Officially known as the “Panagbenga: A Kankana-ey” which translates to “a season for blossoming; a time for blooming”, Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival is most famous for its float parade featuring the stunning beauty of the flowers grown in the city. It is a festival like no other seen in the country. It is often likened to the famous Rose Parade of Pasadena, California.
Rising from Devastation
The cool climate and fertile soils of Baguio City and its neighboring towns allow cultivation of a wide range of plants, including vegetables and flowers. The city was always known as the main source of these beautiful flowers and fresh fruits. Still, it wasn’t after the 1990 Luzon Earthquake when wide-spread devastation affected the area that its importance was truly recognized.
The city was among the places hardest hit by the quake. To help in recovering from the major damage from the earthquake, the concept of the Panagbenga Festival was born. What better way to boost the city than to use the products of its soil?
The Panagbenga Festival is the recognition of the beauty of the flowers in Baguio City and the dedication of its people. It is also a way of promoting the old traditions in the local culture, something that benefits not just the tourists but the new generations from the locality.
A Showcase of Beauty and Craftsmanship
As a month-long event, the Panagbenga Festival is able to showcase the city’s natural beauty and the craftsmanship of its people. It all begins with a grand opening parade on February 1. The parade also features a street dancing competition among elementary students as well as drum and lyre competition. All parades throughout the festival pass through Session Road and end at Melvin Jones Grounds.
Burnham Park is the venue for the Trade Fair and Bazaar that begins on the first Saturday of February up to the first Sunday of March which is also the official end of the year’s Panagbenga Festival. Session Road is closed to vehicle traffic throughout the celebration, with various shops and stalls selling flowers, food, and crafts lining the city’s major thoroughfare.
The last weekend of February sees Baguio City come alive with a grand Parade and Street Dancing Competition on Saturday and the renowned Float and Marching Band Competitions on Sunday. The latter is truly the grandest feature of the festival, with majestic floats decorated from top to bottom with different kinds of flowers. These finely crafted floats are paraded across the city along with dancers decked in colorful costumes showcasing the beauty and grace of the local people. Marching bands also keep the parade lively.
The closing ceremonies on the first Sunday of March are almost anti-climactic after the marvelous float parade. This is compensated by fantastic fireworks display that marks the end of the Panagbenga Festival.
Image Credit : Panagbenga 169 by Rhedee