IN PHOTOS: Stunning floats in full bloom at Panagbenga 2016
Thousands flocked to Baguio’s streets today from DILG Baguio to the Athletic Bowl to witness the Panagbenga 2016 Grand Float Parade. Arguably the most watched, most anticipated event in the month-long festival, the event comes after the Street Dance Parade and before Session In Bloom where Session Road is closed and food and local product stalls are set up for a week. The Grand Float Parade features mobile installations of flowers, mirroring the “blooming season.” (READ: IN PHOTOS: Panagbenga Festival 2016 street dance parade)
This year’s floats seem to have stepped out of storybooks and fictional pages, all thanks to and in line with the theme, “Bless the Children with Flowers.”
Six companies and groups competed in the Small Float Competition, and thirteen in the Big Float Category. Four floats, those of Jeepito, the City Government of Baguio, Baguio Country Club, and SM Baguio, were not in competition.
We compiled our favorite scenes and surprises from the parade.
The kids. At the rear of the float of the City Government of Baguio is a board where kids wrote their names and thoughts. Despite the theme, children have always been in the center of activities in the Panagbenga, and rightfully so for being in their “blooming” years. “Children are honest,” Anabelle Rubino of the City Government said. “That’s one thing we can learn from them.”
Winners in the Street Dance and Drum and Lyre Competitions performed in between the floats, including the University of Luzon and Saint Louis University Marching Bands.
Bed of roses (and mums and others, too.). Tons of flowers were used to create the flamboyant, breathtaking floats, and these are selected, some dyed, and set up for weeks before the parade. Most prominent flowers in all the floats are roses, chrysanthemums, anthuriums, mumps, dendrobiums, and astroemerias.
Romeo Chua, the designer of the floats for Baguio Country Club (BCC) which is a Hall of Fame Winner and has been joining the Float Parade with non-competing floats since, said their floats, which portray characters and settings from animated and children’s films, take weeks and heaps of flowers to complete. Their portrayal this year of Maleficent, took 3 weeks to complete, and the flowers they used include liliums, stargazers, and casablanca lilies.
Plot twists and characters. Aside from BCC’s Maleficent interpretation, the other participating floats had amusing and interesting themes, too. ABS-CBN paid tribute to the police force, the “frontliners in ensuring capacity, safety, and order in the community,” shares Janice Abrogar-Guarin, ABS-CBN Events Officer. Mang Juan’s float celebrates the Filipino closeness of kin, while SM’s float featured a castle and cute, little royalties.
Education is the focus of Sitel’s float. As one of Baguio’s leading customer experience management service provider, their float boasts about burning the midnight oil to study. Owls, nocturnal animals, make conspicuous characters in their float.
The Manor Camp John Hay did not disappoint with their Baymax theme. Baymax is portrayed as a friendly robot off to collect flowers in Baguio to be distributed to the many countries of the world. One can interpret the flowers as the children of Baguio who are the biggest resources of the country for the world to see.
Jeepito. Plated WPA 817, the jeepito is considered the smallest jeepney in the world, and dubbed by media as the most popular ride in the country today. Accommodating only four passengers, including the driver, this petite mobile has been making rounds in popular media – in Eat Bulaga!, ASAP, Unang Hirit and other shows. A show called Trip ni Jeepito is on YouTube, hosted by the operators of the jeepito: Papa Tsuper, Carlito Romantiko, and Lester the Pester.
Moves and beats. In between the floats, winners from 2016 Street Dance and Drum and Lyre Competition winners performed their winning routines. Laoag’s Pamulinawen Performing Group which topped this year’s street dance competition amazed the crowd with their choreography portraying the traditional fishing practice with rattan baskets and nets.
Mabini Elementary School, Baguio Central School, and Josefa Cariño Elementary School, Top Three in the Elementary Category, entertained the huge crowds with their enticing covers of popular and local tunes.
Butterflies and all things merry. Coca-Cola Philippines’ float is filled with love—and sweet forever. Their float featured a very red façade made of roses and anthuriums, perfect for the February season. As their float progressed, butterflies drifted from their float to others and to the crowd. Jollibee revamped their train of creativity float last year to a children’s carriage now. M. Lhuillier showed displayed a fusion of elements: a plane for air, dolphins for the water, and the flowers of the land.
Celebrity sightings. The “Carrot man” no-show disappointed many in the audience, but celebrities gracing the event seemed to make up for it. Asi Taulava and a cheerleading squad entertained the audience with the NLEX float. Melisa “Melai” Cantiveros and Jason Francisco, riding the plane in the M. Lhuillier float, playacted to the audience’s glee. Maris Racal and Manolo Pedrosa of Pinoy Big Brother fame melted the hearts of the locals and tourists while riding the 7-11 float.
The crowd went wild when Coco Martin, Maja Salvador, Simon Pineda (“Onyok”) and Pepe Herrera (“Benny”), literally jumping off the fence to get near them and to take pictures.
Were you there at Panagbenga 2016? Share your favorite moments with us in the comments below. – Rappler.com
Ivan Jim Layugan is a writer based in Baguio City. He teaches literature and public speaking at the University of Baguio