The official Panagbenga website would paint its origins to be like this, while my colleague at the Department of Tourism would tell me a different story. Miss Aleli said that it was during the time of Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor when the flower festival was commissioned as a replica of Pasadena's Rose Parade. She said that the winner of the flower festival float contest back then was shipped and included in the Rose Parade. The people who rode the float were the Philippines' pride and glory, the Miss Universe title holder(s) and beauty queens. How does she know? She was the one who did the paperwork back then, according to her. Now, I would have to research and delve more into this if there is truth to what she told me. :p
The highlights include the Grand Street Parade on Saturday, which I missed because I had to be in the wedding of my cousin, and the Grand Float Parade on Sunday. Here are some photos of the street parade. Officials in attendance were DOT CAR Regional Director Molintas, Baguio Vice-Mayor Daniel Farinas, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., and Baguio Congressman Bernardo Vergara.
Secretary Lim and other Tourism officials went to one of the newest tourist attractions added in Baguio City, the BenCab Museum, where they were toured by the National Artist Ben Cabrera himself. Sec. Lim cited museums like this and other cultural displays as possible new tourist draws. He also mentioned wellness and adventure as additional pegs for tourism in Northern Luzon.
After the tour, the Secretary was the main guest of honor at the opening of the new Department of Tourism Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) office in Baguio. In his speech, he took the opportunity to share the Department’s thrust in appealing to “high-value tourists”, especially in international tourism promotion. “It is not the number of tourists we get that matters," Sec. Lim says, "but the amount of money they spend and the length of time they stay," he points out. "What we want to do is spend our promotions money targeting the high-value visitors like the MICE market,” Sec. Lim said.
The Department’s soon-to-be-launched “Pilipinas, Tara Na!” domestic tourism campaign is likewise a joint undertaking, this time with the private sector. Sec. Lim said a remake of the 2004 “Tara Na, Byahe Tayo” music video will be rolled out in time for the Holy Week rush. ABANGAN! :)
I arrived 2am in Baguio, in time for the 8am Grand Float Parade, which showcased 22 huge colorful floats covered with all sorts of floral arrangements and designs. It was a little bit commercialized as the floats represent different companies, but overall, it was very well attended by tourists from all over.
The photos below show the "making" of the Department of Tourism Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)'s float, where Secretary Alberto Lim, National Parks Development Committee Juliet Villegas and DOT CAR Director Pura Molintas rode in during the Grand Float Parade along Baguio's Session Road.
Pilipinas, Tara na sa Panagbenga sa Baguio City! :) DOT CAR Float, with Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and myself ;)
All photos courtesy of Jahzeel Cruz of the Department of Tourism :)