April 24, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana

BEAUTY OF DIVERSITY — Chowking’s float, which was declared champion in the medium category of the Panagbenga 2024 grand float parade, showcased intricate Chinese decorations and highlighted the beauty of diversity and stabi-lity. — Kassy Yana Pasiwen

Although it has been a “slow climb” to the pre-pandemic levels in terms of audience, the two highlights of the Panagbenga 2024 have been assessed to have exceeded expectations in terms of quality of the performances during the grand street dance parade on Feb. 24 and float presentations during the grand float parade on Feb. 25.

Smaller crowds lined up the parade route starting from the top of Session Road up to Melvin Jones football grounds, but the performances of the 25 street dance contingents coupled with vibrant colors and familiar notes of the Panagbenga hymn had once again brought the streets to life and relived the spirit of the much awaited festival as it lived up to this year’s theme of “Celebrating traditions and embracing innovations.”

The grand float parade on the other hand had set a record number of participants, with 33 stunning flower-bedecked floats captured in still shots and memories of the audiences, residents, tourists, and visitors alike.

“What is amazing and inspiring is the quality and beauty of the floats, which is the one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turnout in the entire history of the flower festival. Even the quality of the grand street dancing performances portrayed innovation, which achieved the theme,” Baguio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc. (BFFFI) Chairperson, Atty. Mauricio Domogan said.

With people still recovering from the pandemic, BFFFI Executive Chair Anthony de Leon said the number of crowds who had joined the two festival highlights was a slow climb to the pre-pandemic levels, they are hoping by next year more visitors will be able to come to Baguio to witness and partake with the festival activities.

“At the same time, it also gives the city enough time to plan for accommodating bigger numbers, but I think we were good. We have put on a great show. The community placed its best foot forward and there were lots of participants, in fact more than what we had expected in terms of the cultural presentation and floats as well in the market encounter, Session Road in Bloom, and landscaping competition,” de Leon said.

He said in the grand float parade, participants used to average 15 entries, and therefore this year’s 33 floats is historic as it had never happened in the past editions of the festival.

De Leon said for the other traditional activities, namely the Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter, the level of interest to join and the actual number of booths that participated also more than doubled, which means the confidence of sectors joining the festival is very high, and an international festival at that, with Panagbenga being the only festival in the country accredited by the International Festivals and Events Association and one of the main reasons the city was designated as a Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Art.

He added with a sense of community, the foundation will always do what it can to innovate to come up with new ideas to further improve the festival.

For the competitions, winners in the drum and lyre category are the Lucban Elementary School, champion; Tuba Central School, second place; and Ma-nuel Roxas ES, third place.

A special award for Innovation in Musical Arrangement was given to Lucban ES and the Tuba Central ES clinched the special award for Excellence in Drum and Lyre Dance Costumes and Choreography.

The Tribu Rizal is champion on the festival dance category, followed by Narvacan Naisangsangayan and the Baguio City National High School-Special Program for the Arts in second and third places, respectively.

The special awards for Innovation in Musical Arrangement, as well as for Excellence in Festival Dance Costume and Festival Dance Choreography were given to Tribu Rizal. 

In the grand float parade, the first and second places in the small float category were both awarded to Zaparita Garden.

For the medium float category, the top three winners are Chowking, P&G/Youthopia, and KFC in that order. Solid North topped the large float category followed by Jollibee and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority in second and third places, respectively.