Issue of March 4, 2018
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Social media boosts Panagbenga viewers
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

PANAGBENGA 2018 SHOWDOWN -- No other festival in Luzon could match the number of spectators who watched the parade of flower bedecked floats that makes the Panagbenga Festival a very distinct event in the country. Master Siomai and Maybank topped this year’s grand float competition for winning the big and small float categories, respectively. -- Harley Palangchao/Ofelia Empian

Baguio’s season of blossoming has thrived in the digital era, considered the millennials’ preferred mode of communication and source of information that allowed its main events to be watched not only in the country this time but around the world.

The reach of the two usually crowd-drawing highlights of the Panagbenga Festival has gotten even wider in the 23rd rendition of the grand street dance and float parades last weekend, courtesy of live coverage and online streaming.

Based on the global viewership data furnished by the Baguio office of cable and Internet provider SkyCable, the Feb. 24 street dancing parade earned 273,000 views, 4,300 shares, and 6,574 likes; and the grand float parade on Feb. 25 got 269,000 views, 3,000 shares, 4,600 likes.

The Internet provider as well recorded Panagbenga as the highest so far in festival coverage with half a million views, beating Cebu’s Sinulog Festival at 178,000 views.

SkyCable reaches as far as Austria; The Netherlands; Australia; England; Lebanon; Sweden; Hong Kong; Israel; Russia; Hawaii, U.S.A; New Mexico, U.S.A.; Guam, U.S.A; China, Houston, Texas, U.S.A; South Korea, New Jersey, U.S.A; New Zealand, Iraq; Canada; and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The figures do not include those whose own live streaming using social media platforms were viewed, liked, and shared using other Internet subscriptions; and also excluding those who witnessed the two-day highlights in person.

Aside from that, many individuals have requested and willing to purchase video copies of the parades on compact discs, aside from expressing interest for photos of the 24 floats that joined the parade, according to Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

Councilor Elmer Datuin, chair of this year’s Baguio Flower Festival executive committee, said the success of the main events was achieved due to the cooperation of stakeholders.

“Our audience now is not only those in the City of Baguio but also from around the world. The impressions were generally positive,” Datuin said.

This year’s honored guest, Department of Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo, who witnessed the Panagbenga for the first time, said it is the best festival she attended among all the festivals in the country. She noted the orderliness, cleanliness, and discipline in the organization of the events.

The Baguio City Police Office said though traffic was still experienced, it was no longer as bad as last year.

S/Insp. Oliver Panabang of the BCPO Traffic Enforcement Unit said compared last year, they de-clogged choke points easier this year as they stuck to their operational plan for areas that needed control points, so they did not have major problems in controlling the traffic-prone areas. He said traffic advisories, which included encouraging tourists to commute in going to Baguio instead of bringing their vehicles or to just walk or use public transport within the city, helped in reducing vehicular traffic around the parade routes.

While impressions were generally positive, comments included criticisms when some national politicians were allowed to join and interact with the audience during the street dancing parade, and given a part in the program at Athletic Bowl, despite a policy that they should not participate in the parade to avoid making the event as venue for campaigning. 

Waste disposal also remained a problem as garbage were left scattered by spectators who stayed in the parade routes despite repeated advisories not to leave their litter behind.

Domogan said discipline among tourists remains a problem, while he assured that garbage were not left piling up in the areas for a long time due to the assistance of the reinforced city streets sweepers and volunteers who saw to it that the garbage were collected and properly disposed of.

With the volume of people who stayed in the performance areas, the City Environment and Parks Management Office also reported some plants in the parks were destroyed but these were either immediately taken care of or allowed for natural re-growth.

Anthony de Leon, who was in charge of the conduct of the parades and a member of the executive committee, said the entire festival is always a work in progress and a continuous learning process. “It’s not perfect, but whatever mistakes we observed every year we learned from them, carry on, and hopefully it will not happen again. This is what we try to achieve so that it becomes friendlier to our visitors and to the Baguio community,” he said, as organizers contemplate further levelled up Panagbenga when it marks its silver anniversary in two years.

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