Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Masskara Day and Nightlife 2

So we arrived from our interesting roam of Silay. And straight to the public plaza we went. Oops, not after we had a quick snack at Coffee Station. Hmm, I can’t vividly recall how we got ourselves inside Robinson’s Mall. Probably the jeeps from Silay terminated there and we smelled some interesting wafts or saw some interesting brews. Then again, maybe I also said something about Napoleones. Whatever the reason, we were wise for having done so, because we later realized our next meal was to be way past beyond the normal time. But everything was a rush rush until we were once again at the plaza to witness what was left of the Masskara Festival’s Dance Parade – Open Category. And argh! If yesterday the plaza was jampacked, this day it was OMG superlatively more crowded. But we pressed on. And it was not that difficult. Why? Because, we observed, people would usually size you up from head to toe, and when they sense you are a visitor, they actually make way for you to get nearer - even at times asking other spectators to give way. Hmm, not sure if it was just us or if Bacolod people are really like that.

At about sunset, everything was winding down to the final performances. We caught ourselves near the stage again, and Bing, yes the mayor, waved at us again, asking us to go up there. We signaled ‘no’ this time. Having come from a day’s roaming of Silay in our walking shorts, slippers and t-shirts, we felt we wouldn’t be a good sight to be appearing up that stage. But that did not deter one of his “official photographers” or something like that from “stalking” us hehe. We waited for the announcements of the winners. Quite predictably, our favorite bagged the highest honors. They were just actually an obvious cut above the rest, from the costumes down to every raise of their hands or feet to the turns and jumps. Yep, its them who had Thai-inspired masks, also our favorite!

Anyway, after the show, along with thousands of spectators, we stayed on to snap some photos of the participants, their props, costumes and their masks. On closer look, we noticed that even if a dancer was actually not smiling, we would never notice, since the masks mask everything into a big smile. Eh, right on site, I mean at the plaza, fellow tourists were haggling and begging to buy some of the masks. In fact, we overheard a dear Caucasian lady who wanted to buy not only the masks but the whole costumes (yes, plural) of two dancers. I think the kids went out to seek their supervisor or boss whatever to check if it can be done. The tourist was saying “no need to wash, take them off and I’ll bring them along, I fly out early tomorrow morning”. Whew!

Anyway again, stage was already clear, janitors were hauling off the monobloc chairs, we went to have some shots by the podium with the Bacolod City seal. And guess who were there also shooting at us?! The two photographers who have now become our friends hehe. They helped us out on how to focus, how to frame, how to pose and even how to avoid glare or reflection from the flash. Eh, they also became our photographers for our group pictures, gamely obliging and even directing us where to stand and how to pose with the kids who also stayed for the benefit of us tourists. Oh my, this place is not just a city of smiles. There’s that genuine sincerity to welcome us tourists behind those smiles. Yep, that’s one of the handsome photographers up that stage gamely posing for us with the "classic haciendero stance" hehe!

Alrightie, did we forget dinner? NO WAY! But that should be the same old story as last night since that’s where we found ourselves walking to! It was still ultra-crowded but this time, there was noticeably more space to walk around. And we went there probably after the crowds as it was already about 9PM. Guess what, we had time and we really sought out to find and eat at Aida’s. Not that there was something ultra-special about the place. But we just had to do it since that is what our Lonely Planet books (3 of us always carry our copies around) suggested. Ah eh.. we couldn’t point much of a difference between Aida’s chicken and other stuff to those that we had last night and those from other stalls that we grabbed tonight. Everything is just delectable! Well, maybe the locals know how to differentiate them. BUT, only at Aida’s did we learn how to make the “chicken oil”. We were all laughing at the realization on what it is made of, but just the same, we’ll try to do it at home – as instructed by the waiters and waitresses. Fun place to learn while eating!

All done? Not quite! But we didn’t have much energy to do another MO2 on this night. Our local friend suggested we hit Piazza Sorrento as there are all sorts of good restaurants and bars. And we did! First, it started with just coffee for my friends at Krua Thai. We did not seek this restaurant on purpose. Its just that it had a cozy verandah ambiance a la Eastwood. I liked the shirts their crews were wearing – restaurant name in front and Masskara at the back. They’re not just printed with plain paint, they’re embossed! So I charmed them and asked how I can get one of those as souvenir. Voila! The manager gave me one haha! But my companions cannot be left without the same. But when they asked, it turned out, the restaurant was selling those. Whahehehe, they bought theirs, mine was free!

Finally done? Not yet! Our local friends recognized some of their friends going up some bar at the 2nd floor. Curious, we checked the places up there. Nice place! And so, we ended up having cocktail drinks after coffee! And the rest is history. We only got to say hi to our beds once more at about 4AM.

Oh Bacolod!

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