Toyota, Japan – On Oct. 22, 2023, the Smiles Mobile Remittance Philippines Team attended the Masskara Festival held in Toyota, Japan. The event was organized by the Aichi Philippine Community Association (APCA), with Juliz Oshiro serving as its President.
This marked the first time that the Smiles Mobile Remittance Team had participated in the vibrant Masskara Festival, a celebration inspired by the legendary Bacolod City festival in the Philippines, which is known for its colorful masks and joyful spirit. In Japan, the festival took place in the city of Toyota, near Toyota Station, providing plenty of space to accommodate around 500 to 600 visitors throughout the location.
The program began at around 11 a.m., offering a variety of activities to keep the crowd entertained. The activities included Masskara dancing, TikTok dancing for kids, captivating street dance performances, live music from a talented band, and a thrilling game of bingo, which proved to be quite popular among attendees.
The event organizers, notably Ms. Juliz, introduced the Smiles Mobile Remittance team to distinguished guests, including the Vice Consul of the Philippine Consulate General Nagoya, Jericson H. Arceo, and Virgie Ishihara, the Director of the Filipino Migrant Center Nagoya. Ms. Juliz’s impressive social media promotion efforts led to increased recognition and engagement with the event among followers and friends.
The festival was an opportunity for attendees to experience the joy of the Masskara Festival, an annual celebration that shares similarities with Brazil’s Rio Carnival. “Masskara” translates to “many faces,” and it is celebrated every October in Bacolod, Philippines. Bacolod City earned the nickname “The City of Smiles” due to the smiling faces on the festival’s masks.
Behind the colorful celebration lies a story of strength. The Masskara Festival was born during the 1980s when Bacolod faced a severe crisis. The region’s main livelihood, the sugar industry, suffered due to market alternatives, leading to one of the worst famines in the country’s history. Additionally, a tragic ferry accident took the lives of many, including prominent families from Bacolod. The smiling masks of the Masskara Festival represented the city’s determination to overcome these challenges and tragedies, bringing back smiles to the faces of its people.
In Japan, Filipinos have come together to celebrate the beauty of a smile at the Masskara Festival, just as their fellow Filipinos did in Bacolod. The Smiles Mobile Remittance Philippines Team’s participation in the event is a testament to their commitment to support and uplift the Filipino community, no matter the challenges they face.
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