BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The City of Pines was treated to quite the view at the 2017 Grand Float Parade of the Panagbenga Festival as floral floats filed through Session Road on Sunday, February 26. ([IN PHOTOS] Nurturing nature: Panagbenga 2017 street dance parade)
Strategically scheduled just after the Grand Street Dance Parade and before the food stalls and specialty shops are installed for the Session in Bloom, the Grand Float Parade is arguably the most watched, most awaited part of the whole festival.
Twenty-two floats marched from the DILG building below SM Baguio down to the Athletic Bowl. Nine entries competed in the Small Float Category, and 10 in the Big Float Category. The City Government and past years’ big winners, Baguio Country Club and SM City Baguio, led the parade.
Tons of flowers were used to build the floats which are judged based on creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, presentation, and dramatic impact. The flowers used can be dyed, but artificial materials including the wheels must not be visible, making the creation of such floats challenging and thus masterful.
Angel dela Merced, the designer of Bioderm’s float, shared that their inspiration this year is Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. “It’s safe to say that the float took us a year to finish,” he shared, due to their installation of seemingly breathing animals. Coca-Cola’s float, similar to last year, is a bed of roses.
Daisies, roses, Malaysian mums, orchids, chrysanthemums, Alstroemeria flowers and sphagnum moss were prominent in the parade. The everlasting, a Baguio-exclusive flower, is common to many floats, too.
Culture in colors
Part of designing the floats is envisioning how Baguio culture and traditions can be integrated to it. John Kimo, designer of Manila North Tollways Corporation’s floats since 2006, came up with a float themed “Beauty in the Wild”—taming fierce elements by rendering it in floral colors. Jollibee, true to its “Bida ang Saya” ad, fused childhood excitement with environmental awareness.
Karen Navarrete-Anton, dancer-teacher of Baguio Metamorphosis, gushes about how this year differed from past Panagbenga events. “It gets better, and there’s always something new,” she said. “I am confident to say that we are at the top when it comes to festivals, and we are true to the cultures of Baguio.”
“The Grand Float Parade is one of the things I look forward to every Panagbenga,” Iman Flores, a tourist from Manila who have been frequenting the city every Panagbenga for the past 5 years, shares. “The floats are fun, colorful, creative, and I know much effort was put into them. I am also delighted to see that many participated in the parade, and many people watched it.”
Compared to yesterday’s crowd, today’s spectators seemed to swell even more. It may be attributed to the celebrities expected to flank the floats. Bea Alonzo and Enchong Dee rode a carriage in the ABS-CBN float—reminiscent of an iconic scene in the teleserye A Love to Last, in which they currently star. (IN PHOTOS: Stars at Panagbenga Festival 2017)
Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, dubbed AlDub, of GMA Network sat in a gazebo in the center of their float covered with white and pink rose petals. Basketball player Asi Taulava walked with the Manila North Tollways Corporation float. Jeyrick Sigmaton, known popularly as Carrot Man, and Jericho Rosales, also graced the event, much to the delight of fans. Miss International 2017 Baguio girl Kylie Verzosa took selfies with fans’ phones in the Tropicana float.
This year’s Panagbenga Closing Ceremonies and Awarding will be held at the Melvin Jones Grandstand on March 5. – with a report from Mau Victa/Rappler.com
Ivan Jim Layugan is a writer based in Baguio City. He teaches literature and public speaking at the University of Baguio