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BAGUIO's PANAGBENGA Flower Festival

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PANAGBENGA is a local Kankana-ey term in Cordillera, which means “a season for blossoming; a time for blooming", coined by Ike Picpican, curator of the Saint Louis University Museum in 1997.

It is a month-long celebration in February/March during the business-lean months to attract tourists to the City of Baguio after the holidays and before the peak Summer Season.

It culminates with a Grand Flower Float Parade, held usually on the last Sunday of February.

The Flower festival symbolizes the rise of Baguio from the city's devastating earthquake disaster on July 16, 1990.

To kick off the BEST of Baguio series, here's my first-timer's take on the Panagbenga experience...

Awesome Baguio Experience Series:

BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

THE GRAND STREET PARADE (Saturday)

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The festival procession is a bit short. It starts from the top of Session Road (near Hill Station), goes all the way down Session, and ends in Burnham Park.

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Most people wait at the first dancing station, located in front of BPI, PLDT and the Police Station.

(Tip: The sun rises on the right side of Session Road, so better secure a spot on the left side.)

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You have to wake up as early as 4am to reserve your spot along Session Road. With an estimate of 1,000,000+ tourists during Panagbenga, it is quite tough to find available spaces.

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Some enterprising people even sell reserved spots for P20 each.

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You can also choose to view the parade from inside Jollibee or Zola resto, but you need to reserve a table with P2,000 minimum consumable or...

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...you can just hang around outside Jollibee (at least you are near the restroom area).

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A favorite Baguio breakfast is the Strawberry Taho for P15 or P20.

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Or you can bring your breakfast baon or buy some hot noodle soup from the nearby 7-11.

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This year's Grand Street Parade started at exactly 8am on a Saturday.


St. Louis University's Drum and Lyre Marching Band was one of the highlights of the street parade. The dynamic, upbeat tunes and surprising dance sequences made all the 3-4 hours wait well worth it. :)

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University of Luzon's Drum and Lyre Band was also fun to watch, with its beautiful muses leading the street dance performance and dancing to pop tunes and the addicting "Flower Festival Hymn" that grows on you over time.

Both St. Louis University and University of Luzon joined the Grand Float Parade the next day.

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Traditional Igorot dances...

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...and a tribute to the unique culture of the Cordilleras were also part of the parade.

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The parade ended with a charming performance of the grade schoolers.

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Most of the people who watch the festivities are dayo from Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, and neighboring towns. A lot of the locals prefer to stay at home to avoid the crowds and just watch the parade on their TV sets.

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The parade ended at around 9am in the first dancing area (in front of PLDT and BPI).

(Tip: The Saturday Parade is a bit short. It is better to just watch the The Grand Float Parade on a Sunday, where the Drum and Lyre bands also perform.)

 

THE GRAND FLOAT PARADE (Sunday)

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Getting a spot for the main float parade is tougher because people usually camp out the night before. Some arrive as early as 1am to reserve their sidewalk space.

(Tip: If you are a part of media and a photo hobbyist, better get photo accreditation before the festival so that you can enter the restricted parade grounds area.)

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The float parade started on time at 8am. This cute Angry Birds float got things rolling.

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The most celebrated float of flowers was the Star Wars-themed float from Baguio Country Club. :)

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Then, there was the hall-of-famer SM Dragon Float, complete with smoke coming out of its nose.

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The University of Luzon performed again, showcasing new costumes for the muses and...

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...Men in Black-inspired uniforms for the Drum and Lyre Marching Band. :)

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The St. Louis University Marching Band was also fun to watch, too. :)

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Another highlight was seeing celebrities joining the Panagbenga festival parade, like Dingdong and Marian promoting My Beloved,

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...TV 5 celebrities,

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...and the SHOWTIME float - the hottest float in Panagbenga 2012 - with Vice Ganda leading the crowd in singing the Showtime Theme Song. People were merrily clapping, howling and shouting, "It's Showtime!"

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NLEX joined the Panagbenga parade with a float and "sexy lady police" dance number.

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Batangas showed its full support of Panagbenga with its Taal Volcano-themed float.

