Lush, towering pine trees and greens, an interesting culture, an abundance of flowers, fresh strawberries and delectable dishes – Baguio radiates a perfect blend of country and modern feel like no other and draws a large number of locals and tourists no matter what season the country is in. Aside from these, people come to Baguio for the biggest and most exciting celebration – the flower festival or popularly known as the Panagbenga Festival. And now, this wonderful city is in full bloom, once again.
In Kankanaey term, Panagbenga refers to a season for blossoming and a time for flowering. First held in 1996, the popular festival is a complete showcase of culture and tradition of Baguio and the Cordilleras, and the successful flower industry. Panagbenga has greatly contributed to the continuous rise of the city since the earthquake in 1990, which caused grave distress in the metropolis.
Panagbenga is held every February in honor of Baguio’s abundant, beautiful, flowers. Local exhibits, contests, competitions and other social events are held during the month-long festivity. With this year’s theme, Inspiring the community for a greener tomorrow, Panagbenga 2014 focuses on a pro-environmental celebration.
The highlights of this annual flower festival, which has been likened to California’s Pasadena Rose Parade, are two most anticipated events usually celebrated during the last weekend of February – the street dancing parade and the grand float parade.
This year’s Grand Street Dance Parade included the display of banners created by Baguio volunteer, the Philippine Military Academy Band and cadets; performers from Baguio’ sister-cities in Thailand China and South Korea; students from various school; and local employees, which were accompanied by marching bands which paraded from Panagbenga Park to Athletic Bowl. Locals in native clothes delivered cultural dances while other participants, clad in distinctly colorful costumes, performed a variety of dance numbers. The much-awaited Panagbenga 2014 Grand Floral Parade featured artistic floats decked with flowers arranged by various institutions and companies. The flower-covered floats, some with celebrities onboard, were accompanied by drum and lyre bands. Watched by thousands of spectators, the floral parade is a tradition and a showcase of beauty and local craftsmanship where large floats are adorned with attractive flowers of different kinds, colors and sizes, as well as other organic products, all grown in the mountains of Baguio.
Crowds flock the busy Session Road, the most popular street in Baguio city, where an assortment of food carts, cafes, shops promoting and selling local products like strawberry jams, taho, and fresh fruits and vegetables line up. Apart from these, Baguio’s premiere street also hosts events such as concerts and other entertainment shows which usually take place until the first Sunday of March.
The flower festival is a cultural awareness delivered through a uniquely dynamic approach, brought together by the commitment and shared goals of the locals. It is a bridge between the indigenous people and the present generation which relives and the locals’ artistry, values and traditions. Panagbenga is where the people of Baguio shine.
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