Editorial: Panagbenga, beauty and the beast


What has become of celebrating the beauty of flowers and the city? Is it now devoured by the beast of over commercialization? And local bureaucrat capitalists.

The flower festival of Baguio became a part of the government tourism plan then to focus investments and develop tourism as a source of bigger profit from the then growing tourism industry. Government leaders told the people that the earnings gained will benefit the City of Baguio and open more opportunities for employment and development in the region. It started as the Flower Festival and then renamed “panagbenga”, which is not a Baguio word nor of the Ibaloi language. That was some 23 years ago.

A superficial scan of the more than two decades festival would show that the City has been appropriating millions every year for the festival from the people’s common fund (taxes) until now. The festival uses all the City utilities (water, electricity, street cleaners, etc.). Its organizers have declared on the media how much they have earned in the month long festival in general terms and it seems just until there.

Recent media reports also said there was an internal quarrel on whose designated turf were the different streets along Session. Apparently for the private income raised from renting it out to stall holders during the week long Session in Bloom.

In this month long annual use of public facilities, services and funds, and residents suffering the burden of increased traffic, shortage of water, raised prices (tourist price) of basic commodities, etc. how much do the people of the City actually get in return? In terms of city services? better facilities? The profit sharing? In simple terms, should not it be this way? Or should not the people of the city already ask that this “manufactured” festivity be called-off already? Even for all the deprivation and discomfort it brings annually to the actual residents of Baguio?


A growing movement against tyranny

During the Panagbenga month on the anniversary of the People power revolution, the youth and students, professionals, workers along with artists and journalists of Baguio took to the streets in a “walk out” march through the main thorough fares, with their placards and streamers loud and clear against the present dispensation’s pronouncements threatening the freedom of expression, impinging on basic human rights, and even calling for Charter Change (cha-cha), that aims to weaken the nationalist provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution with a proposed federalism charter.

IBON pointed out the Cha-Cha “inserts variations of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to sections stipulating majority to full Filipino ownership of agricultural lands, enterprises, public utilities, educational and advertising institutions. The 1987 Philippine Constitution still serves as legal basis to pursue social justice and economic independence to benefit Filipinos and the nation. Removing any protection over such vital sectors …will only worsen the country’s social and economic situation.”

Let us join Filipino citizens vigilant and watchful of our basic rights, our sovereignty, the nation, and lend them our support to strengthen the people’s movement against dictatorships, against tyranny at least here in our home regions. Let us help Defend Democracy. # nordis.net


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