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Panagbenga: Baguio City Celebrates Life, Growth and Hope

Baugio City is known as the “Summer Capital” of the Philippine Islands. Tucked away in the Cordillera mountain range of Luzon Island, Baugio’s mild temperatures and beautiful views make it the perfect weekend getaway for travelers and local families to take a break from tropical heat of the Philippine summer.

The climate and heavy rainy season of Baguio City are ideal for growing and gardening. Pine trees, orchids, and mosses thrive in Baguio’s many landscape gardens and parks. Each February, the city of Baugio comes alive with colors as the people celebrate their month-long flower festival with parades, music and dancing, and massive floral arrangements. This festival is called Panagbenga (pa-NAG-buh-nga), which means “a season of blooming”.

Hope in Devastation

In the afternoon of July 16th, 1990, an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale shook Luzon Island. The devastation to the small island was immense, with approximately 1621 fatalities, 3,513 injuries, and nearly 10,000 buildings and homes damaged or destroyed. Baguio City took the brunt of the damage, cut off from water, electricity, and communication for several days after the initial quake. Landslides, aftershocks, and incessant rainfall further prevented supplies and medical aid from arriving quickly. As the city slowly pulled itself back together and the people sought a way to lift spirits their own spirits and re-establish Baguio’s place as a thriving travel destination, the idea for the Panagbenga celebration was born.

What to Expect

The Panagbenga Festival was accepted with such immense popularity that it grew from a small 10-day celebration to a full month of festivities. Today it draws over two million people to Baguio City each year. Throughout the month of February, Panagbenga attendees have the opportunity to witness several music and dance competitions, emphasizing the traditional Cordilleran dance and music. The festival has played a vital role in renewing a fresh interest in Baguio’s ancient traditions and arts among the youth during a time when interest had started to wane. The feature event of Panabenga is the parade. Dancers dressed in bright, floral costumes, marching bands and floats made entirely of flowers pack out Baguio’s narrow streets. Sunflowers, the trademark flowers of Panagbenga, are a common theme for costumes and floats.

Don’t Leave Baguio Without…

Riding a Jeepney

The preferred mode of transport in the Philippines since the second world war, these small open-air jeeps are known for being wildly decorated with lights, paintings, and chrome embellishments. Don’t forget to take a picture!

Trying a New Food

Adobo chicken, pancit palabok, and a custard-like tofu dessert called taho, are just a few favorites to try! If you’re not as adventurous, get your fill of fresh fruit such as mangoes, fried plantains or pineapple. Be sure to stick to fruits and veggies that have either been cooked or grow in a peel.

Taking a Scenic Detour

While the city is a sight to behold itself, it’s the panoramic views surrounding the city that makes Baguio truly astounding. Check out Bridal Veil Falls, Mt. Pulag or the lush, green rice terraces in Banaue, to the north of Baguio.

 

Whether you go for Panagbenga, or find yourself in the Philippines for a volunteer or service trip, we want to know about your experience! Share a picture or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter!

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.

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