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Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Competing leaders in Bagio double the parades for the 11th Panagbenga flower festival.


Streetdancers at Panagbenga.1

Bagio, the Philippines, 2/25/2006

Photo: Sun Star

The monster flower festival of the Philippines is sporting two heads this year, all the better for spectators.

Last fall, the mayor of Baguio decreed that the 2006 Panagbenga would be run by Nelia Cid, a local businesswoman who’d managed the 2005 event. But the city council swept in with a decree of its own, returning the festival operation to “lawyer Damaso Bangaoet Jr., the acknowledged founder of Panagbenga, who was reportedly eased out of the 2005 flower festival.”

In our experience, leadership roles for community events usually go begging. Is it the glory of flowers or perhaps something less ephemeral driving competition to run Panagbenga?

Whatever the backstaging or backstabbing, the two Panagbengas opened over the weekend, double-delighting tourists and hoteliers. In a spirit of accommodation, the mayor’s parade (under the auspices of Bagio Flower Festival Association/BFFA) went off Saturday, while Bangaoet’s (Bagio Flower Festival Foundation, Inc./BFFFI) took place Sunday.

“A police helicopter dropped rose petals as parade participants marched toward Session Road, the city’s main street.

“Elementary and high school students from various schools pranced in colorful body suits, played musical instruments wearing flower masks, and wore crowns and sun hats shaped like flower petals.”


A BFFA float, Panagbenga 2006

Photo: Sun Star

Saturday’s procession featured 19 flower floats and 13 teams of streetdancers, Sunday’s parade, ten floats and 15 groups of dancers. Bagio police estimated crowds at 400,000.

Another incentive to attend this year’s Panagbenga(s) was provided by Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had declared a state of national emergency on Friday.

Except for the presence of Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay, a staunch ally of Ms Arroyo, and a banner describing the flower festival as ‘petals for love, peace and unity,’ visitors like 70-year-old Luther Arboleda said the two-day festival was ‘just the right antidote to what’s happening in Manila.’”

For lots more on both Panagbengas, including photos, check out the Sun Star’s site.

Posted by Julie on 02/28 at 09:42 AM
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