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Baguio's Penagbenga - Philippines Travel
February may be one of the chilliest months of the year, but in Baguio a warm welcome awaits visitors trooping from all over for the annual Flower Festival, the month-long celebration that has been the city’s showcase for more than a decade now.
The festival boasts several new attractions as well as marking the first time that the city government will be taking over from the private sector in organizing the entire affair. Crowds of tourists are always expected to flock to this part of country which has drawn tourists from local and abroad. The Flower Festival in Baguio has been compared to the more popular Annual Parade of Roses in California.
Americans who have witnessed our local version have been unanimous that Panagbenga can rival their own. Such words of appreciation are music to the ears of Filipinos who are fast recognizing the relevance of festivals to showcase out unique culture. Who knows, Panagbenga may soon be an internationally-recognized event which can again put Philippines on the global tourist map.
“Panagbenga,” was the brainchild of lawyer Damaso Bangaoet, Jr., executive vice-president of the John Hay-Poro Point Development Corporation. It derives from the Igorot word meaning “season of blossoming” or blooming, a very apt title considering Baguio’s reputation as a city known for its flowers.
Under Bangaoet, with support from the city government, prime movers the Bases Conversion Development Authority, Camp John Hay Development Corporation and various civic groups, the program flourished and thrived for several years until the turnover of leadership to Mayor Bernardo Vergara.
Several events are held in venues all over the city, including the main thoroughfare Session Road, Burnham Park and Camp John Hay. The Athletic Bowl will be the site of the opening ceremonies, which also serves as the pre-judging event of group contestants in the Floral Street Dancing and parade.
At the same time, the program will also be a tribute to Macario Fronda, the retired educator and composer of the “Panagbenga” theme, with its musical combination of Igorot rhythms and band-instrument sound.
The 29-day Market Encounter will also open on the same day at Burnham’s football grounds. Locals and visitors alike will have a field day taking in the various flower arrangements and landscaping competition entries on display, or take a pick from stalls of floral and ethnic-designed goods for sale, aside from other products. Contests in landscaping and flower arranging by schools, barangays and business establishments will be held for judging during the awards ceremony, to be included in the closing program.