June 17, 2024

On March 6, Baguio City saw the opening of this year’s version of the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga, a yearly festival that celebrates the blooming of flowers and the harvesting of vegetables which are aplenty in the localities.
The yearly celebration of the Panagbenga had become so successful that it is a calendared national activity. It is being patronized by local and foreign tourists that every time it is inaugurated, they flock to the city to witness the grandeur of the event.
As the Panagbenga progresses, so do the economy and the reputation of the city as the country’s Summer Capital prospers. It is, therefore, unthinkable that there will be no Panagbenga. Missing the event is like missing a close relative.
Nevertheless, for two years, the Panagbenga was not celebrated due to Covid-19. For fear that it might be an avenue to spread the virus, the flower festival was shelved to the dismay of its patrons. Yet, if only to allow the continuity of the event, attempts were made at the height of the pandemic to hold a virtual flower festival but, this proved to be unproductive.
A virtual flower festival was shunned because it does not have the same appeal as an actual flower festival. So, nothing came up. The health and the safety of the people became the primordial consideration.
With the decreasing number of people being afflicted with the coronavirus, the city government deemed it best to have a Panagbenga this year. A sound decision. Although this year’s version is not as pompous and as festive as the previous years, it is significant in many ways.
This year’s version of the flower festival highlights the triumph of the city against the pandemic. It espouses the resiliency of the Filipinos to overcome whatever tragedy that may beset them, in the past or in the future. It restores a semblance of normalcy to a battered people who have to bear the brunt of the contagion. It is a ray of light in an otherwise overcast sky. It brought smiles and alleviated the mental health of residents.
More than flowers for which the festival is named, is the unifying effect of the Panagbenga, especially this year. In agreeing to celebrate it, we confirm the essence of our own existence. It is a demonstration of our appreciation of what nature has to offer. For a fleeting moment, we can talk about something else other than Covid. What makes this year’s celebration significant is it proves that together, we can hold our own against any adversary or adversity.
Indeed, the celebration of the Panagbenga this year is a welcome relief. It destresses all of us and makes us glad that we are still alive.
Long live the Panagbenga.