Panagbenga becomes a template for festivals
From the beginning, the vision was not just to prop the lull in Baguio City’s tourism industry following the Yuletide holidays, but to become the springboard for other local governments to mount their own festival.
This vision, the organizers of the Panagbenga have achieved, sustained, and even expanded as organizers of old, new, and emerging festivals look up to the biggest crowd-drawing event north of Manila as a model in many aspects – government and private sector partnership, traffic and crowd control, peace and order, accreditation of media and civic organizations, hygiene and sanitation and zoning in the trade fair component of the event, regulation in advertorial placements, and community outreach among others.
In this year’s renaissance of the festival, the Panagbenga has once again proven that it too, is a stage for other festivals when contingents from Nueva Ecija, La Union, and from provinces in the Cordillera such as Mountain Province, Benguet, and Kalinga converged in the City of Pines both to perform their very own festival and showcase their rich cultural heritage, before thousands of spectators who watched live and via remote broadcast.
“The Panagbenga gave birth to other festivals and that is part of our mission-vision,” said Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) Board of Trustees Chairman for Life Mauricio Domogan.
He added that albeit it is more difficult to achieve, it is also his dream for local governments such as Benguet’s outlying towns of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay to mount their community festivals earlier than the Panagbenga so that winning participants in their parades will also be able to perform in the flower festival.
Domogan said this will reinforce the cooperation between the BLISTT communities, as he acknowledges that the success of the Panagbenga was also due to the indirect contribution of the city’s outlying towns.
BFFFI trustees also proudly said that despite the odds especially in terms of logistics, they were able to continue mounting the Panagbenga as volunteers sans the subsidy from local government. The trustees also maintain not to repeat some controversial issues levied against the group in the past, such as the collection of entrance fees.
The trustees said they would continue looking for sponsors who can help with subsidizing the needs of some participants such as the schools and landscape gardeners, rather than collect from the public.
The trustees also turned down proposals for a “battle of hall famers” as they prefer to allocate the prizes instead for the subsidy of some participants.
Panagbenga, a Kankana-ey word, which means “blossoming” staged its major comeback this year bannering the theme, “A renaissance of wonder of beauty.” – Rimaliza A. Opiña