate perseverance and hard work in the Philippines. MassKara originated in Bacolod, Philippines, after a series of tragedies, including the price of sugarcane dropping to an all-time low, and the sinking of the commercial vessel MV Don Juan.
After these adversities, the people of the Philippines needed to lighten their spirits, so created the MassKara Festival, derived from the words “mass” meaning crowd, “kara” meaning face “maskara” meaning mask, and “MassKara” meaning a multitude of faces. During the festival, people wear vibrant masks to represent hope and participate in cultural dances to celebrate their heritage.
Although the festival first appeared in 1980, it is now celebrated every fourth Sunday of October, which cultural chair Anthony Lucero, believes is “ a testament to pride and strength because even though the Philippines may not be the most fortunate country, they have the most amazing people as they care so much and decide to smile on and appreciate their blessings.”
FAST began preparing this festival in the summer, and its members have been rehearsing dances for three weeks, with three to four hours per practice and two to three meetings per week.
At FAST’s festival, following the presentation regarding the history of the event, attendees were able to participate in a brief trivia quiz and were then treated to authentic Filipino food, including pork lumpiang shanghai (pork filled egg rolls), torta talong (eggplant omelet), maja mais (coconut and corn pudding), leche flan, and much more!
Throughout the event, students were also able to make masks and take photos at the photo booth.
Furthermore, the event included members of FAST performing the Pandanggo, a dance involving candles to represent fireflies, and the Tinikling, which involves people stepping in and out of clapping bamboo sticks. A group of students from Stony Brook University also joined the festival and performed the Bulaklakan, a dance of swaying flowers.
Daniella Magcalas, the social chair of FAST, described the general ambiance of the festival as “Ito ay may ilaw”, which translates to”It’s lit” as the festival is utilized to promote positivity and educate students on Filipino culture on campus.