BACOLOD CITY – With the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic still preventing mass gatherings to celebrate the MassKara Festival here this October, traffic enforcers kept the spirit of the festivity alive as they showcased their street dance skills in the middle of the city’s major intersection on Tuesday.
Dancing to the medley of favorite MassKara music and wearing colorful Mardi gras masks as well as black face masks, the 10 traffic enforcers who competed for the title of “Best Dancing Traffic Enforcer” along Lacson Street and B.S. Aquino Drive breathed life into the world-renowned festival, already canceled for the second time since last year.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said on Wednesday he felt nostalgic, hearing the MassKara dance music during the contest held during the supposed highlight week of the festival.
“With this Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) event, we were able to feel the spirit of MassKara. Hearing this dance music makes me feel homesick, it is like you long for it but you can’t have it,” the mayor said.
“This event mirrors our MassKara Festival. Even if we are in the midst of the pandemic, we still have that happy disposition. Right now, we are in crisis again – a pandemic – but we have proven that Bacolodnons are resilient. We will survive this,” he added.
The street and arena dance competition participated by various barangays is one of the most-anticipated highlights of the now 42-year-old MassKara Festival.
Maj. Ruel Culanag, head of BTAO, said through the competition, they aim to showcase the dance talent of the enforcers as they manage the flow of traffic, and also celebrate the MassKara Festival.
“We want to be part of the colorful MassKara Festival by way of entertaining the motorists, pedestrians, residents, and visitors. We would like to bring out more smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts. The people will feel better and strive to live contentedly and happily amid the adversity,” he added.
Moreover, Leonardia commended the traffic enforcers for doing their job well.
“I am very proud of you. I came here to honor and appreciate the efforts you’ve done to ensure the safety and order in the streets of our city. To our traffic enforcers, you are an inspiration to all of us. You play a major role in our society,” the mayor said.
During the awarding rites held at the BTAO office inside the Bacolod City Police Office compound, Jemar Valencia, 29, of Barangay 35 was declared the winner.
A traffic enforcer since 2017, Valencia was a dance instructor before literally hitting the streets of Bacolod.
The place of the competition, locally known as “Ramos-Lacson,” is his main area of assignment.
“Dancing is my passion. While I was manning the traffic, I was practicing at the same time. At home, I also practiced,” he said.
Valencia received a cash prize of PHP10,000, a certificate, a sack of rice, and grocery items.
As the winner of the SM’s Choice Award, he also got PHP5,000 worth of gift certificates. (PNA)