How did the Flower Festival bloom?
February has finally arrived. Welcome to what is considered as the most exciting and colorful month for Baguio city. The famous flower festival called Panagbenga officially opens today.
Panagbenga is similar to Pasadena’s Rose Parade but what makes Baguio’s festival more thrilling is that a wide variety of flowers are featured. Aside from the parades, there are also fair and bazaar. It is packed with lots of activities, and the most important of all, the celebration lasts a month!
It was merely called as Baguio Flower Festival, an initiative spearheaded by Atty. Damaso E. Bangaoet, Jr and presented to the board of directors of John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation in 1995. It was immediately approved, and why?
In history, Spanish ruled over the Philippines for more than 300 years until the arrival of the Americans. When the Spanish had already influenced the majority of Philippine cities in terms of religion and culture, it was then that America converted Baguio City as their hill station. Baguio City never had an official festival aside from its charter day on September 1.
Flower Festival had brought communities to unite in showcasing the culture of Cordillera as well to boost the tourism of the city. The government sees its huge potential that it became an annual event of Baguio City.
One of the assets of Baguio City is its climate. The month of February is the period of low temperatures that can reach to 10 degrees Celsius. The month is also between Christmas and Holy Week, which is considered perfect for attracting tourists.
The second Flower Festival was already in the works, but the organizers want to make it bigger and better. So, they gave it a name: Panagbenga. It is a term of Kankanaey origin which means, a season of blossoming; a time of flowering. This name, suggested by Ike Picpican, an archivist and curator of the SLU Museum, was deemed perfect for the celebration, and it became what every Filipino know today.
The core events
Although there had been many variations in the past Panagbenga celebrations, the organizers came up with a schedule of activities that played effectively up to present:
Opening parade | February 1
The parade introduces the Panagbenga. This will feature an opening program including drum and lyre, and street dancing competitions among schools.
Session in Bloom | Whole February
Also known as the trade fair and bazaar where business stalls are set up on the iconic Session Road for people to walk in. Flower stalls are also placed in a queue for tourists to see and admire.
Grand Float Parade | Fourth Sunday of February
Marching bands playing lovely tunes and wearing colorful costumes will lead the parade. The highlight will be the vibrant, creative floats made of flowers that represent an entity be it a private company or a community. It has become more popular when local artists join the parade.
Closing ceremonies | First Sunday of March
There will be exhibitions that follow a formal program. It ends with a fireworks display.
Just in case you’re interested, here is the full schedule of Panagbenga Flower Festival. See you there!