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Iconic, innovative and ingenious

When he created the first MassKara Festival mask over two decades ago, he immediately set the standards of what and how a mask from the City of Smiles must look like – charming, elegant, flamboyant and sweet. From then on, whenever guests and locals want to have an authentic Bacolod mask, Vito always comes to mind. Vito masks are considered a cut above the rest because of the intricacy of the designs and meticulously crafted. These art pieces are indeed a sight to behold.

Vito’s latest opus is now a current favorite backdrop for IG-worthy photos. Since the soft opening of the Megaworld-owned McDonald’s NXT Gen store in The Upper East in Bacolod on Monday, social media feeds have been flooded with photos of individuals and groups posing with Vito’s 2D relief sculpture in the background. He calls his most recent work the “MassKara Garden”.

Renowned Bacolodnon mask maker Jojo Vito proudly standing by what he considers his biggest and the first 2D relief sculpture in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in The Upper East McDo NXT Gen Store.*
The “MassKara Garden” is made of fiberglass and recycled materials. It took Vito more than a month to complete the artwork.* Megaworld Bacolod photo
Yasss! painting her own mask while interviewing Vito in his gallery.*

Aside from the bright-colored smiling masks which are a signature of Vito masks, ornamental plants and colorful flowers add to the festive and fun atmosphere for which the yearly MassKara Festival is famous for.

“My MassKara Garden is also a tribute to the plantitas and plantitos because they are the people who made a difference in the time of the pandemic. They’ve helped our economy which was badly affected by the lockdowns. You will see there [in my art work] Monsteras and other plants they love. It is very colorful because MassKara is colorful,” explained Vito who is also a plantito.  He ventured into gardening and online selling of plants and fiberglass jars when he had to close shop and temporarily stop making masks because of the pandemic in 2020.

The 4.8 meter by 4.20 meter 2D relief sculpture is made of fiberglass. He also used recycled materials which aligns with the sustainability features of the NXT Gen store that include recycled bricks used as flooring materials. A green wall at the alfresco area further highlights sustainability as a major element in the store’s design.

Vito’s giant masks are part of the store’s exterior design. These are easily visible from afar and light up at night giving a more festive and colorful feel.

“I was anxious at first because you know the Bacolodnons are very choosy and have very high standards when it comes to beauty and the arts. It’s either they will hate you or they will love you. But so far, I am getting good reviews based on social media posts. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be made a part of Megaworld’s project,” said Vito.

It took him more than a month to finish what he considers as the first 2D relief sculpture made and displayed in Bacolod and the province.

“Megaworld did not require me to show them my concept and design. That means a lot because it shows how much they trust me. I am very grateful,” he added.

Looking back to the first two years of the pandemic, Vito can only look up and smile saying, “All of these are because of divine providence. If you have seen my work, there is a sun. The sun symbolizes divine provision. This is undoubtedly happening because of divine intervention. It’s a provision,” he emphasized.

Harold Geronimo, Vice President and Head of Public Relations and Media Affairs, said their intention is to make the 34-hectare township a tourist destination. They tapped Vito to do the piece for them because there is no one else who can do it than a seasoned and renowned mask maker.

“There’s no one else who can do this beautiful piece than Jojo Vito because he has been in the business for 25 years and his name has always been synonymous with the MassKara Festival. He is the most popular mask maker of Bacolod. That giant mask is a celebration of Bacolod artistry and ingenuity,” he added.

Just like the most-photographed Las Vegas-inspired Bacolod Welcome Marker at the border of Talisay and Bacolod Cities, this innovation introduced by Vito will surely be another favorite landmark and icon.

The 87-year-old birthday celebrator Remedios Genito Vargas, wore an elegant red gown designed by Ilognon Steve Genzola of the School of Fashion and Arts (SOFA); right, party organizer Ilog Councilor Mark John Vargas with former Valladolid Mayor Ricardo Presbitero and wife Desiree, Tina Dormido Santillana and their LCC Bacolod Class ‘80 classmates.*

BIRTHDAY BASH

Ilog Councilor Mark John Vargas threw a blazing red birthday party for his beloved 87-year-old mom, Remedios Genito Vargas in Bacolod City Sunday. Guests and relatives came in red. The celebrator was glamorous in her red gown designed by fashion designer Steve Genzola who is also a professor in the School of Fashion and the Arts (SOFA).

Among the guests who graded the occasion were former Valladolid Mayor Ricardo Presbitero and wife Desiree. Classmates of the councilor’s sister, Maria Esperanza Vargas-Matteim in La Consolacion Bacolod led by Tina Dormido Santillana also graced the celebration.

Guests went home with packs of the famous crispy piayitas as token.*

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