"for He satisfies the hungry and fills the thirsty with good things."


Me at Panagbenga Weekend: You're Reading that Right!

 I have always wondered how it feels to be a tourist in my home City. I guess I would never know but this recent episode is probably as close as I can get.

I found a great opportunity to get home during the long weekend at the end of January. The weather was still unusually cool and it was before the crazy festivities of February. So I made my plans for a laid back weekend with lots of quiet contemplation, some running and quality time with some friends and maybe my mom. This was a no-brainer of a trip so I did not have to consult any outside help (i.e. Google, travel blogs). I was just coming home for the weekend, after all. Which was too bad, as it turned out (initially, that is). The unnatural amount of people at the bus stations should have warned me that something was up. As it was, I only learned as I was disappearing into my thick blankets at home on Friday morning: my mom said it was Panagbenga weekend! Yikes.

I was there! In the midst of it all.

I have nothing against Panagbenga (the biggest celebration in Baguio city which attracts over a million tourists to a city built for 25,000!). Okay may be I have something. haha. When was the last time I was in town for Panagbenga opening parade?? A decade ago, maybe. Obviously, I had been avoiding it. I am not gonna spoil the party by enumerating the reasons why in here. This post is not about that. Anywhoo, this left me with a dilemma: should I stay at home to avoid being caught in the crowds or carry on with my plans colliding head on with the Flower Festival in all its splendor? Bullheaded little girl that I am, I stuck to the plan. Aaand, I even dared ask some friends from high school if they would brave this weekend for some time together. They turned out to be really good friends indeed. hahah.

Not-so-early on Saturday morning I got into full running array and headed to Camp John Hay. Yep. Even if that was on the other side of town, I still think it is a great place for jogging. How very touristy of me. When I got to town I found out that the parade was going to be in the morning and I could not get on any jeepneys to John Hay. I decided I could walk there as a warm-up exercise. I passed by Lake Drive which turned out to be where the bazaar/ market encounter was set-up. The side walk on the grandstand side was used for the landscape/ flower garden showcase. My mom was telling me about this the day before and I did appreciate quite a bunch of them. And then I passed by something that made my day (the first of many). Scroll down to the pictures to see what it was. :)

I walked all the way up Harrison road, joining people happily taking to the middle of the road which was closed. Only when I was turning to Upper Session(see here for map) did i realize that I was going to be literally meeting the parade head-on. Right on cue, I heard a drum & lyre band in the distance. Seeing that my route was in the direct way of the parade, I decided to pass by them and see. Besides there were few people at this part since it was almost at the beginning of the parade route. I had an excellent view of the show that I decided to stay and sit with the handful audience right on the side walk.

At this point I was getting somewhat emotional since i felt like a for-real tourist in my home city. I was taking pictures of the kids and I was like, "oh my I know how some of these kids feel, with strangers taking pictures of them in ridiculous costumes." Well actually the costumes weren't all that ridiculous. And then I started feeling like I have come full circle since more than a decade ago I was one of the children walking/ dancing in that parade and now I'm...a tourist! Gasp! I had reason to feel particularly sentimental because one could say we were the generation that birthed Panagbenga. I don't mean the ones who thought it up but, we were the first adorable dancing flowers people saw on that opening parade almost two decades ago. And it was a hit thus Panagbenga became bigger and bigger through the years. So come on, you could excuse me for being teary-eyed on that sidewalk. At one point there were kids/ flowers shouting a cheer and it gave me shivers because they sounded just like us in one faraway memory of the parade that got stuck in my head. My favorite moment came when I was thinking "Oh no I missed seeing SPED (my elementary school)" and then suddenly there they were at the very end of the parade. They stopped for a performance and I got all excited and video-ed them until my phone memory got full!

It was an exhilarating experience, one I did not even expect. One that fills you with so much energy, you can run all the way to your destination, which is what I did afterwards. Inside John Hay I only went as far as Technohub and had some quiet time in a coffee shop (not worth mentioning which. haha). I just took a moment thanking God before I was off again (still walking! All the way to the other end of session road!!!) for lunch with my mom and my cousin at a Japanese/Korean restaurant that I have never entered before. Turned out to be nice and my mom's current favorite dining out places-- and that's something since she's not fond of dining out. To cap off that day, my friends and I dined at a popular vegetarian place in the city, Azotea Greens. Again, another first for me.

Needless to say, I was glad that weekend happened as it did. It made me come to terms with Panagbenga in the city. Of the city--my city-- being a popular tourist attraction, in general. And I realized I am proud of it (although I still would not go anywhere near town for the main celebrations happening this weekend) So yes, for those who want to come and see what's up there at this time of the year, I encourage you to go ahead and do so. Soak up not just the sights but also the unique local culture (which, among others, entails one to pocket their trash if no trashcan is in sight (:) Enjoy!

Baguio welcomes me home. <3

SPED Center's contingent.
Nice ad for the Baguio branch. Moonleaf tea and Ayala-Technohub? John Hay has indeed grown with me.
Night out on a busy weekend. Such good friends I have. :)

Panagbenga Throwback! The 1st and 2nd, I think.

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