No doubt, Philippines is very rich in culture and celebrating fiesta in different regions is one evidence how significant this kind of celebration is. Through festivals, people will know the value of diversity and been able to accept all customs and traditions not only domestically but all over the world. One of the best representations of a happy festival in the Philippines is the Panagbenga or Flower festival held annually in the province of Baguio. The Flower Festival adopted the local Kankana-ey name “Panagbenga” which literally means “A season of Blossoming, A Time for Flowering.” It is usually a one month celebration every February with different activities, while grand parade happens every last week of the love month.
We have been to Baguio several times, but we never got a chance to experience their very colorful festival not until this February 2013 that got us the break to witness Panagbenga. Undoubtedly, Baguio’s flower festival is really a wonderful and happy experience especially for first timers. However, having experienced all the thrill and fuss, there are several learning experience and tips I would like to share to future Panagbenga travelers that might help them with their future planning.
Panagbenga festival event tips
- Book your Hotel as early as January
Panagbenga is a huge and famous celebration so expect that flock of people will go to Baguio to witness this colorful festival. Make sure that you have an advance reservation to your preferred hotel as most accommodation in Baguio becomes fully – booked as early as January.
- Pick the hotel near the routes where the parade will pass by
Since we are not that choosy in hotel accommodation, we picked La Brea Inn as our choice of stay for 3 days in Baguio. We chose La Brea Inn since it has a very nice location near several food establishments (Army Navy, Mcdonalds, KFC, Chowking, Jollibee, ChicBoy) in Session road where the grand street parade and fluvial float pass by. Aside from being so affordable (1700/night/room for 4) they also have balcony window on 4th and 5th floor where you can view the parade. La brea inn also offers clean and complete room amenities with free wifi connection and great customer service.
La Brea Inn contact numbers : 0917-6087800 / 0923-2800395 (It's better to call them for fast response)
- Book ahead your roundtrip tickets to Baguio
Expect flock of people on bus terminals especially after the festival so to avoid being a chance passenger, make sure you already have your reserved round trip tickets. The most famous bus line to Baguio is the Victory liner that offers you a hassle – free online reservation. Usually, they accept reservations a month before the Panagbenga festival schedule. You don’t need to go to their terminal just to buy your roundtrip tickets; all you just need is visit their reservation site: http://www.victoryliner.com/reservations/,your debit card or deposit the payment to Metrobank and they will send your reserved tickets via courier.
- Travel light
When travelling, it is advisable to travel light so you will end up having lots of space for pasalubong, haha. Kidding aside, it is important when packing your things to have your list on what to bring so you will not forget anything you need. It is also helpful to ask the hotel if they will offer free use of towel and free toiletries to lessen your load.
- Be an early bird during the parade
Both Panagbenga grand parades start at 8 in the morning and people already reserving good spots as early as 6 in the morning. As I have mentioned, you need to get a hotel with good location where the parade will pass by because it will lessen your time to walk from your preferred hotel to a good spot since all roads are closed during the parade. Since we checked in at La Brea Inn along Session road, it’s very convenient for us to go just downstairs and reserved a good spot in front of the hotel. During the street parade we reserved a sitting area around 6am while during the Grand flower float people were already taking a good spot as early as 5 in the morning.
- Have your breakfast or bring some snacks
Since it’s a long wait, it is important to have your breakfast first so you have enough energy throughout the parade. Alternatively, you can bring your own snack or baon that you can eat while waiting for the parade. There are also lots of vendors selling street foods everywhere including sack or paper that can be your sit cover on your reserved area.
- Jam-packed food establishments
You must expect that after the parade everyone is rooting to have a good lunch at restaurants & fast food chain. As much as possible eat your lunch early or quite late as food stalls in SM Baguio and Session road are all full.
- Expect long walks and heavy traffic
Since all roads are closed during and after the parade, be prepared to walk for some kilometers either on going to SM or nearby tourist spots. You must also bring with you some patience as roads are full with vehicles that cause heavy traffic.
- Don’t stay late at the Mansion and other tourists spots.
If ever having a side trip after the parade, make sure that you won’t stay late because you will have difficulties in getting public transportation as all FX services are full with passengers. Better yet rent the FX for a two-way ride with an additional charges.
Panagbenga festival is one of a kind flower festival you shouldn’t miss. You will be amazed on how locals dedicated themselves in making beautiful costumes and energetic dance moves. Your eyes will feast on different colorful costumes of every participant that’s really worth witnessing. The Grand Floral Parade was really refreshing and colorful. It was well attended, and included dignitaries such as Mayor, foreign delegations from Korea, Canada, Japan and local artists. (Bong Revilla & Indio cast; Robin Padilla & Kailangan Ko'y Ikaw Cast, Daniel Matsunaga, Shamcey Supsup, and Gary Valeciano. It’s really worth seeing festival in Baguio City, so colorful, so enjoyable and so amazing