Panagbenga Festival - Baguio Flower Festival
Baguio City: February 1- February 29
Photos by: Maricel Santiago
It's flower season at the City of Pines -- perfect timing for an all-out fiesta in the streets. The Baguio folks take a break on these days to revel in the cool climate and the unique culture of their city. Multi-hued costumes are worn, mimicking the various blooms of the highland region (or any of its 11 ethnic tribes). There's also the half-dozen or so flower beds-- disguised, of course, as the Panagbenga parade floats.
It all began in 1995 when lawyer; Damaso E. Bangaoet, Jr., John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC) Managing Director for Camp John Hay, presented to the Board of Directors of JPDC the idea of spearheading the holding of a flower festival in Baguio City. The Board, then led by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) Chairman Victor A. Lim and JPDC President Rogelio L. Singson, approved the project immediately. It was also decided that the Festival be held every February.
From the very start, JPDC saw itself as the initiator, not the producer of the Festival.
Consequently, its strategy was to present the idea to the various sectors of the community: government, education, business, media and civic organizations. This was not only to solicit their support, but also to gather their suggestions and ideas. Their response was generally warm and immediate, except for a few doubting Thomases. Nevertheless, the idea had fallen on fertile ground. It grew as a wellspring of community support fed resources into the project. The Baguio Flower Festival was an idea on its way to becoming a reality.
Making the idea a reality fell into the hands of the BFF Secretariat which was chaired by Attorney Bangaoet and manned by JPDC staff and volunteers led by Eric Jonathan Picart. In Addition, an advisory group of flower enthusiasts like Rebecca Domogan, Gloria Vergara, Julie Cabato, Willie Magtibay and Efren Chat was formed. They began by creating an identity for the Festival, one that would reflect the history, traditions and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras. In October 1995, the Baguio Flower Festival acquired face. Its official logo was chosen from entries to the Annual Camp John Hay Art Contest. The competition was open to elementary, high school and college students of Baguio. Its theme revolved around preserving the environment with a special emphasis on the flowers of the Cordillera.
The 18th Kadayawan Festival was well participated, particularly the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan participated in by local government units, including those outside the Davao region. A huge crowd trooped to city thoroughfares Saturday to witness the street dancing competition.
Instead of a complete painting, the distinguished board of judges led by well-known artist BenCab chose a spray of sunflowers on the corner of the entry submitted by Trisha Tabangin, a student of the Baguio City National High School.
Shortly thereafter, a Festival hymn was composed by Professor Macario Fronda of Saint Louis University. To this music was added the rhythm and movements of the Bendian dance, an Ibaloi dance of celebration. The Bendian dance's circular movements speak of unity and harmony among members of the tribe - themes that foreshadowed the coming toogether of the various sectors of the community to bring the Baguio Flower Festival to life.
How to Get There
From Manila, Baguio is accessible by air and land transportation. Asian Spirits Airline maintains a daily schedule of flights from Manila to Baguio and back to Manila. Various bus companies, garage cars, and tours operators supplement the transportation requirements of tourists and visitors. Local transportation is abundant – taxis at 20 pesos flagdown, jeepneys at minimum 4 pesos and 25 centavos, and car hires at reasonable rates.
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