Ahh! Bagiuo....its been a while.
Bagiuo has always been my refuge. An easy sanctuary from both the hustle and bustle of a hippie life and the scorching heat of cement, steel and sun. Though my genes contain 'city' in their transcript, i always miss the cool breezes of Bagiuo. Just a bus away, thanks to the hourly Victory Liner for the most part...and you're there.
So much for the musings. Now I believe everyone in the country, especially our visitors and people in the Metro should experience the Panagbenga at least twice in their lives. Its Bagiuo at its best.
Panagbenga 2012 Launch and Concert: November 14, 2011
Panagbenga Opening Parade: February 1, 2012
Market Encounter: February 1 to March 4, 2012
Let a Thousand Flower Bloom: February 11, 2012
Handog ng Panagbenga sa Bagiuo: February 12, 2012
Fluvial Float Parade: February 12, 2012
Ipitik Festival: February 17-20, 2012
Chinese Spring Festival: February 21, 2012
Grand Street Dancing Parade: February 25, 2012
Grand Float Parade: February 26, 2012
Session Road in Bloom: February 27 to March 4, 2012
Pony Boy's Day: March 2, 2012
Panagbenga Closing Ceremonies and Grand Fireworks Display: March 4, 2012
In planning for Panagbenga, the best thing is always planning ahead...way, way ahead. I mean, by December you should already be booking a hotel, your bus ticket going to Bagiuo AND your trip home. Its a must, 'coz when you're there, it seems like the whole country is gathered there for a feast. In looking for a hotel, book the ones near session road. It's where all the action will be. I'm so sorry I don't have a list and the numbers, but next time i will. But the net has everything, try searching for Bagiuo hotels, all of them sure are advertising early.
But the Market Encounter is not located at the Central Market. Its around Burnham Park, behind it, well...at least last year Its not free too. There will be an entrance fee .... uhm, i forgot now how much it was, but its rather cheap like a 10 or 20. But the things you will find there are endless. Just make sure you can carry'em all back. The things i can't live without while there? strawberries and Sagada oranges!
OH! before I dwell in my reveries of food and shopping, I need to tell you about the Parade. Well, the common tale you'll hear from one who've been to Panagbenga and back is the waiting-since-dawn routine. Well, it's true. Some even sleep in tents just to secure a place somewhere in the pavement stretch of Session Road where the parade will pass. The parade will start around 8 am, but you will still manage to squeeze through people if you'll be there at 6 am. Yup, the earlier the better. So remember:
1. Be early, earlier than 6 am is good
2. Scout the day before along session road for a good vantage point, both to see above the heads and to take pictures. The session road is long, if you can manage to secure a sweet spot in front of the PLDT, then that's the best place. Otherwise, get on the footbridge or travel upstream (past SM City going to Victory Liner Station) where the assembly starts.
3. Bring newspapers or something you can sit on. the parade will last for at least 3-4 hours so your knees will need some break
4. Bring snacks, even if you plan to take a very heavy breakfast. You don't want to be fainting while the parade is still on, your friends will hate you.
5. Protection from cold is standard enough. BUT bring sunscreen. Yup, sunscreen. I really got pink cheeks and they're not from the 2 kilos of strawberries I ate.
6. Water. With too many people, and the parade being magical, there isn't just time to get out of line to buy water. Although you can risk your health and buy the ones sold in the streets.
If you want to watch the competition, the grandstand is a lot of space. But the really good spots are reserved for the VIPs, as always. That's where photographers reign supreme. But you can always squeeze in to get a good look. Another mental note: bring your telephoto lens! chances are, you'll need them badly. Have a fast lunch, then scurry down to the Quirino (?) Area for a nice front seat. I still dont know what that area is called. I'll ask a friend.
So c'mon, pack your gears and let's go up north this coming February.
For a good look of what happened last year at Panagbenga 2011, look here: