Masskara parade brings smiles to Taipei
Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) Hundreds of people wearing colorful costumes and smiling masks of all sizes paraded through the streets of downtown Taipei on Sunday to celebrate one of the Philippine's most joyous festivals.
The Taipei Masskara Festival took the form of a parade of some 1,200 people from St. Christopher's Church, along Zhongshan North Road, and Nong'an and Shuangcheng streets, to Qingguang park.
In a speech at the start of the parade, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said one of the goals of the parade was to promote diversity and multiculturalism in the city through cultural activities.
"This is the first time we are hosting the Taipei Masskara Festival, which helps to introduce Filipino culture to our city residents," Ko said. "We hope this and other events will help make Taipei a more inclusive society."
Speaking with CNA on the sidelines of the festival, Gilberto F. Lauengco, deputy resident representative at the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, said the event is very important to Philippine nationals in Taiwan.
"The Masskara Festival is about showing smiles despite hardships," he said.
"Everybody is suffering now (because of the COVID-19 pandemic), but despite that, we are able to show the indomitable Filipino spirit by smiling."
The Masskara, also known as the "Festival of Smiles" is one of the biggest in the Philippines. It originated in the City of Bacolod in the 1980s during a crisis, when the price of sugar, the province's main source of income, dropped to an all-time low.
Lauengco said it was not sure if the festival was being held in Bacolod this year, because many local governments in the Philippines have suspended large gatherings.
Meanwhile, 32 groups, including city residents, migrant workers, and immigrants, took part in a competition at the festival, which judged their costumes and creativity.
Filipino migrant worker Mark Lester Reyes, who has become a household name in the Philippine community in Taiwan because of his artistic talent, was the biggest winner at Sunday's festival as he was the designer of the costumes for three groups that won prizes.
Reyes was awarded a total of NT$18,000 (US$619.96), while the three winning groups that he dressed -- MLR Creations, Overseas Foreign Worker Models and Talents in Taiwan (OFWMTT), and Next Top OFW Model gained prizes for "Best Masskara Creativity," "Best Costume and Design," and "Best Stage Composure," respectively.
"It's all worth it, all the effort," said Reyes, who spent about 100 hours after work making the costumes.
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