The Panagbenga Festival 2023 – Grand Float Parade and Exhibition (and WINNERS)
Things are really getting back to normal. After two rough years of isolation, restrictions, and social distancing due to the global pandemic, it seems like things are going back the way they were. Especially in tourism, it is finally going back into shape. After the two year hiatus, the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio is back! It has been six years since the last time I went to Baguio to witness this much-awaited festival.
The term Panagbenga is basically a Kankanaey term ( a South-Central Cordilleran language) which means “a season of blossoming, a time for flowering” as it is celebrated on the month of February when flowers are starting to bloom. This festival reflects the history, traditions and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras. Panagbenga is a month-long celebration with the last Saturday and Sunday of February being the grandest of them all.
The Grand Street Dance Parade is usually done on the last Saturday while the famous Grand Float Parade is often done on the last Sunday. I was lucky enough to be part of a tour a few weeks ago that gave me a chance to revisit some of the amazing places in Baguio, as well as to witness the colorful Grand Float Parade. We departed from Cavite on Friday night and arrived in Baguio on Saturday morning. We had our first stop over in the famous Lion’s Head before heading to our transient house just to unload our bags.
Although, we decided to skip the Grand street dance parade, we’ve spent our Saturday visiting some of Benguet’s famous destinations. These include the colorful houses of Stobosa, the Strawberry farm of La Trinidad, the Bell Church Temple, the Lourdes Grotto in Baguio, the Mansion and the Mines View Park, and the Diplomat Hotel. We also concluded our day by visiting the Night market before heading back to our transient house.
Unfortunately, we arrived quite late for the Float Parade. It was already starting and we were dropped off at Baguio Cathedral when the parade was about to end. I decided to ran to the next street and was fortunate enough to capture some of it. According to reports, there were an estimated 50 thousand people who visited Baguio to witness the colorful and festive float parade. The Float parade is the main highlight of the festival which features huge floats that are covered in wide variety of flowers.
These colorful floats generally conveyed a message of joy, harmony and unity. These are carefully and skillfully created by local craftsmen and artisans who used mostly fresh and real potted plants by farmers from Benguet and Baguio. The theme of this year’s Panagbenga Festival, “A Renaissance of Wonder and Beauty”, highlights the city’s journey toward tourism revival, sustainable and responsible tourism development, and entry into the new normal after the pandemic.
It should also be noted that this parade is also a competition divided into Big Float and Small float category. Both Street dance and Float Parade took the usual route beginning at the Upper Session Road near the Panagbenga Park, down Session Road to Harrison Road ending at the Melvin Jones grandstand where they will be exhibited.
Some of the festival and cultural dancers also performed during the float parade.
Each float in the parade is represented by a product, a brand, or a company. I am not sure if this is some sort of promotion, sponsorships, or both, but they were all part of the competition.
This huge float with head-turning image of a lady is from Sitel group. It later won the Third Place in Big Float Category.
Just look at all the details.
Jollibee is also part of the parade
Street dance showcasing Baguio’s rich culture
Coca-Cola themed float
Another colorful float representing an Ethyl alcohol brand.
Riding the float is the popular content creator Albert Nicolas also known as the Asian Cutie
Cultural dancers not just showcasing their native costume but also their ethnic instruments and music
Truly, a remarkable performance
A colorful and festive way of showcasing country’s culture and tradition.
Jeepito is a customized miniature jeepney is a staple of the Float parade since 2015.
The parade concludes with Baguio Horse Club sporting some iconic Disney character costumes.
There were also some Street Dance performances from the yesterday’s competition performed in Melvin’s Grandstand.
Dancers wore colorful costumes equipped with beautifully crafted props.
Later that day, the floats were also placed on a public exhibition, allowing visitors to view these colorful floats up-close.
A float by the Department of Tourisnm in Baguio
An Aladdin-inspired float
A beautiful float by SM Baguio
A float by Sitel
A float from IKEA Ph
A float by the Manor in Baguio
The float by Avilon Zoo that won Second Place in Big Float Category
The Santo Nino detail from Casino Ethyl Alcohol Float
Some details from Zaparita Garden float, the winner of the Small float Category
Detail from Mang Inasal Float, Second place winner of Small Float Category
BIG FLOAT CATEGORY:
1st – TIEZA – Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority
2nd – Avilon Zoo
3rd – Sitel Philippines
SMALL FLOAT CATEGORY:
1st – Zaparita Garden
2nd – Mang Inasal Philippines
3rd – Benguet Province
Avilon Zoo Float
Sitel Group Float
Mang Inasal Float
Benguet Province Float