By ALDWIN QUITASOL
“Everyone is an abused child, if you think about what governments do.” — Tim Roth
Seventeen years ago, in a bid to boost the tourism industry of the city of Pines, some private individuals, businessmen and of course the city government invented a festival that will parade the culture of the people of the Cordillera and the flowers that are actually not a produce of Baguio.
The flower parade of the festival is actually a copied idea from the rose parade of Los Angeles in the U.S.
To draw more local and foreign tourists, street parades were ordered featured on the opening and on the closing of the one-month money-making activity. Students mostly elementary kids are made participants on the street dancing, drum and lyre others in the street parade. They will parade on the opening of the festival at eight in the morning under the scorching heat of the sun to the late afternoon. There was one time many children got sick after the parade because organizers made the children finish the whole march under a continuous afternoon drizzle.
A month before the festival, the school children instead of just attending their classes and listening to their teachers’ lectures are busy practicing and perfecting their dance routines. With their teachers, they brave the heat of the sun and sudden changes of temperature. Their school administrators probably told by the event organizers who are mostly businessmen, to promise to give them extra points even if they miss their lessons and will learn nothing.
Days before the event, parents who are really hard up earning money to provide for the needs of their children will again face an added tug on their pockets. Because the school lets them handle the expenses for the costumes of their kids. Many of the parents of the school children who will be participating in the festival are low wage workers who can only hope for a legislated hike in the minimum wage.
This year’s Panagbenga, as expected, tourist will flood the business establishments of the city. The school children will work hard at impressing the visitors with fancy choreographed dances most of the time bastardizing the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ culture while the big businessmen and officials fill their pockets.
Never will the officials in charge of workers welfare, labor, and related government agencies in charge of the welfare of children, say that the festivity involves child exploitation. What if these promoters and organizers of this festivity dance on the streets instead of the elementary and high school kids, anyway, it is their business, it is they who gains and not the children nor their parents. # nordis.net