Testing Ourselves

IT’S THE lovely month of February, when hearts go fluttering, when flowers are blossoming. Here in Baguio, it’s the usual days when frenzied preparations are several notches up to make the annual flower festival better than the last. How are we faring along?

Just two days ago, Panagbenga’s opening day parade breezed through with not a singular kink spoiling the day’s merriment. As usual, we were regaled by our grade school participants who enlivened Session Road all the way to the Athletic Bowl with an allout performance for the right to compete in the Annual Street Dancing competition slated three Saturdays from now. As usual, our pupils went about their routine in energetic gusto, giving extraordinary dynamism that only kids of their age can muster.

Going by the frenetic activities that went by that day, everything seems to have been smoothened out, the usual hitches not as major, major despite the change in festival management. By all standards, the annual festival may be on its merry march, all the way till early March. By all means possible, the flowerfest should go the way of success, if only to justify the city government’s policy decision to have public officials be at the management helm this time, instead of playing supportive functions in the last decade or so.

There shouldn’t really be a serious concern. Government, after all, has the ability and resources to run the flowerfest to its fullest course. The business of management however is somewhat tricky when public and private leaders are harnessed as a single-minded force to enforce a singular policy goal; almost always personalities clash simply because of radically differing attitudes. We also have history to draw good, hard lessons from. Government has not demonstrated ample competence in managing entrepreneurial projects, as attested by how much strain the problem of proper waste disposal has afflicted our small community for decades now.

The way we see it, this year’s Panagbenga once more puts to a test the very mettle of government, its capacity to sustain the gains earned through hard-proven years of resiliency towards its private partners. More to the point, it should be able to demonstrate how strong the vaunted public-private partnership that has been through the years, enough for the annual Panagbenga celebration to be adjudged nationally as the best managed festival hereabouts.

Success however is better measured, not in terms of revenue generated, but in the community acceptance that it can earn from all concerned sectors. Should the public-private partnership of a community-based program remain enduring, enough to outlast the momentary trials, then the Panagbenga will assuredly continue to flourish, regardless of a strategic reversal of roles. Words of acrimony may have been unleashed, but they are simply cheap arguments. Wounds of hurt may have developed, but if all these have been set aside for the greater cause of an enduring partnership, then the shift in management is merely just that, a shift that can only serve as a refreshing breather of sorts.

Lest we forget, Panagbenga should always be all about caring and sharing, between and among our own residents and the visitors we graciously host at this time of the year. It’s all about the precious environment that Baguio has in all its uniqueness, the very natural setting from which floral resources have grown in full splendor.

The richness of our natural wealth deserves to be eloquently showcased in all public exhibitions lined up throughout the month, from the Baguio Blooms now ongoing at Burnham Park to the Session Road in Bloom on the festival’s last week. Sundry household items and run-of-the mill dry goods — those that are daily available fare from the nearby public market — should have no place at all in such a revered setting.

This year, it is a proud development that Culture and Creativity are interwoven into the festival thread of activities. Both core-ideas have long been the signature theme that has projected Panagbenga’s allure since this prime tourism event was first introduced in the mid-nineties. As part of the UN Creative Cities Network, Baguio has the splendid opportunity to showcase the wellspring of culture that has developed in a natural environment that we have, in harmony with each other despite the diversity each set of traditions has. Let there be an explosion of creatively-integrated cultural practices run through the festival month.

As in any endeavor, success will always have many fathers. But failure will remain a forgotten orphan no parent may adopt.

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