June 20, 2024

The special edition of this year’s Panagbenga Festival, which formally opened last March 6 in a simple yet reviving fashion, is being seen to usher rebuilding efforts and recovery of the local economy interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic for two years, via the tourism industry throughout the city and eventually in the entire Cordillera.
The Panagbenga 2022 sailed through with the theme “Let hope bloom,” led by organizer Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. in cooperation with the city government and stakeholders with “strong courage” and optimism, yet with a huge responsibility.
In the absence of the highly-anticipated grand street dancing and float parade, the cultural committee of the BFFFI produced and presented a Cordilleran dance that aimed to encourage the public to continue in spite of the loss of life, closing of borders that led people to turn inward to protect lives and livelihood, and the many challenges brought by the pandemic.
The music and dance steps, performed by the Center for Culture and the Arts of Saint Louis University during the opening ceremony at the Melvin Jones football field, also sought to remind that through strength and wisdom, everything can be conquered as a community.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the commitment of BFFFI executive committee led by Anthony de Leon and the rest of the tourism planners and partners to restart the annual celebration “meant a lot in telling the world that Baguio is ready and well equipped to offer the flower festival as a jump-off point to revitalize the tourism industry.”
“Let Panagbenga live through these challenging times and launch us into the new normal. Let Panagbenga showcase the renewed spirit of Baguio’s tourism stakeholders to bounce back strong even under sobering conditions. Let everyone see how we can overcome, recover, and manage any challenge,” Magalong said.
Former mayor and congressman Mauricio Domogan, BFFFI Board of Trustees chairperson, said while festival activities have been scaled down and without the usual financial support and sponsorships for this year, he said the BFFFI is still doing its best to continue the festival.
“I am sure we will sustain the festival even with the few sources of income like we had in the past years, and we will soon recover from whatever sacrifices we have to make and suffer from,” Domogan said.
Department of Tourism-Cordillera Director Jovy Ganongan recognizes Baguio’s strong courage to be the first to have a face-to-face festival.
And for pioneering many things in the city, she encouraged its people to help tourism recover and for the community to enjoy camaraderie and celebrate resiliency.
Ganongan added the reopening of the Panagbenga encourages confidence not just among tourists but also for other local government units banking on tourism to do the same albeit safely and responsibly.
“It is actually giving the signal for others to reopen. Na kailangan na sigurong kumilos na dahil ang mga tourism workers and stakeholders natin, two years nang nag-sacrifice. So it’s really high time to rebuild tourism, but we also need to be responsible in our reopening,” Ganongan said.
As the city moves forward to a better normal, Rep. Mark Go, for his part, has encouraged the constituents to learn from the unfortunate events and take with them good ones, including their love and excitement toward their festival.
“After a two-year hiatus, we are to experience again the elevated creativity rich history and tradition as well as the esteemed values for which our dear city and its people are known, albeit in a special edition. Let us remember that Panagbenga is a season primarily, if not solely dedicated to us the people of Baguio. It is a time to showcase our talents our places and our richness. Without a doubt, Panagbenga has continuously grown bigger and better through the years. Not even the pandemic could deface the milestones it had reached,” Go said.
Domogan, also BFFFI’s chairman for life, summed up this year’s theme and the season of blooming Baguio has been known for: “As flowers give off and exude its natural and enchanting fragrance and aroma when broken into pieces and crushed; as flowers are transformed and converted into medicines when exposed to extreme heat, dried, and pulverized, may the rest of us also emerge and be revealed even when crushing hardships and pulverizing adversities lie before us.
And as one flower cannot make Panagbenga, may we also be reminded that no single individual, no lone wolf, no lone ranger, no superman can do it all for us as we struggle to recover to bounce back stronger and rise again.
I believe that is the essence of our gathering today – to remind us that if we continue to pray together, to dream together, to hope together, and to work together in the spirit of unity, teamwork and camaraderie, no calamity, no disaster, no catastrophe must be so gargantuan that we cannot fight, subdue, and overcome.
And as our theme imparts, let hope bloom indeed. Let us not be discouraged, let us not be disheartened. Let the banner of hope fly high. Let hope bloom for there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and a rainbow after the rain. Together we shall overcome, we shall rise again, we shall bloom again. We have done it before and together we shall do it again.” – Hanna C. Lacsamana