Today the Panagbenga 2014 celebration ends, and just like every season of blooming in Baguio City it ended with a bang. A program featuring presentations from the Philippine Military Academy and the winners of the Drum and Lyre competition in the elementary level, were witnessed by spectators. Indeed just like other seasons, the season of blooming must come to a close and as participants starts to load their instruments and props into the jeepney to take it to their school’s band room and as they hang up their colorful costumes, as audience both residents and tourists alike starts to troop back to their homes or at least catch a last bargain at Session Road and as the entrepreneurs participating in the Sesssion Road in Bloom starts to close shop and pack their wares the organizers of the Panagbenga festival are preparing for the staging of Panagbenga 2015. Yes, seasons end but that doesn’t mean that we do not look forward for another season of celebration.
As someone who has been watching the Parades, enjoying the Session Road in Bloom and having fun with my family during the Handog Ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio for several years now and for someone virtually who experienced Panagbenga ever since some activities were held inside Camp John Hay I could say that this years Panagbenga celebration is a success. Of course there were hiccups but what event or festival hasn’t gone through the usual problems? Anyway of course there is always room for improvement and here are the things we want to see next year:
1. Better Location for the Landscapes – believe or not the landscape competition and exhibition is one of the things that tourists and even residents regularly visit for the duration of the festival, why? Well for simple reasons that some would like to pass the time and see colorful sights while doing so, or to take their selfie with the colorful landscapes in the background. This year however taking selfies and group photos were not thoroughly enjoyed since the landscapes were located along a walkway. We really wish that the landscapes be given better location.
2. More Presentations During the Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio – this year there were lesser presentations at Melvin Jones grandstand, we certainly hope that for Panagbenga 2015 the organizers would also encourage more presentations. We certainly hope that many Baguio talents would be willing enough to showcase their talents on stage and the organizers would give them that opportunity. In addition we hope there would be better fireworks display during this whole day event, we missed the grand finale last time ( or the lack of it).
Ok there were some hiccups but of course there were also lots of things that we loved about this years Panagbenga celebration.
1. Better Floats – it would seem that participants in the float parade are actually evolving, it was the first time that i felt that all the floats are equally beautiful and all floats were better than the previous years. Some people would say the float parade was highly commercialized but our take is that if not them who would? These companies who were willing to spend man hours and not to mention a huge amount of money to build a beautiful float knowing that what they stand to win in the competition is lower than what was spent is something the residents should be thankful for.
2. Excellent Performances – all we can say to the teachers and choreographers and of course to all the participants of the Street Dancing competition is Kudos! The participants showcased an awesome presentation and were able to endure walking, running and dancing on the street from Panagbenga Park to Athletic Bowl where they will give their ultimate presentation. To the participants you have made a lot of spectators happy and glad that they woke up early to secure a place at the parade route to witness your performance.
3. Family Centered Activities – the Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio was indeed a Sunday dedicated to the family and we hope that more activities for the children and parents would be added next year.
4.Green Policy – to keep with the theme of this year’s festival the no plastic bag policy was implemented in the Market encounter and Session road in Bloom. Every entrepreneur in the Market Encounter and Session Road in Bloom used paper bags instead of plastic bags. We hope however that this policy will be implemented not only during the festival but should be an absolute policy for the City of Baguio.
Indeed we could say that the staging of the 19th Panagbenga Festival was a success. Yes some parts were commercialized but for take it from someone who has experience in organizing community events the participation of local and national private companies is essential, otherwise we would have a low budget festival that would only run for one weekend and not one month. Some people would always complain of traffic because lots of people are coming up to Baguio City, we say that’s a good thing because a lot of legitimate business are benefiting from it not to mention the fact that our tourism sector is also in bloom. For someone who was here before and after the killer earthquake of 1990 we witnessed a time when people were afraid to visit Baguio City where as if tourism died during the earthquake. Yes, we will experience traffic because of the influx of tourists but isn’t inviting the tourists one of the goals of Panagbenga when it was first staged or have we forgotten? The Panagbenga Festival was created to celebrate the rise of Baguio City from the devastation of the 1990 killer quake and indeed we in Baguio rose from the rubbles, today Baguio is known for its Festival and Cold weather and not a place of devastation, and this i believe is something we should be thankful for!
Congratulations to everybody for doing a good job and for a very successful Panagbenga 2014! Indeed you made us excited about Panagbenga 2015!
On a Final Note we would like to honor Dean Macario Fronda composer of the Tribute to the Cordilleras Baguio Flower Festival Panagbenga theme. His music will echo through many generations and celebrations of the Panagbenga Festivals.