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Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival: 10 Things You Should Know

Baguio City, the City of Pines, blooms this February again as thousands of tourists head north for the Panagbenga Flower Festival. The festival includes the famous Street Dancing competition, Floral Parade, Session in Bloom fair.

If you are planning to attend this year’s Panagbenga, make sure to know the calendar of activities. Check our calendar below.

What are the things that you need to know before climbing up to Baguio for the Panagbenga Flower Festival?

1.    “Panagbenga” is a Kankanaey term which means ‘blooming season’. This signifies the blossoming of flowers that are planted in the mountain ranges of Benguet. The letter E in the word is pronounced like the E in ‘baker’. If you are a TV news reporter, try pronouncing it correctly just like how Ces Orena-Drilon did on TV Patrol years ago.

2.    Panagbenga Festival’s main events are the street dancing competition and the floral parade. However, there are tens of events that are less popular but still part of the fest.

3.    When you come up to Baguio and you do not want to be identified as a tourist in the city, never wear a bonnet with “Baguio City” mark. And never utter the line “malamig pala sa Baguio”. Do not forget to bring thick clothes because it is chilling here in the highlands (I think your Grade 1 teacher already told you that already).

4.    You should have booked your stay  here already. If you are a family and you wanted a place which is just minutes away from town, spacious for the while group, has kitchen amenities, clean, and safe, book at BaguioTransient. Baguio Transient is one of the best apartment-transients in the city, with has accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) and recognition from TripAdvisor.

5.    Never leave Baguio City without shopping at the nightmarket along Harrison Road. Second hand and first hand imported clothes and goods are being sold there between 9 PM and 12 AM nightly. Baguio people call thrift shops “ukay-ukayan” or “wagwagan”.

6.    Baguio City is a chartered city in Benguet in the Cordilleras. Natives of the city are Ibalois and Kankanaeys, or collectively (with other natives of the Cordilleras) called “Igorots”. Igorots, just like lowlanders, are ordinary people who wear jeans and speak English. Do not be surprised when you find out that Igorots do use iPhone 5 and BlackBerry phones.

7.    Once you are here in Baguio City, try visiting nearby places. Go to La Trinidad which boasts our Strawberry Farmlands. You can pick fresh strawberries and eat strawberry-flavored ice cream there. La Trinidad is just half an hour drive away from the city.

8.    Sagada is not part of Baguio City. It is located in Mountain Province. The town is not half a minute away from Baguio City. It is six hours away on a GL/Lizardo Bus line via Halsema Highway. If you wanted to consult about Sagada, you may email us at info@christianlizardoaligo.com and we’ll surely help you out with your Sagada tour. When you are also in a thrift shop, try asking the owner of the shop about the town because most thrift shops in the city are owned by people from Sagada.

9.    When you are here for the Panagbenga, make sure to wake up very early. Wake up at four in the morning. Bring food and water, and a cap to protect your head from sun rays and rain. At six, you must be along Session Road already securing a strategic place to stay while watching the parade.

10. Do not bring your valuables. This includes expensive Nokia phones, Apple tablets and TimeX watches. Do not give pick-pocketers a chance to own what you have been working for. Policemen around won’t bring you back stolen items. Another valuable is your 99-year old grandmother. Even if she insists, please do not bring her to watch the parade. She will just faint and you will spend your Panagbenga days in the hospital. Moreover if you have strict parents, try asking for permission before driving your car up to Baguio.

This year’s Panagbenga Flower Festival is really exciting. First, the Burnham Lake (by the way it is a man-made one) has been renovated for this occasion. Second, we are wondering who will be the epal politicians who will attend the fest in their spectacular clothes and dramatic arrivals. Third, we are watching out for freebies of businesses from Manila and other parts of the country that are expanding here in Baguio.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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