Panagbenga opens with ecumenical prayer sans parade

BAGUIO CITY– This mountain resort city officially kicked-off the month-long Panagbenga celebrations Saturday with a simple program where traditional and religious prayers were done without the opening parade which was canceled on Friday.
The opening parade and other crowd-drawing activities set for the Panagbenga were either postponed or canceled as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of illnesses especially the 2019 novel corona virus (2019-nCoV) affecting various places worldwide.
The opening parade was supposed to be the elimination round of the street dancing and drum and lyre competition, which will determine which among the groups will perform at the grand parades on Feb. 29 and March 1.
The ecumenical prayers were highlighted during the opening ceremony, with Fr. Rosito Pedro who led the Catholic prayer; Uztadh Rohalas Muripaga with the Islamic prayer; and an “uggayam” (prayer delivered by chanting in local dialect) by Baguio Councilor Vladimir Cayabas.
Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) chairman and former mayor Mauricio Domogan, led the Day-eng (native Prayer).
Domogan asked the creator to bless the month-long activities and to be successful despite the nCoV threat.
“I also pray that the Panagbenga will continue to become an instrument in bringing progress to the city,” he prayed in a local dialect.
Meanwhile, Cayabas also prayed that the city and its residents will be safe from the virus as they appreciate the simple celebration of the Panagbenga.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the health and safety of the public is a paramount concern.
“We will still astound the world with our cultural heritage, our city being hailed as one of the UNESCO’s creative city. Let the Panagbenga flourish again,” he said.
In his welcome message, Domogan recalled the first-ever staging of the Panagbenga 25 years ago.
“It is as if like yesterday when few of us were cracking our heads to plan for this festival in order to resuscitate and restore Baguio from the killer earthquake in 1990,” he said.
He said with just a PHP2 million budget, the founders of Panagbenga were able to stage the Flower Festival 25 years ago.
“Our students and children will cry if we do not allow them to participate which really contributed to the establishment of the flower festival,” he said.
“Let us continue to bloom as what we were doing in the past years. With our cooperation and teamwork, I am sure we will have another exciting and successful celebration of the Flower Festival that will be a crowd-drawing event for the city,” Domogan said.
Baguio and the rest of northern Luzon were rocked by the magnitude 7.7 earthquake., leaving thousands dead and several infrastructures in rubbles.
Panagbenga,” a Kankanaey word meaning “blossoming”, was conceptualized in 1995 as a recovery measure after the 1990 earthquake that hit northern Luzon including Baguio.
This year’s Panagbenga celebration carries the theme “Blooming through the years.” **Pamela Mariz Geminiano

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