Man waves at crowd at Panagbenga flower festival 2015.

Discover the Panagbenga Flower Festival

The Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio is a rite of passage for most travelers in Luzon, if not the entire Philippines. Almost everyone wants to go to Baguio, especially during Panagbenga, either for a day trip or a week-long escapade.

Usually held in February, the Panagbenga flower festival runs for an entire month. The festival was founded to boost locals’ spirits after the 1990 earthquake, which ruined most of the cities’ structures and claimed the lives of thousands. It also serves to inspire locals to honor and remember their rich heritage.

Marching Bands and Crowds in Baguio
A school’s marching band performs for the crowd during the Panagbenga festival in Baguio in 2015. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SANDY MIGUEL.

Panagbenga borrows its name from the Kankanaey or Igorot word for “season of blooming, a time of flowering.” It was Ike Picpican, a museum curator and a leading authority in Igorot culture, who recommended the festival’s moniker in 1996.

The festival consists of an opening parade, followed by several performances, competitions, and bazaars. The grand flower float parade serves as a fitting climax to the festivities, followed by Session Road in Bloom.

Crowd Parade Fantasy Characters
The restless crowd anticipates the passing of a float with a young man in costume. PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDY MIGUEL.

The latter has the famed road lined with myriad stalls that showcase the province’s native products and delicacies, as well as what neighboring provinces have to offer. If you’re shopping around for local handicrafts and artworks, Session Road at this time is the perfect place to get them.

If you intend to travel on the day of the grand parade, the travel time to Baguio should take about six to seven hours. Traffic congestion is normal, which would make it somehow impossible for tourist buses to enter the center of town. Buses would often drop tourists near the Convention Center and dormitories, forcing them to walk uphill to reach town.

A local schools's cadet officers and their muse poses marches in front of the crowd at Panagbenga 2015.
Local schools also participated in the parade in 2015, which happens to be the 20th anniversary of the flower festival. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE DESCALSO.

A natural stopover for ambling tourists is Burnham Park, which is linked to nearest route to Harrison Road. Some locals would advise tourists to head to Session Road to watch the parade, but crowd control officers knew better.

BFOWB attended the Panagbenga flower festival back in 2015. The spot this writer took was below the overpass near Hotel Veniz. Harrison Road was already a pandemonium by 6:00 in the morning, and the crowd swelled by the minute.

Crowd at Panagbenga 2015.
Getting crowded by the minute. PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE DESCALSO.

By 8:00 am, there was simply no means of getting through the chain of bodies eagerly waiting to get a glimpse of the parade. A lot of hard-headed festival goers had busted through the barricade rope into the space out front which made it impossible, not to mention see anything.

While it’s true that people can always see the parades on morning TV shows, nothing beats the thrill of getting into the spirit of Panagbenga. And nothing beats sharing the pride of Baguio locals in preserving their vibrant culture, in the weather’s cool embrace.

Panagbenga 2018 Schedule of Activities

See more photographs from the festival below:

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Featured Image by Sandy Miguel

Sandy Miguel

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