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Las Piñas showcased its water lily products.

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There was also a Dr. Seuss Musical-themed float.

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I usually hate the marketing-float-ads by the big companies but I was impressed with the SMART float made of fresh flowers with lots of roses.

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The parade ended at around 9am. The last float had a band to kick off the street dancing! :)

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Most of the people joined the parade down the entire length of Session Road until Burnham Park--all in a street party mood. :)

 

SESSION ROAD IN BLOOM

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The next day, the entire Session Road was closed to traffic and filled with food stalls and booths promoting the different products of the Cordillera region for an entire week.

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The busy Session Road was "pedestrianized". You can walk the entire length to visit the various booths.

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It was fun walking around with the kids and...

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...taking pictures with the fun mascots.

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Overall, I loved the Float Parade with its innovative and creatively-themed flower floats, talented Drum & Lyre Bands, and, admittedly, the celebrities who supported the festival.

I would recommend that you just watch the Grand Float Parade on Sunday. Also, get accredited if you are a photographer to get a pass to shoot in the restricted parade grounds. Otherwise, you have to camp out early in the morning to secure a good viewing spot (preferably in front of the first dancing station near the Cathedral in front of BPI and PLDT).

I don't recommend bringing your kids to watch the parade, not unless you have a guaranteed seating area. It is best to just bring them to Burnham Park or Session Road after.

PANAGBENGA FLOWER FESTIVAL 
Baguio City, Cordillera Region
Official Website: Panagbenga 

Related Blog Posts on Baguio:

BAGUIO: Your Awesome Journey to Baguio Food Trip (Infographic)

Flavors of Baguio: Discover Baguio, One Bite at a Time!

Awesome Baguio Experience Series:

Awesome Baguio Experience Series II:

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature 
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Contact me: a
nton@diaz.ph iphone

Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. We are not connected in any way with the organizers of the Panagbenga Festival.

P.S. Please share your Panagbenga tips on how best to experience it in the Comments section.

 

 

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hi anton. thank you for showcasing Baguio's Panagbenga festival. it's about time that you feature this beautiful festival of the highlands. this has been my 3rd Panagbenga festival and every year, the parade becomes more and more amazing. it's only this year that the Grand Street Parade had less participants because they have been pre-selected already. anyway, next year, if you and your awesome family can go up to Baguio again, be sure to watch the Grand Opening Parade which starts on Feb 1. the even is similar to the Street and Float parade. thanks anton and more success to you and more blessings for your wonderful family :)

Thanks for this tip! Yes, maybe we will watch the Feb. 1 parade instead next year. 


Thanks for the comment :)


Anton

Been watching Panagbenga since 2005 and it keeps on getting bigger and better yearly! I love this post and surely will help bring more and more people up there. Keep it up!
Btw, session in bloom always ends up with a great big bang of lights, and probably one of the biggest fireworks display of the country, all of which happens at 3 different spots all at the same time. Hoping a feature is made out of that too. :D Best place to watch that is somewhere in North Drive just overlooking SM and Session Rd.

What a great post on Panagbenga! honestly, I haven't even seen the float parade in the past seven years the Hotel Elizabeth has been up! But now that you showed me, I wanna dooooo it!

Thanks!

ToT

It is better to just watch the The Grand Float Parade on a Sunday, where the Drum and Lyre bands also perform.

next year, i'm not watching from the TV. thanks!

Hello Anton! It is going to be my first time EVER to go to Baguio this February to watch Panagbenga Festival. I am on a budget for at least 3 days and 2 nights. Where's a good place to stay in Baguio that is cheaper than the regular hotels? An inn will do. I just need a decent and SAFE room. I called two hotels but they do first come first served basis. No reservations. :(

Any tip? thank you!!!!

The other option that we tried to do is to stay in the retreat houses around Baguio. You can rent a room and the accommodations are decent.


Anton

This is my first time at your blog and I've really enjoyed looking around. I will come back again in the future to check out some of the other articles.

I would just like to clarify that PANAGBENGA a local IBALOI term not Kankana-ey

"PANAGBENGA is a local Kankana-ey term in Cordillera...."

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