Panagbenga is a kankanaey term which means “a season of blooming”. It is largely known as the Bagiuo Flower Festival which pays homage to the beautiful flowers of the city. It is said that the festival is held as a celebration of Bagiuo’s re-establishment from its grim experience in the 1990 earthquake (http://www.philippinecountry.com/).
The roots of the flamboyous Panagbenga can be traced back in 1995 from the realization that
Bagiuo City should have its own “fiesta” or festival just like any other major city in the . However, Philippines is unique in itself having been created later by the Americans and not earlier by the Spanish colonist. This is the main reason why the city did not start as a town that had a patron saint for which to celebrate on religious grounds. Another drawback is that Bagiuo City ’s charter day is on September 1 which is already the rainy season, not a very inviting weather for a parade. Fortunately for Bagiuo, Atty. Damaso E. Bangaoet of the John Hay Poro point Development Corporation came up with an idea of a flower festival, since flowers are one of the things that Bagiuo City is known for, and having it in February when the flowers are in bloom added to the charm of the idea (www.GoBagiuo.com). The idea was accepted by the different sectors of society and immediately garnered an overwhelming support from the community. The need to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage not only of Baguio but also reflective of the Cordillera region became the driving force behind the continued success of the Panagbenga throughout the years. Bagiuo City
In the early days of the festival, the Panagbenga was held as a series of celebrations running for a period of 10 days, kicking off at the launching ceremonies, stretching over two weeks for the Session Road in Bloom and ending in the last weekend with the Grand Parades. But since the festival grew in popularity, two weeks became three, later on covering the whole month of February, and now it even stretches on to the first week of March (GoBagiuo).
Different events filled the celebrations but the core remains to be the Parade of Floats, the Streetdance competition, Session Road in Bloom, Market Encounter and the Pony Boys Day. The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation (BFF) was organized to manage the festival.
The different participating schools showed off their colorful ifugao and cordilleran native costumes, the lively beats and their captivating moves. All of these represent the vibrant colors and life in the highlands.
Ramie is the cloth woven by the ifugaos to ward off the sometimes-unforgiving cold weather of the cordilleras. Ramie is cotton handwoven featuring ifugao designs. The headresses here are made of feathers and beads.
The parade stopped at pre-determined areas where the streetdancers perform their dance, hoping to win the award for best streetdance group of the year.
Ifugao women wear the tapis, a wraparound skirt called the ampuyou or tolge. The ordinary tapis features narrow white horizontal stripes and broken line of red triangles, and is worn just above the knee.
Although the ifugao culture is heavily grounded on rice, this did not prevent the streetdancers to decorate their costumes with flowers all over. This is the flower festival anyway.
And under the heat of the sun, their props proved to be handy.
Even the men, supposedly the warriors of the tribe, sported flowers on their heads, arms and feet.
The Grandstand grounds were literally flooded with flowers. With their fancy headresses, Bagiuo was truly in bloom.
While the streetdance competition progressed, the other streetdancers waited for their turn to wow the crowds.
So sorry. This young ifugao girl seemed to hate me for taking their picture. I cant help it, those young girls and boys are as cute as dolls.
The people of Bagiuo City really took their festival seriously. The costumes are fancy and impressive. The ladies are a hit! headturners even without the fancy costumes...
Competing in the streetdance contest takes months to prepare. These kids sure look serious about it though.
A modern take on the flower headdress and costume.
Truly, the festival and the streetdance not only showcases the talent and skills of the people in Bagiuo, but also provides snapshots of the culture of the people of the cordilleras.
Next:Panagbenga 2011 Part 2: The Float Parade
New Post: for tips and advice on enjoying Panagbenga, you can go to:
Tips for a Hit and no Miss Panagbenga
Tips for a Hit and no Miss Panagbenga