On Feb. 1, the City of Baguio opened the Panagbenga Festival. The opening was greeted by a parade involving a long line of students dancing on the street.
Due to this, the main thoroughfares were closed for almost half a day causing a traffic jam. Notwithstanding that the opening of the Baguio Flower Festival was on a Wednesday, it was quite apparent that there were a considerable number of tourists and out-of-towners who were present to witness the opening. It was just the first of many activities lined for the festival and already, the city is crowded with people and cars. What more for the more meaningful and enjoyable part of the program?
Since its inception as a simple parade, the flower festival has evolved into a month-long celebration with many of its activities necessitating the closure of roads. For instance, the Session Road in Bloom is a one week activity where from top to bottom, Session Road is closed to traffic. It is the same with the street dancing and the float parade where everything in Baguio City stands still.
In addition to these activities, there are other showcase events that, while it does not involve closure of roads, cause as much traffic since people tend to flock and patronize them.
It used to be that the celebration of the Panagbenga was confined for the enjoyment of the residents of Baguio City. However, the festival was such a success that people from all walks of life coming from other places got word of the pomp and glee. They got curious and had to witness for themselves how the flower festival is celebrated. Thus, through the years, the promise of a better and bigger flower festival from the organizers carried with it the consequent larger crowd who, with their cars and big family, bring with them their trash and noise.
We really do not mind the visitors. Their coming here is a testimony to the success of the flower festival and their progress for the city. What bothers us the most is that, when these people flock to the city, our faucets run out, our parks become littered with garbage, the cost of our basic commodities are priced higher, and, most inconvenient of all, our streets become so congested that we cannot go out of our residences. We would rather, therefore, stay home and enjoy the solitude of our family and friends. In a way, that is a good relaxation. But in the process, we, to whom the flower festival is intended, no longer go out of our way to pat-ronize our own fiesta.
The past three years have seen a suspension of activities of the festival. Due to the pandemic, it was deemed necessary and proper not to celebrate. This year, the Panagbenga is certain to come back with a big bang. The organizers promised all traditional activities to culminate the event shall be in full steam. This means there will be several days, maybe even weeks, when we have to bear the closure of roads within the central commercial district. We have to contend with a massive traffic for sure because tourists and guests shall come in droves to the city to join the festivities. Already, hotels, inns, and boarding houses are fully booked.
In all of these, we can opt to mill around with the people or just stay home and relax. Yet, through it all, we need to prepare for the inconvenience it may cause us.