A Season for Blossoming and Time for Renewal-A A +A
By Art Tibaldo
Monday, February 24, 2014
A SEASON of blossoming to me is a period of renewal. It is likened a cocoon that metamorphoses into a caterpillar and eventually into a butterfly. To me, it is part of a life cycle. It is a time for healing and mending broken ties. It is likewise a time to discard unwanted baggage and let go of mental burdens. The Panagbenga or Baguio’s Flower Festival is a resurrection of the city’s image as a city of flowers.
Though no longer abundant in the city due to rapid urban growth and lack of land for gardening, the requirement of flowers in big volumes are substantially supplied by outlying municipalities following the law of supply and demand. It provides farmers an alternative cash crop that assures them income beyond Valentine's day.
Before gardeners and landscapers adopted Golden Bush as the main plant material for front yards, I missed the days when plants such as Million Dollars, Poinsettias and Dahlias adorn porches and walkways. With the roses and chrysanthemum coming from the gardens of Bahong, La Trinidad and the Orchids, Tulips and other exotic flowers grown in greenhouses around Benguet Province, I do hope that Baguio’s response to Sinulog and Dinagyang of the Visayas will continue to be flowery and not end up to be a festival of plastic flowers.
The performers, the costumes, the promotional strategies, and the overall concept of either the street dance or the float are only secondary only to the intent and purpose of the festivity which is to bring fun, entertainment and wholesome family event for everybody.
Baguio’s Panagbenga has become a venue for artistic expressions and outlet for creativity. It has also become a rallying point for environmental conservation and protection of nature. It may have evolved into a multi-million yearly project that catapulted the city as the top tourist destination but I look at it as the mirror that reflects the people, the community, the government and the private institutions that makes the yearly flower festival happen.
I was part of its early beginnings back in 1995 when lawyer, Damaso E. Bangaoet, Jr. of the then John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation presented the idea of holding a flower festival in Baguio City. With the approval of the board led by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) Chairman Victor A. Lim and JPDC President Rogelio L. Singson, the Panagbenga became a citywide event held every month of February thereafter.
Back during its infancy period, the local and national media played a very important role in promoting a new concept of celebration. I remember the early management group wining and dining Manila based tourism and lifestyle writers and editors just to be able to hit national and international attention. We locals had our bits of perks and extra credits for putting Baguio in front pages assuring ourselves that we can be at par or even better compared to a Manila based media practitioner.
I have chronicled through film and videotape the blossoming of a tradition from press conferences, launchings and the twin event that really gained media mileage, the street dancing competition and the float parade. I missed the days when I brush elbows with the so-called witches of Baguio for the Barangay Beautification and Landscaping Program as a component of the flower festival. I remembering spending many official hours with the committee inspecting various Barangays for their landscaping entries that we validated and documented. I fully remember our encounters with dynamic leaders in the Barangay like Corazon Arizala and of Asin Road and Edita Ibarra of Middle Quezon Hill who rallied their constituents to really beautify and landscape their respective areas with flowers.
I missed the days when my wife Helen and I tag along our two wide eyed daughters at the former Scout Hill of Camp John Hay to view the landscaped gardens by the likes of florist Lino Aromin of the Baguio Orchidarium.
Fast forward – the 2014 staging of Panagbenga, though much more improved has the early marks of its early beginnings but include present day craze like anime costume parade called cosplay and the use of flying cameras called drone. With the participation of bloggers and hobbyists in the festival coverage, the social media has likewise entered the scene as a drumbeater in the global village.
Kryz Astodillo Akino, a social media friend who saw my recent BFF posts commented "their efforts cannot be compared to the efforts of anyone else in this show -- the people involved in making this event a successful, organized, entertaining, amusing, appreciated, lovely, and all the more glorifying...kudos to all the participants, security groups and officers, organizers, and all the people involved even to the people we fail to recognize -- the street sweepers and cleanliness aids...sadly, the flowers and plants we could see from this photo, are most likely to be found covered with trash and dilapidated in majority of the parks and roadsides by this time..."
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 25, 2014.