February 1, 2014, 8:00am, Baguio City.
It was a cold morning when the opening parade of the 2014 Baguio Flower Festival started. The Philippine Military Academy was first in the line followed by the City Officials and the Festival Committee. This year’s opening parade was composed of the different Barangay officials in their “floral” uniforms and eleven (11) elementary schools who were competing with each other. The parade was colorful but short as compared to the earlier Panagbenga openings. Nevertheless, we are hoping for the grand parade to be more beautiful and exciting this coming February 22 and 23.
I am a solid Baguio boy and had the opportunity to join and participate in numerous Panagbenga festivals during its early years. As time passed, I saw many changes to what is Panagbenga Festival today. I have my reservations. Nevertheless, for visitors and tourists who will be coming to watch the grand street and floral parade, read below.
TIPS FOR PANAGBENGA PARADE: Panagbenga parade proper, February 22 and 23.
1. Come early. The Baguio city Central Business District is small and can only accommodate a handful of thousands. If you would like to have the best spot to watch, better be at the city proper by 6am. Choose your spot and stay there. Be sure to have with you water, biscuits and do not bring a large umbrella as it may cause you trouble. Just bring a small “pamaypay” or something that can cover you from heat of the sun.
2. Bring a lot of patience. The waiting time for the parade to start is sometimes longer as planned and the people tasked for crowd control are sometimes arrogant for whatever reason so keep your cool.
3. If you are going as a family or group of friends and all of you have big DSLR cameras or IPADS or IPODS or notebooks or laptops, it is better to designate an official photographer in your group so that all of you will enjoy watching what the Panagbenga parade has to offer instead of all of you taking pictures. In these previous years, I have noticed that so many GADGETS were watching instead of people. And there were few moments where the gadgets started to quarrel with each other.
4. Eat a full breakfast and do your personal comfort things before going to the parade. Once you are in the crowd, there is no way you can pass easily just to go to the comfort room. There are no street vendors located within the parade area. It is also advisable to put your kids on diapers or better yet, do not go to the crowd.
5. If you would like to watch street performances sitting down and in a shade, better go straight to the Baguio Athletic Bowl and seat at the bleachers. This is recommended for the elderly and people with disabilities .
6. Parking is a big problem and taxi cabs are always full. You are in Baguio City, so walk. We all need the exercise. If you have a car, create an itinerary or things to do within the day that will not involve the use of the car unless you would like to be stuck in hours of traffic. This has been the problem in Baguio city lately. Normally, traffic ceases around 5pm after the parade.
7. Pickpockets and petty thieves also come during the parade so be extra careful. It is always better to put your wallets in your front pockets or better leave your valuables at home or somewhere safe.
Here are some pictures of the Opening Parade.
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