Piaya (pronounced as “Pee-A-YAH”) is a flat unleavened bread filled with mozcovado (raw) sugar. A product of the Negros provinces, sugar capital of the Philippines, it is now also produced by other regions in the Visayas.
Flaky on the outside, this thin crust pastry is a well-known souvenir for visitors and locals alike. The bread is flaky, just like hopia, and the filling is sweet. The dough is prepared then formed into small balls. The filling of mozcovado sugar is spooned at the center of each ball after which the ball is re-shaped. Rolling pins are used to flatten them. Ovens used for commercially produced piaya are not enclosed contraptions but more like huge open griddles. The flattened piaya are arranged in rows and columns, cooked until the underside is lightly browned then flipped over to brown the opposite side. Piaya is best when freshly baked.
The MassKara Festival is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City, capital of Negros Occidental province, every third weekend of October nearest October 19, the city’s founding anniversary.
The festival was born out of crisis in 1980 when the price of sugar cane, a primary crop in the province, plunged due cheap sugar substitutes in the US. In the same year on April 22 tragedy struck when the inter-island ferry boat Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank, killing an estimated 700 people.
In the midst of these tragic events, the city’s artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. The word “MassKara” was coined by the late artist Ely Santiago from the word “mass” meaning “many or a multitude of the people”, and the Spanish word cara meaning “face”. A prominent feature of the festival is the mask worn by participants; these are always adorned with smiling faces. MassKara thus means a multitude of smiling face’.
The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of gaiety, coordination and stamina. (From: Wikipedia).
Mabuhay ang MassKara Festival!