Text and Images by CEDIE SALIDO
Panagbenga comes from the Kankanaey term meaning the “season of blooming.” It celebrates the history, traditions, and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras.
Today, the city of Baguio continues to grow and deepen its roots by cultivating their culture and keeping the mountain spirit alive. In celebration of their 24th anniversary, new activities have been included to add color to their weaving tradition and modernity.
TEXTILES OF CORDILLERAS
One of the highlights of this year’s event was the textiles of the Cordilleras. It was an idea of Anthony Cruz Garcia, a fashion designer, textile technologist, and the leading advocate of The Hinabi Project (THP). He brought the masterpieces of Cordillera textiles to Camp John Hay for an exhibit. It featured five different tribes from the Cordilleran region, namely Applai, Gaddang, Ifugao, Itneg, and Kaling. Introducing their traditional way of weaving textiles in creating contemporary art, it tells the story of how the modern idea evolved and manifested with the pattern and symbolism incorporated with the textile. Each textile of their respective tribe represents symbolism embodied into it. The symbolism is believed to be associated with protection from harm, social status, and wealth. This helps to create awareness and encourage weavers, embroiderers, and designer of traditional Filipino textiles to pursue and continue their craft.
ILI AY CORDILLERA
Ili ay Cordillera is a village within The Manor Hotel. This small community emphasized the art and culture of the locals, from their Ifugao Hut—an indigenous house made out of wood carvings and nails that show the simplicity of their living—to their food market that promotes pesticide-free and organically grown vegetables. The Ifugao also showed great craftsmanship– one of the more known wooden figures they created is the Bulul, which is used as protection and guard for their rice crop. They also exhibited a weaver’s hut, featuring a demonstration of fine woven creations from the region’s different provinces. Ili welcomed the visitors with song and dance performance and ended it with interactive participation of the visitors.
ART OF GARDENING
As Baguio is known for its rich and colorful flower parade, the landscape competition was presented with a different twist. Unlike the float parade with extravagant bouquets of flowers, the landscape competition had a minimalist theme–bonsai. This year’s competition gave them a more challenging approach in choosing the right design and flower without compromising the required sophistication of the theme. The intricate arrangement of landscape design showed how well thought and effort, given for the love of gardening.
ILOILO X BAGUIO
Something familiar joined the Grand Street Parade–the Tribu Iloganon from Iloilo who joined the festivitity of the city. The organizers decided to invite people from Dinagyang to have a crossover for this year’s Panagbenga. It was a surprise to both locals and tourists to find two known festivals in the Philippines to meet at one event.
THE CLASSIC GRAND FLOAT PARADE
The most awaited part of the month-long celebration is always the Grand Float Parade, accompanied by the Grand Street Dance competition. During the grand parade, students from elementary to senior high school actively joined the festival. Each participant showed their amazing moves and proudly presented their costumes. It was St. Louis University that won the first price under open category. Tuba Elementary School got the first spot for elementary level. National City High School received the first place, under high school category.
It was blooming season for Baguio as the Grand Street Parade graced the Session Road area. It was a full blast of vibrant colors of 24 floats seen in the parade.
In the big float category, M Lhullier float received the first place, followed by Sitel Philippines, with the third spot going to Generika’s float. As the float parade finished, it was a surprise for any first timer viewer to see a clean and well-managed festival.
As Baguio receives more and more tourist every year, the city will keep their theme blooming forward as they prepare for the 25th Anniversary next year.