June 24, 2024

In 1993, a traveling circus show composed of world-class performers came to Baguio City. It was dubbed the greatest show on earth.
The circus featured the feats of individuals we did not know existed before. There were clowns, contortionists, jugglers, and high-wire acts called trapeze that were truly extraordinary. The closing act was the crisscrossing of several motorcycles and bicycles in an orb of limited space spinning at a dizzying speed in a coordinated manner without colliding with each other.
The circus was highly-patronized and residents of Baguio looked forward to its return. But despite the success of the circus, the crew never returned. Hence, we had to look for another show that we can call the greatest show, at least if not on the planet, in the Philippines.
It was probably the same year the Baguio Flower Festival or Panagbenga debuted.
During its initial staging, it was an ordinary parade. Yet, it immediately caught the attention and the attraction of those who watched it because it offered something different. It was more colorful and it had a topic that was significant to the sensitivity of nature lovers. It was a sight to behold and it was a perfect event to lessen the stress and the pressure being suffered by the workingmen.
The Panagbenga featured petals of different colors, plants of contrasting shapes, and flowers of various scents. More importantly, it also featured dancers clad in nice costumes. It was an instant success. It restored the luster of the city which, at that time was being upended by other places as the Summer Capital of the Philippines.
By word of mouth, the Panagbenga caught the attention, not only Filipinos, but also people the world over. They were curious on what this Panagbenga is all about and little by little, year after year, more patrons trooped to Baguio in February to witness the beauty of flowers. They came in groups and they talked about their experience long after the festival has ended.
They looked forward to coming back the next year expecting the Panagbenga will be bigger and brighter.
Baguio City did not fail them. Every Panagbenga is a new experience. Every parade is a different one from the ones that preceded it. Sure, the format remains the same but the performance and display of flowers always outdo the previous flower festival. This is what makes the show unique and attractive. The flowers bloom every year but their fragrance and colors are always new. As long as the blooming of flowers continues, the Panagbenga will have a reason to be on full display.
It is obvious there will no longer be any circus that will come to this part of the Philippines. The greatest show on earth is nowhere in sight.
Regardless, there is the Panagbenga which, to this date, is indisputably the best and most colorful fiesta in the Philippines. We can lay claim, therefore, the Panagbenga is truly the “greatest show” in the country.