What is the direction of Panagbenga

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Many local residents and visitors were aware of how Panagbenga grew into one of the preferred crow drawing events annually in the global village. It was able to reach a magnitude that serves as a benchmark in the conduct of similar crowd drawing events in the different parts of the archipelago. Unlike other festivals which only last for a few days or at most a weeklong festivities, the city’s flower festival owns the distinction of being the longest running festival usually held on the first week of February up to the first week of March every year. From a supposed parade of children decorated with flowers, the highlights of the flower festival, particularly the grand streetdancing parade and the grand float parade every last weekend of February, has become a must-see events of the festival. Thanks to the thousands of schoolchildren who are ever willing to share their dancing prowess for their active participation in the grand streetdancing parade and the corporations and agencies willing to spend for the display of their own floats for the grand float parade. The bigger thanks should go to the Almighty Father which gave Baguio City its unique cool and romantic weather which is the reason why people from the lowlands want to come up to the city in order for them to escape the extreme heat of the heat during the summer months.

Many people are not fully aware that behind the conduct of the successful events lined up for the month-long celebration, there are numerous bone-crunching exchange of accusations between organizers and some city officials who seem to have little knowledge on how to administer the affairs of a festival similar to the current magnitude of the Panagbenga. Every year, the city council often comes out with serious allegations against the organizers of the event and the organizers come out with their credible answers to refute such allegations. People are now obviously fed up with such repeated accusations against those who handle the events lined up for the festival.

It is disgusting to note, however, that city officials seem not to have gotten their right bearings. Obviously, some of them seem to prefer other organizers to handle the festival apart from the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc., which is composed mostly of city officials while some just want their concessions to be considered and put in place.

We believe that Panagbenga as an institutionalized government-led and community supported festival should be a standalone festival. The conduct of the inherent trade fair or market encounter or whatever name they would like to denominate it should remain with the organizers except if the foundation will cease and desist to exist. We believe the sudden emergence of applicants for trade far which is in conflict with the traditional market encounter in the dates and venue was engineered by some politicians who simply want to continue creating trouble, making noise and wanting to be a staunch opposition but in fact it would be the other way around. We believe the foundation was able to work through numerous challenges in the past just to make the activities reach a credible magnitude that is why to deviate from such would be a gamble on the part of the city and the organizers that might ruins the gains of the past.

We assert that considering that the Panagbenga is a festival of the people, all suggestions and recommendations on how to sustain the success of the festival must be coursed through the proven and tested organizers for them to consider. We appreciate the gesture of a member of the city council, who had been previously a critic of the festival, but for one reason or another, she made a sudden turn around and publicly commended the organizers for being able to effectively and efficiently handle the staging of the festival for several years without remuneration or whatsoever. Why can’t the festival critics swallow their pride and suggest what other innovations could be done in order to introduce new attractions for the festival every year?

The festival organizers are open-minded and are willing to entertain doable suggestions on how to make the festival successful that is why there will be some slight changes in the conduct of the activities for this year. Instead of being engaged in petty bickering that could ruin whatever the gains of the festival had been over the past two decades, let us continue to unite behind the organizers, suggest what we believe will be good for the festival and the viewing public, volunteer in doing what would continue to improve the festival among others for us to move on to greater heights rather than being pulled back to square one.

Let us not succumb to the proven and tested saying ‘too many cooks will spoil the broth’ but instead let us embrace the saying ‘two heads are better than one’ as we do not have the monopoly of knowledge and skills to make our everyday decisions perfect. Much better, let us learn from our mistakes and make do with what we have.

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