There is no doubt that ‘Panagbenga’ was able to maintain its stature as one of the country’s prime crowd drawing festivities at the close of its 20th edition. But what local residents and visitors expected as blockbuster highlights having achieved a milestone turned out to be fading that resulted to numerous negative reactions from the ground. What was expected by the public turned out to be not enough to satisfy their desire to what they have witnessed in the two highlights of the festival.
From the launching of the flower festival last year, organizers projected this year’s festival as one of its kind that would really relegate the status of the Summer Capital as one of the frequently visited places in the country not only for its natural air-conditioning but also for its well-organized crowd drawing events filled with blockbuster performances from local participants. Ironically, the Year of the Goat seems not so good for the organizers as the conduct of the supposed month-long encounter at the Jose Abad Santos Drive was tainted with controversies that were made public which does not need to be resurrected. The conduct of the market encounter is annually tainted with issues that seem to crop up every year and seem to have no definite solutions of city officials and the bright organizers continue to insist on what they think would be the best. Many people were looking for more beautiful landscapes and flower-inspired products, but food and ready to wear items among other basic necessities are dominantly in display. Moreover, market vendors want that more meaningful activities should be created in lieu of the market encounter and the week-long Session Road in Bloom to prevent direct competition of the products sold in the market to those sold in both trade fairs.
For the organizers, they claim that the market encounter and the Session Road in Bloom are two income-generating events of the flower festival that generate the needed funds to bankroll the conduct of non-income generating events. The question we would like to pose to the organizers is that: Are there no other means of raising income aside from the conduct of trade fairs that seem to affect the income of our market vendors who are legitimately doing business?
Many observers raised concern over the dwindling number of participants to the grand streetdance parade. For us who were able to witness the birth and the growth of the flower festival, we want to see more on the performances of the streetdancers in high spirit comparing the same to the previous conduct of the flower festival. We firmly believe our streetdancers can exceed their recent performances if given the appropriate break, sufficient motivation and the character to do better.
Further, many observed the dwindling number of corporate participants in the float parade. The reason given is because of budgetary constraints. Really? Or is there something wrong on how the organizers handle things? This must be something to ponder on the soonest before we find ourselves with no more participants to both festival highlights.
We suggest that it is high time for the organizers to go back to the drawing board and to reflect on the future of Panagbenga. For the city officials, enough is enough for the politicking that has tainted the flower festival for years as they were already able to fill up their bags ready for next year’s campaign period. Even if city officials publicly deny their hands in the conduct of the various trade fairs that ruined the integrity of the market encounter, many are actually are aware of who are involved and who received that much. That is why they better shape up or just shut up. Let us pool creative minds in order to introduce new innovations the way we conduct the Baguio Flower Festival so that we will be able to continue attracting the influx of more foreign and domestic visitors. Let us not be satisfied sitting on our laurels because over the past three years, the number of spectators during the two parades have obviously declined.
We love the ‘Panagbenga’. That is why we are airing our simple thoughts which may or may not be considered. Let us move out of our comfort zones and explore other avenues on how to keep the excitement of the ‘Panagbenga’ working even if it continues to grow older through the years. We can count on everybody to share their views and for the organizers, tourism stakeholders and local officials to select which would be the best for the 21st edition of our flower festival that we nurtured for two decades. We congratulate all the participants and volunteers who made this years festival generally successful. Bring back the sting of Panagbenga.