Rebirth of Panagbenga grandeur seen in 2023
Stakeholders, organizers, and the community are hopeful the 2023 edition of the Baguio Flower Festival, or Panagbenga will revive the grandeur of the event that for three years, the public has missed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For Rep. Mark Go, this year’s edition, which banners the theme, “A renaissance of wonder and beauty,” should be celebrated in the way that it was celebrated in the past – grand, colorful, and an event that signals hope and promise.
Similar to what happened in the Middle Ages, which historians consider as one of the darkest in the history of Europe, Go said Panagbenga’s “renaissance” is like being reborn from the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Renaissance movement is a reminder that light will always prevail against darkness. The pandemic has taken so much from us. It even took away all the excitement and enthusiasm we once had for Panagbenga. But as what the Renaissance has taught us, we can win over the things that have once defeated us that even bad days come to an end.”
Go said just as the Renaissance period left timeless masterpieces such as the “The David” of Michelangelo and “Mona Lisa” of Leonardo da Vinci, he is hopeful this Panagbenga’s renaissance will also be an opportunity for Baguio to make it the best festival it ever had.
“This Panagbenga, we are taking back our city from the pandemic. This year, we will do better and prevail,” Go said in his inspirational message delivered during the grand opening of the festival last Feb. 1.
For Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Panagbenga symbolizes continued hope and encourages the community to heal, rise, and move forward.
“Let today mark the promising beginning of a Panagbenga festival back on its feet, a people fully risen, a city moving on in a post-pandemic world,” Magalong said before he formally declared the month-long festival open.
He thanked the people behind the staging of the festival for their steadfast faith and who kept dreaming and daring.
He also expressed his gratitude to former mayors Bernardo Vergara and Mauricio Domogan for their continuous support to the holding of the festival during their incumbency.
Domogan, chair for life of the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI), also gave credit to some notable personalities and institutions who made the Panagbenga one of the biggest festivals in the country today such as the late Damaso Bangaoet Jr. then chair of the John Hay Poro-Point Development Corporation and the brains behind the festival; the Philippine Military Academy, Prof. Mac Fronda, composer of the Panagbenga hymn, former Saint Louis University president Rev. Fr. Paul Van Parijs, and Vergara, who, during his incumbency in Congress, helped in the allocation of funds to sustain the operation of the festival.
BFFFI revived the Panagbenga last year sans the grand float parade and street dancing parade as mass gatherings were still prohibited by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Major events this year are the grand opening last Feb. 1; the landscaping competition and exhibition; market encounter; school-based landscaping; open painting exhibition; kite flying challenge; fluvial parade and mardi gras at the Burnham Park lake; cultural dance competition; unveiling ceremony of the Damaso Bangaoet, Jr. statue; grand street parade; grand float parade; Session Road in Bloom; and grand fireworks display. – Rimaliza A. Opiña