So the Panagbenga 2014 opened last February 1 and the opening is celebrated with a parade. This also signals the start of the Landscape Exhibition and Contest as well as the Market Encounter. Whether the latter is a “tiangge” by definition, we leave that up to the lawmakers to decide, but after a tug of war debate on whether to push through with the market encounter, clearly we know who won. So, we got a chance to visit the landscape competition and the market encounter and here are our thoughts.
Unlike last year, the location of the Landscape Exhibition and the Market Encounter is now at the Lake Drive, the road in between the Burnham lake and the Melvin Jones. Last year the Landscape Exhibition was at the grounds surrounding the Skating Rink and the Market Encounter was at one side of the biking area.
The Landscape Exhibition
Unfortunately, the present location of the Landscape Exhibit is in our opinion not suitable. Here’s why, it is located at the side walk adjacent to Melvin Jones and in front of the exhibits is the market encounter. There is a small space in between the landscapes and the market encounter stalls which is of course uses as walkway. One of the reasons why people visit the landscapes is to appreciate the landscapes that were painstakingly done by the landscapers, with such a limited space the people could not even take a decent selfie or let alone take time to appreciate the landscape, since the space for the people is a walkway you have to move or you will hold the traffic. Second, with that limited space given to landscapers it seems that they cannot showcase their creativity as they have to work only with what they have, last year we appreciated the carpet of flowers, this year however it’s kinda disappointing.
We applaud the landscapers for still making something beautiful but we believe their talents and landscaping skills were curtailed with that limited space and unsuitable location. As a Baguio born and raised resident and avid Panagbenga spectator this must have been a disappointing landscape exhibition, not because of the current designs but more on the fact that we have limited time in appreciating the landscapes.
The Market Encounter
For the Market encounter which is also located at the lake drive, well on a positive note this looked more organized as compared to the previous ones, also there is a little bit more room to walk around. However, it does not present anything unique from last year. Still there are two things you can do at the Market encounter, shop and eat. You can shop for souvenirs, juicers, shoes, clothes and SIM cards from a telco and have your photo taken at their photobooth, same thing we saw last year. As for eating, you do not have much choice. There is an inside joke among Baguio residents that Panagbenga is actually the season of Shawarma. There is a good reason for saying that, at the market encounter alone, we encountered 8 shawarma stalls (counting one from Solibao). Other choices include footlongs, yellow corn (hope not GMO), siomai and other food stalls we have yet to identify.
Well the market encounter is definitely a place to visit once just to have the feel of it but after you walked that road you wouldn’t want to return, you have seen it once, you’ve seen it all, unless of course there is something you want to buy within the duration of the market encounter or if you are fond of eating shawarma, but we definitely recommend not spending much of your time in this area especially so that there are other worthwhile destinations in Baguio City.