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BAGUIO, Philippines – Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival, returning for its 28th year, began on Thursday, February 1, with a month-long landscape and local floral display at the city’s famous Burnham Park.
The festival, which will run until March 3, aims to blend Baguio’s heritage with contemporary elements. Its theme is “Celebrating tradition, embracing innovation” in Baguio.
Panagbenga, meaning “season of blooming,” was conceived in 1995 by a group led by lawyer Damaso Bangaoet Jr. of the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation (JPDC). It was envisioned as a community festival, tapping into various sectors for support and ideas. Over the years, the festival has grown, becoming a symbol of Baguio’s community spirit.
Former Baguio mayor and representative Mauricio Domogan, chairman emeritus of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Incorporated (BFFFI), said on Wednesday, January 31, that organizers were focusing on giving the city’s cultural tradition and new developments the spotlight.
The group also aims to give Baguio tourism a boost during the month-long festival, said Anthony de Leon, BFFFI executive committee chairperson.
De Leon said organizers were anticipating politicians to come and grace the festival but would enforce a strict policy against campaigning “to keep the festival’s cultural focus intact.”
The just-started “Panagbengascapes and Baguio Blooms” display at Burnham Park, which will also be until March 3, comes ahead of a grand civil parade on Saturday, February 3. The parade will officially mark the start of the month-long festival.
The other events scheduled during the Panagbenga Festival include the following:
- Spring Festival and Kite Flying Challenge on Session Road and at Burnham Park, respectively, on February 10-11
- Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alumni Homecoming on February 15-17
- Fluvial Parade and Cultural Dance Competition on February 8
- Grand Street Dance and Floral Float Parades on February 24-25
- “Session Road in Bloom” when Baguio’s main street transforms into a strictly pedestrian zone for festivities from February 26 to March 3
- Flower Tee Golf Classic on March 1-2
- Fireworks display to conclude the month-long celebration on March 3
Organizers moved the opening parade to Saturday to avoid disrupting classes, according to BFFFI President Frederico Alquiros. “We must support our community’s educational institutions while hosting this grand event,” he said.
Rebecca Nulud, chairperson of the committee organizing the Panagbenga dance competitions, said they have included stationary performances during the parade to showcase Baguio’s culture in a dynamic, yet organized way.
“We’re providing substantial subsidies and promotional opportunities for our professional landscapers and artisans. It’s about celebrating and elevating local talent,” Evangeline Payno, BFFFI chief of staff, said.
Meanwhile, Colonel Francisco Bulwayan Jr., Baguio’s police chief, said they have stepped up security measures throughout the city ahead of the official opening day of the festival this Saturday. – Rappler.com