BACOLOD CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte praised Bacolod City for its resilience in facing difficult challenges as he graced the 38th MassKara Festival here on Sunday, October 22.
In his speech, President Duterte recalled how the people of Bacolod managed to rise up again following several challenges such as the sugar cane industry crisis and the Negros Navigation’s M/V Don Juan tragedy.
“Born from the unified efforts of locals to uplift the people’s morale from the hardships that hit the City of Bacolod and the island of Negros, the festival became a symbol of its people’s happy disposition and resilience during difficult times,” Duterte said.
“Every year, the festivities never fail to give guests a memorable experience. In fact, this is one of the most anticipated events in the region. It is no wonder that Bacolod City is regarded as the ‘City of Smiles,'” he added.
He stressed that the hardships faced by Bacolodnons and Negrenses should serve as an inspiration to all Filipinos “that we can rise up and surmount any crisis through hardwork, perseverance and cooperation.”
“That is why I encourage everyone gathered here to also show the same indomitable resolve in overcoming the pressing problems of our country,” he said.
“Let us show the rest of the world that behind every friendly smile, there is an iron-clad will to triumph over the struggles that come our way,” he added.
“More than merrymaking, let the Masskara Festival be a continuing testament that no amount of hardship could dampen the Filipino spirit,” he further said.
The Chief Executive commended the concerted efforts of the local government and the private sector to make the festival a success.
The President also dedicated a part of his speech to those who contributed to the resolution of the Marawi siege.
“Let us thank the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the police, the Coast Guard who participated there and, of course, everybody connected with the pacification campaign,” he said.
Duterte urged Filipinos to show gratitude to the government troops for their sacrifices in restoring peace in the Islamic City.
“They really went into hell at ‘yung iba did not make it,” he lamented.
He, meanwhile, warned Filipinos against “any eventuality” following the liberation of Marawi.
“But in the coming days, with the siege that happened in Marawi – I’m not trying to scare you, but let’s just be prepared for any eventuality,” he said noting that terrorism and the ISIS attack can hit anywhere.
“So prepare for a little bit of caution and everything and it would help if everybody also could watch everybody,” he added.
In the same speech, the President said he is not ready to resume peace talks with the Reds but appealed to them to “kindly stop killing.”
Before addressing the people of Bacolod, President Duterte witnessed a performance by one of the street dance competition contingents.
Last year, President Duterte also graced the MassKara festival.
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia expressed his gratitude to the Chief Executive, calling him as the “number one promoter” of the 38-year-old festival.###PND