BAGUIO CITY – After a three-year hiatus, Panagbenga 2023 made its much-awaited comeback with two of the most anticipated twin highlights of the weekend— Grand Street Dance and Grand Float Parade.
With the theme, “A Renaissance of Wonder and Beauty,” major roads in the city were filled last weekend with festive cheers and roars of residents and visitors to get a good spot to view the colorful and creative costumes, magnificent performances of the different participating schools, as well as for the big and small grand floats. Audiences eagerly awaited since the wee hours of the morning to catch a glimpse of these activities on the road.
In accordance with Executive Order 30, Series of 2023, classes were suspended earlier to pave the way for Saturday’s activities, such as the 2023 Panagbenga Festival Grand Street Dance Parade.
Last Saturday, February 25, thirty-two participants from three of the major group competitions paraded the streets. The groups marched from Panagbenga Park, down Session Road, and turned to Harrison Road and Melvin Jones Grandstand & Football Grounds. As they paraded, the contingents showed glimpses of their performances to the drawn crowd along the parade route, earning wows and cheers from the public.
As performers paraded the streets, they were seen to wear props and costumes that depicted rich and colorful cultural traditions, also diverse beliefs of the Cordillerans. These elements are also manifested in the different performances of the groups partaking in the cultural dance competition and festival dance competition categories.
The following Sunday, twenty-six beautifully decorated floats paraded along the same route the street dancers took the previous day. Indeed, the big and small floats were a sight you could not miss as some of the floats carried several celebrities also gracing the field with their appearances.
The parading floats comprised one leading float of the city government of Baguio, three non-competing floats, three Hall of Fame floats, two unregistered floats, and 17 floats that were participants of the two main competitions.
After the two grand events of the weekend, The city’s major road, Session Road, remains closed to pave the way for local concessionaires and stall owners to set up for the crowd’s favorite week-long “Session Road in Bloom” from February 27 until March 5, 2023. The road is converted into a long stretch of your one-stop shop with various products ranging from food to clothing stalls.
The Panagbenga Festival somewhat resumed last year but was “toned down,” according to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. This is compared to its annual, lively, month-long celebration as the city is just starting to recover from the pandemic. Last year’s celebration was without the crowd’s favorite grand street dance and grand float parade due to health and safety protocols.
The word Panagbenga stemmed from the Kankanaey term “panag-apog” meaning “Season of Blooming.” The festival runs for over the whole month of February, celebrated through various activities and showcases that foster the history, culture and traditions and values of the city and Cordillera in general.