Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The Flower Festival in Baguio...

The very first time I went to Baguio as a grown-up was last November 2001 with my officemates. For the past 2 years, I had visited this dear, adorable city a total of 9 times. The five times of it, I was in the company of colleagues and good friends; the other 4 - I went solo. I would not deny that this city had been an escape route for me, a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Here, in this place, I always find myself at peace. Far from feeling the push and pull of a busy, city life.

Despite spending just one night there, I never regret the lack of time I spent there. I would go back to the city the next day feeling refreshed, ready to face the world again.

For the first time, I will be missing the
Flower Festival. I have a very tight schedule for February and unfortunately, I was not able to turn things as expected. Anyway, I will probably be there by March.

Here is a news rundown of the events for the Fest. This was actually posted at the
Manila Times last February 1.

Manila Times/Sunday, February 01, 2004
By Ramon Dacawi , Northern Luzon Bureau

BAGUIO CITY—Residents led by children will take to the city streets at 9 a.m. today
with a colorful parade to launch “Panagbenga 2004,” the ninth edition of the
crowd-drawing, monthlong festival of flowers of this mountain resort.

Flower-adorned drum and lyre and dancing groups, bands and people donning
ethnic costumes of the Cordillera, will display their choreography developed for
several months in the two-hour parade that serves as an elimination round for
the final competition set on February 21.

To the tune of the festival theme played by combining the rhythm of native
gongs with band instruments, the revelers will snake their way down
Session Road, the city’s main street and wind up at the city athletic bowl
for the opening ceremonies.

Mayor Bernardo Vergara, who took over the helm of the preparations last
year, will formally declare Panagbenga 2004 open while Rep. Mauricio
Domogan will deliver a message focusing on the significance of the
festival celebrating the city’s cultural wealth and status as a city of

Vice Mayor Betty Lourdes Tabanda will give the welcome address and retired
school dean Macario Fronda will launch the lyrics of the festival theme that he
set to music, as his tribute to the people and scenic mountains of the Cordillera region.

At least 31 cultural, literary-musical, art, sports, floral exhibitions, trade fairs and
related activities have been spread out until February 29 by the preparations
committee, led by city officials and the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation.

Also to be launched today are the “Market Encounter” flower garden and
landscaping competitions and the “Carpet of Flowers” at the Burnham Park,
the clean-and-green competitions and the “Session Road in Bloom” display
of flowers and flower-inspired items.

Day 1, chaired by councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia and city tourism officer
Benedicto Alhambra, will end with the first of a series of fireworks
display at the athletic bowl.

Festivities resume on February 7 when budding and seasoned artists capture
in paintings the concept of Panagbenga, a native term meaning a season of
blooming under the “Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom” feature.

Also set next weekend is the Panagbenga open golf tournament at the Camp
John Hay and Baguio Country Club Fairways to usher in an eight-event
sports sidebar of the festival.

The festival peaks anew on February 13 and 14 with the Burnham Lake Flower
Festival featuring fluvial parades, regatta events and rafting competitions.

Daring horseback riders and pony boys will have their day on February 15
with a gymkhana, or equestrian show featuring fancy rides, races,
balloon-bursting, musical chairs and other parlor games on horseback at
the city athletic bowl.

For two weeks, from February 15 to 29, visitors will have a glimpse into
the rich Cordillera culture through dance, music, ethnic costumes, arts
and cultural shows at the Malcolm Square, Botanical Garden and Sunshine

February 20 is reserved for the “Mr. Panagbenga” body-building competition
at the Baguio Convention Center and the first Baguio dance-sporttournament
at the CAP Theater of Camp John Hay.

The crowd coming in for the celebration is expected to overshoot the
one-million mark, as it did last year, on February 21 when the Grand
Parade and finals of the street dancing competition unfold. Also scheduled
on the date is the first Baguio fireworks display competition.

Many of the local hotels, which, together with the restaurants, are the
biggest direct beneficiaries of the festival, have been fully booked for
that weekend.

Floats and brass bands take over the main street the following day and
wind up at the Burnham Park for the band and drum and bugle corps

The search for the 2004 Flower Queen will be hosted by the newly opened
Shoemart mall on February 25 while the “Session Road in Bloom” trade fair
will be on full-blast from February 23 to 29.

Panagbenga formally ends on February 29 with the BFF half-marathon, field
demonstrations, a silent drill exhibition by the Philippine Military Academy cadets
and a fireworks display.

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