December 5, 2023
ART OF BLOOMING — Talek and Sam-ang (not in photo) and their mother Laarni, who had the chance to cover as a journalist the first ever Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio of the Panagbenga in 1996, joined for the first time the family category of the annual open painting competition dubbed this year as “Art of Blooming”. Talek in collaboration with Sam-ang chose the gecko or lizard as his subject, which is depicted as guardian of the world and a sacred creation in the Cordillera. — Contributed photo

On Feb. 12, individuals, families, and people from all walks of life once again came together at the Melvin Jones football grounds in Burnham Park to participate in the Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio (Handog), a staple feature in the annual festival’s calendar of activities that reflects Baguio’s coming together as a community to celebrate the season of blooming.
Aside from the major crowd-drawing activities, the Handog is one of the festival’s main activities that have been held without fail every year since Panagbenga’s inception 27 years ago, and to date has been achieving its goal of bringing the community together through wholesome and family-oriented activities.
As in the past years except in the three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Handog for the 27th Panagbenga edition with the theme “Renaissance of Wonder of Beauty” offered the Panagbenga Kite-flying Challenge, Cultural Show, Fitness Frenzy, as well as the “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: An Open Painting Competition”.
Brothers Sam-ang and Talek Ilagan and their mom, Laarni, were among those who joined the painting activity also dubbed as the “Art of Blooming” in keeping with Baguio’s designation as Unesco Creative City for crafts and folk art in 2017.
Laarni, who used to be a journalist who was able to cover the first ever rendition of the Handog ng Panagbenga during the festival’s launching in 1997, shared they consider the activity as a fun and fruitful way of spending time with the family.
It also supports younger Talek’s interest in painting artworks, some of which have been featured in various exhibits in Camp John Hay and overseas by the Autism Hearts Foundation, a group which promotes art as a form of therapy and a springboard for self-sufficiency of individuals in the autism spectrum, of which Talek is a member.
For this year’s Handog, Talek painted his favorite subject, the noble gecko or lizard, which according to Laarni is depicted as the guardian of the world and for being a sacred animal in the Cordillera that is constantly featured by the Itnegs in their woven fabrics and designs in Abra where Laarni traces her roots, and also in Ifugao.
Talek included a round object in the painting, which represented the “world” and which for the Ilagan family symbolizes eternity.
Inspite of the strong wind and sunlight which made painting on canvas in open air a bit challenging, Laarni said joining the Handog ng Panabenga painting contest was a fun activity for her family, and they intend to join the same in the future if given the opportunity.
“As someone who used to write story about Panagbenga and cover its activities, this chance is definitely enjoyable as it comes full circle and fulfilling for us. We encourage everybody to participate in this wholesome activity,” Laarni said.
The Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom open painting contest was sponsored by Davies Paints, among others, which provided the paints, canvases, and other painting materials used by the participants for free. – Hanna C. Lacsamana