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Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio » A Look At Our Summer In Full Color

Smiling Sun made of Flowers during Panagbenga Grand Float Parade
My favorite events, like my favorite landscape photos, tend to be full of colors - perhaps even chaotic. I like looking at loud colors, with an I-will-hypnotize-you combination, cut with the zest of complex patterns. I know, I know I have colorblindness.

I admit that sometimes I see colored things differently, and I like it!

Therefore, I ended immediately saying yes when my officemate asked me if I want to attend the famed Flower Festival in Baguio. It’s nice to have colored weekend every now and then, besides flowers have that magic that always captured the admiration of mankind, maybe because it has the power to break our monochrome life.

Speaking of flower power – all throughout the month of February, Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines, bursts out into thousand blooms.  As a tribute to Baguio’s colorful flowers, they celebrate an annual festival called Panagbenga, a Kankanaey term that means "a season of blossoming, a time for flowering"

I wanted to go and see this festival because I read lots of raving praises about it on TV, major broad sheets, social media and such. Fortunately I had the chance to attend the highlights of Panagbenga, which is the street dancing and float parade which happens every 4th Sunday of February.
Koreans in their Traditional Costume
Korean delegates on their colorful traditional costume during the Panagbenga
And much to my surprise, the Panagbenga Flower Festival proved to be a lot of fun! Although the trip is quite long and tiring, it was really a memorable weekend and I look forward to attending again next year!
Since I was there, it seemed rude not to sample the strawberry flavored taho.

Let a thousand flowers bloom

Panagbenga Grand Parade Flower Float
A flower float with pastoral setting with a grassy knoll of moss and a nipa hut surrounded by a garden of vibrant flowers.
Held in February each year, the Panagbenga Flower Festival is a welcoming treat for the glorious Philippine summer ahead.  Baguio, as the summer capital of the Philippines, invests on its cold climate as part of its tourism program and to highlight what Baguio City can offer and to showcase the ethnic Cordillera culture, they conceived Panagbenga, which started in 1995. It also symbolizes Baguio City’s optimism after the devastating 1990 Luzon earthquake.   

Ethnic Ifugao Dancers wearing Bahag
Moreover, through the festival, the Igorot ethnic culture also becomes a showcase as one of Baguio's important cultural features. Student participants garb themselves with colorful flowers while others incorporate a touch of Cordilleras in their costumes. In dance, the Bendian, an Ibaloi dance of celebration, figures among many other performances.

Parade and street dancing, flower floats and marching bands, ukay-ukay and market encounter, bazaars, trade fair and concerts are some of the festival activities.

The Marching Bands: Bring on the magic! 

Girl in colorful Mexican inspired costume
As the first hint of the Philippine flag carried by the robotic PMA cadets came into view, the sound of the crashing cymbals and drums beating in cadence filled the air. My heart begins to race as marching bands approaches in a parade.

This kind of excitement and colorful revelries are things that make Philippine fiestas and festivals truly unique. I think we are always inspired by marching bands and that they have that positive effect on us.

However, as always expected, there are politicians joining the parade waving and pretending to recognize constituents in the sidewalks.
Men In Black Panagbenga Marching Band
The Sunflower Marching Band

The marching bands continuously played lively tunes all throughout the parade that set the jovial mood for the event and brings magic to the whole spectacle. 
St. Louis University Marching Band
 The Girl in Flute
 Mexican Inspired Marching Band
 Colorful Ethnic Majorettes

The Street Dancers: Infusing Culture through colors and movement

When Panagbenga was designed in 1995, one of its goals was to show the Cordillera and Ifugao’s culture to the world.

Hence, as drums rolled in staccato beat and mountain chants and songs reverberated in the cold air, women in their woven wrap-around tapis carrying harvest baskets together with groups of men in G-strings or bahag danced away their ethnic dance steps, euphoric like a bee charmed by blazing sunflowers.  

Ifugao Ethnic dancers during Panagbenga
Street dancers in G-strings

Children street dancers

Salakot inspired Street Dancers

Colorful Nipa street dancers

Indian Inspired Costume street dancing
White People on the Street Dancing

The Flower Floats: Artistry behind Panagbenga 

Sunday came, which after the street dance euphoria, we woke up early, head to the main street and stationed ourselves on the sidewalks for a good view of the grand float floral parade.
Dragon Inspired Flower Float Panagbenga
SM wowed the audience with its dragon creation in a posture of movement, all done with scales of yellow mums and red petals.
They say this Grand Floral Float Parade is the main thrills offered by Panagbenga. We are lured to watch the sheer beauty of the decorated floats made of fresh flowers, together with tens of thousands of people lining the sidewalks and I must say it was like being inside a fairy tale for a few hours.
Angry Birds Inspired Flower Float
Baguio City, in step with the times, designed “Angry Birds” from tiny flowers and built a bridge of everlasting flowers.
I also noticed that the parade also showcased floats from other regions in the Philippines, such as Batangas, Las Piñas and Quezon province which makes it more colorful. 
Big belly Dragon Flower Float
This is the metamorphosis of this main street in Baguio, and it really took my imagination as far as it can go.
Miss Philippines Flower Float

Parade of Roses
Welcoming summer in full color 

What an awesome way to welcome summer! It was a great weekend where flowers painted my days like a quick dream.

I remember the flowers. I remember the pine trees. I remember the irresistible fragrance of the city that is inhabited by some of the warmest people in the Philippines. I remember the colors and the music and the marching bands…

This is what I will remember all throughout summer. Enchanted.

Well, just wake me up when the summer ends…

» Caluza, Desiree. "Panagbenga is symbol of rise of Baguio, says Tourism chief." Inquirer Northern Luzon. Inquirer News. Monday, February 27th, 2012
» Liporada, Isagani S.“From Flower To Bouquet: A History Of The Panagbenga” [Retrieved: 08 March 2012]
» Panagbenga Festival. Wikipedia Entry [08 March 2012]
» All photos are from the author's mobile phone shots (Samsung Galaxy S)

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