Me and my friends headed off to Baguio immediately after our exhausting-yet-fun day at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark Pampanga (check out my post here).
The Panagbenga Festival is a month-long annual flower festival held in Baguio City. Baguio is roughly 5-6 hours from Manila, depending on the traffic. The main events that thousands of tourists and locals usually attend to are the street dance parade (Saturday) and the float parade (Sunday). These parades happen on the last weekend of the month of February.
Thousands of people usually attend and finding a good spot to get a great view could be exhausting! Me and my friends woke up at around 4:30 am and by the time we got to our chosen area (at the intersection) at past 6, most of the front-row area are occupied. We managed to get hold of this spot because they were just about to close the still-open-road and we got there just in time!
The crowd kept on getting big and before the parade started, I found myself having two new seatmates.
I enjoyed their company because I felt like a big sister to them, however my seating position became uncomfortable. I stood up from time to time, feeling very apologetic to the people behind me. I’ve heard a few complaints but good thing, my new friends’ dad came to our defense and told the other locals that we’re tourists from Manila. 🙂 It helps to have friends, you know 😉
The parade started at around 9 am and runs for roughly 2 hours along Session road then to Harrison road until the Athletic Bowl. Here are a few pictures that I was able to capture during the parade.
When the final group passed by us (hinted by the police walking behind them), me and my friends decided to join the parade. Every street and even the overpass were filled with people!
Here’s me and my friends, with the rest of the crowd following us!
When we arrived at the Athletic Bowl (which is a really big stadium, probably as big as a baseball stadium), the areas where there’s a great view of the performances were taken. They were probably there as early as the time we arrived in our spot earlier. No chance at all for us to sneak anywhere else. Which is why, we decided to just mingle and take photos with the participants who are scattered in the field while they await for their turn to perform. Here are a few of them.
Who is the real Peter Pan? I love the kid in the middle! I wanted to adopt him. 🙂
From my experience, here are a few tips that one should keep in mind if you’re planning to attend this festivity:
1. Be polite, be friendly. These things could come a very long way, especially that you’ll be joining a crowd with thousands of people to get a glimpse of the same parade all at the same time. New friends will defend you even if you might be blocking their view. 😉
2. Get some rest the night before and eat breakfast before arriving at the venue.
3. Arrive early. Some people are already waiting at the streets and have secured a spot by 5am. You’d be lucky if you’d get a really nice spot by 6. Oh, and mind you, for the float parade (on my next post) which usually happens on the 4th Sunday f the month, some people sleeps on the street to secure their spot!
4. Bring water and snacks, your camera, and wear tons of sunblock (YES SUNBLOCK! Even my scalp was sunburnt!).
5. Enjoy, join the fun, and be careful of your belongings all at the same time 😉
Panagbenga is a festival that I think someone should try and experience for themselves. Someone should keep an open mind and an open heart though. It isn’t everyday that you’d see the natives in their “bahags” or “saya” in the metro, and the crowd should atleast react with respect. This is their culture and the Panagbenga festival is a way to showcase it to everyone. 🙂 I personally feel humbled seeing the performances and it moved me in such a way that I have a deeper appreciation of how everywhere else in the Philippines still embrace tradition and culture. And although some people from the crowd tend to get overly aggressive with their spot and sometimes disrespectful of other people’s personal space (unfortunately, others do this instinctively when they get overly excited with what they see or feel), there are still a lot of genuinely nice people around. 🙂 To say that we had a great time is an understatement. Another surreal experience.
Here’s to all of us, for joining the fun!
*UPDATE: Continuation of Panagbenga Festival: Float Parade here*
**Want to read more about other festivities? Read other posts on Festivals that might interest you**