At last, after four days of staying up in the City of Pines, I’m back to reality. So much for that weekend of rest and recreation which eventually turned out into a blast since I was able to witness the Baguio Flower Festival, popularly known as Panagbenga, for the second time around.
Generally, from a tourist’s (and soon-to-be permanent Baguio resident) perspective, this year’s staging is a smash hit, if it were a movie. Box-office. This is partly because it’s handled by a single organizer (unlike last year where it even had two float parades, WTF) and that the organizer ensured the successful participation of the people, locals or visitors alike. In fact, the past weekend the city was overflowing ith tourists from all walks of life and from all over the country as they got a glimpse of the Cordillera combination of Mardi Gras and the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.
The highlight included the return of the Street Dancing Competition among schools and universities which showcased the uniqueness of Cordi culture (this was set aside last year due to the divided nature of the celebrations) and the participants were simply impressive. Though I thought I didn’t get the best seat in the house on that day (I wasn’t at front of the pack), I was able to get some excellent shots of the occassion
The second highight of the festivities was the float parade in which it showcased the ingenuity of the Cordillerans in this part of town as well as showcased floats which were 80% made up of roses, one of Baguio City’s finest products. The floats are beautiful, and the organizers didn’t fail the crowd (including myself) with the impressive floats (though these represent companies, hence the commercial nature of the fest which is the subject of criticism from different Baguio sectors). As added attraction, performances from the PMA Marching Band (they deserve the Hall of Fame from Mr. Bangaoet and the organizers too, for putting up spectacular performances yearly which definitely wow the crowd) and some artist appearances (notably sexy stars Ara Mina and Francine Prieto) provided some delight to those who did sweat out staying on queue during the two-and-a-half-hour program.
But what irked me to the fullest was that some politicians used the festival to campaign for the forthcoming elections, since this is an affront at the very essence of the festivities. They have been the subject of the Baguio people’s scorn for the past few days. (I so read that the organizers at first refused to allow them in the parade but backed down since they’d treat the candidates as guests anyway, provided that they won’t use it for campaigning and would be treated like any other float exhibitor). But…here they were, they even used different gimmicks from riding on a flowered-decked float of their own to even having one of the senatoriables ride a horse! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
But the Panagbenga fever doesn’t stop on the float parade itself, just like what Manileños would think (they departed in droves the afternoon after the parade). The week-long Pan-aaspulan (Session Road in Bloom) kicked off last Monday, cloosing session Road to vehicular traffic for a week. Here, different trade booths were set up showcasing Baguio and Cordillera produce, from antiques, handicrafts as well as some lowland stuff including basic necessities including Marikina shoes, and food from Baguio establishments (in fact it transformed the road into a street cafe’) and is sure that it would even surprass the flower festival in terms of people participation.
In the overall, it was a perfect escape from the pressures of work and my impending burn-out as well. It was really a blast. Made me think about permanently settling there before the year ends.
Now, it’s back to regular programming for me. Time to face the crossroads.
And oh it’s the third moth of the year now…and just four days to go before the day I financially dread…